My life has been crazy hectic and busy the past few months. So while I'm not happy to be at work, I am happy that this enforced respite has given me the chance to catch up on some badly neglected reading, and I'm finally back into my Oz track! So as I've been doing lately, I'm starting with one of the Famous Forty, reading them (mostly) in order. Last week I had the pleasure to reread The Emerald City of Oz, the book L. Frank Baum had originally intended to end the series with. What struck me this time around is the pacing, and where the chapters fell. He starts off by alternating between the Nome King and his machinations to conquer Oz, and Dorothy's attempt to help Aunt Em and Uncle Henry out of their financial troubles. Of course she does it by asking Ozma to bring them to Oz so all three of them can live there permanently! Baum starts off by alternating chapters between the two plot strands, which makes sense. But the story of the Nomes wrap up pretty quickly, so most of the second half of the book is just a travelogue while Dorothy shows her family around their new home (which also gives Baum some terrific opportunities to build his world). When they come towards the end of their journey and learn the news of the nomes' impending invasion, it comes as a surprise to the reader just as much as it does to the characters, because the book hasn't dealt with them for so long. I doubt this was deliberate on Baum's part, but it works very well. Had he sprinkled the chapters about the nomes preparing to invade out a little more, I think it would have not only lessened the impact of the news that they were coming, but it would probably have also lessened the impact of the nomes' preparations in the early chapters, since they all came fast and thick and showed just how wily Guph was by the allies he recruited. I did wonder, also, why Ozma didn't use the Magic Belt to completely fill in the tunnel before the armies started marching to Oz. Also, considering how many days it can take characters to walk across Oz, could the invaders have marched the entire length of the tunnel in one night? Butoverall, it is a magnificent book, the invasion is handle very neatly, and Baum tied up the loose ends in such a way that, if this had been the actual end of the series, it would be a satisfying one. But thank goodness he needed the money that another bestselling Oz book could provide!
I pondered whether to read The Patchwork Girl of Oz or The Sea Fairies next, but now I'm going to read them both! There's no rule that says Trot and Cap'n Bill's adventures couldn't happen at the same time as events were happening in Oz. After that, I'll read both Tik-Tok of Oz and Sky Island, which then very neatly brings me to The Scarecrow of Oz, Trot and Cap'n Bill's first official Oz book. But before that, I have a stack of other books I will be reading over the next few weeks. I hope to tell you more about them later.