Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Latest Oz Reading

I say "latest", but it's actually been a few weeks since I finished this pile. Other, more pressing issues have taken precedence, however, and decided to hold off. Well, I finally have a little time to spare before things get nutty again in the not-too-distant future, so I'm going to jump on in.

  • I decided to skip Crown Fire in my chronological rereading of the works of Eloise Jarvis McGraw as I'd acquired it so recently and it was relatively fresh. So instead I read Moccasin Trail, the story of Jim Keath, a young nineteenth century man torn between two worlds. As a youth, he ran away from his family in Missouri to go with his uncle, a trapper who worked in the Rocky Mountains. His uncle died, and after an encounter with a bear James was taken in by a Crow tribe, who eventually adopt him and he becomes part of their family. Now grown, Jim has left the Crow and is working as a trapper himself in the Oregon territory. It's getting harder to fine animals, however, and a chance encounter leads Jim back to his family, who are on the Oregon Trail headed to the Willamette Valley. He helps them finish the journey and claim their land, but the long time away and his long hair and Crow clothes make it hard for his family to understand and trust him. Adventures ensue, of course, and Jim keeps vacillating between staying with his family and heading back to the mountains. Of course there's a happy ending and Jim finds a way to, if not exactly be part of both worlds, at least do something that works well for him. This is very much a book of its time, with all kinds of attitudes and beliefs that were actually fairly progressive in 1952, but seem a little stilted today. Jim's character and the struggles he has to deal with are well realized, however, and I found it to be an intriguing read. As a native Oregonian, Eloise knew the area well, but this was her first historical, and it feels like she did her research well, as it has a feel of truth.
  • Fables, Volume 11: War and Pieces, collecting issues 70 to 75 of the comic book series. The Fables finally go on the offensive against the Adversary, and make some major inroads and win some big victories. In fact, the Adversary is even turned toward their cause. Not a lot Ozzy going on, although Bufkin shows up in a few places. Also, the thirteenth floor witches are introduced, including a young blonde girl who will later turn out to be Ozma.
  • The Steam Engines of Oz, Volume 1, another comic book collection. I'd read the single issues some time ago, but this was a nice revisit. In a dystopian steampunk future Oz ruled by the heartless Tin Woodman, Victoria Wright is one of the mechanics that keeps the Emerald City in motion around Oz. She ends up helping some prisoners escape, and gets caught up in the rebellion against the Tin Woodman. This volume ends with the Tin Woodman regaining his heart and beginning the process of mending his ways, but there is still a long way to go, so I guess I'd better get volume 2 soon. Even if the setting and premise aren't all that Ozzy, it's a fun book, and Victoria is a great character.
  • Finally for this round of Oz reading is Sweet Wishes from Oz by Marin Elizabeth Xiques. Wintergreen is Santa's chief elf in charge of creating new kinds of candy, but she wants a break, and asks to spend a year running a sweet shop in the Emerald City. Wintergreen's place in Santa's workshop is taken by Andy Borough, an aspiring Emerald City confectioner whose parents were knocked silly one Christmas. Things don't go well for either Wintergreen or Andy at first, and they both learn to rely on the generosity of others, as well as time and patience, to get up to speed. Both, eventually, come out in the end as stronger candy makers and more contented with their lots. It's a sweet (yes, pun intended) little story, and a nice look at life in the Emerald City, something that isn't shown enough in the Oz books. I also like how each chapter is set up by a letter from Andy to Wintergreen or vice versa, as they both support each other and send samples to each other.
And that is it for the current round of Oz reading. I hope I get to read a lot more stuff by the time the next batch of Oz books comes up!

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