|“||The Grimmerie began to change shape… The book flexed and retracted… It was thick and square and yellow—the size, shape, and color of a bad cake… Glinda picked up the Grimmerie and shook it… Big squarish letters… which must indicate the book’s title, said "Gone with the Wind".||”|
|— (p. 65)[src]|
Out of Oz is the fourth and final novel in Gregory Maguire's The Wicked Years and was released on November 1, 2011. Out of Oz brings a conclusion to the narratives spread across The Wicked Years while providing a revisionist look at L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz incorporating elements from Baum's series as well as the 1939 film adaptation of the original novel.
This novel presents an Oz in the middle of a civil war plagued with depression and adult situations, from the perspective of Rain, the young granddaughter of Elphaba Thropp, Maguire's reimagining of The Wicked Witch of the West.
The story starts out with Dorothy Gale who is now in her teens and on vacation with her uncle and aunt in San Francisco. The text states that, as with the 1939 film version, nobody believed in Dorothy's account of Oz and shunned her. While in San Francisco Dorothy hoped to see the ocean, but due to the fog, she was unable to see it. At the end of the prologue, the famous San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906 occurs while Dorothy is trapped with her dog Toto in an elevator at the motel she and her relatives were staying in.
To Call Winter Upon Water
The story switches to Oz, where there is turmoil once again. The Emerald City and the Free State of Munchkinland are at war over the precious Restwater Lake. Situated in the midst of this conflict is Mockbeggar Hall. Lady Glinda, now residing there, is held under house arrest on suspicion of treason by Cherrystone, who has now achieved the rank of General. Most of her staff are evicted, save for a few to attend on her needs. Among them is a strange, under-developed child named Rain, whom Cherrystone begins teaching to read.
Glinda is kept under tight watch and, to her surprise, the Grimmerie comes into her possession one night when the Clock of the Time Dragon comes to Mockbeggar Hall. As typical, the Dragon and its cronies put on a show that puts Cherrystone and his soldiers into a furious disarray. It is here that we are re-introduced to Brrr and his wife Nor, who is calling herself Illianora.
Cherrystone's soldiers garrisoned here begin taking over the barns for their own purposes. Using Rain as a spy, Glinda attempts to discover what they are up to, with little success. At last it is revealed that Cherrystone has been creating boats, pulled by dragons, to be shipped across the Restwater Lake to decimate the Munchkin forces. With Rain's help, Glinda uses a spell entitled To Call Winter Upon Water to freeze the ships in the middle of the lake. With her under suspicion, Glinda sends Rain off with Illianora, the Dwarf Mister Boss and the Clock of the Time Dragon, much to the Dwarf's chagrin.
The Patchwork Conscience of Oz
Rain, Brrr, Nor and Mister Boss are now on the run, and the Clock of the Time Dragon seems to have played its last show. At Rain's suggestion, they consult the Grimmerie, where an image of Yackle directs them to go south. On their way, the Dwarf, begrudging his service to an inactive prophetic machine, decides to marry on the spot. Here we are re-introduced to Sister Apothecarie from the last two books, now called Little Daffy. Shortly thereafter they meet Miss Grayling, the former sorcery teacher at Shiz. Once there, the Clock of the Time Dragon wakes, showing the demise of Pastorius and how the Wizard came to power.
They arrive in Quadling Country, escaping pursuing forces quite by accident when Rain makes the Clock of the Time Dragon fly. They stay in the Quadling Country for a long while (the text is never specific on time, because in Gregory Maguire's Oz, the passage of time in the story is inconsistent and completely arbitrary), and Rain befriends a swamp-otter she calls Tay and steals a lake-shell. After a considerable amount of time passes (it is once again unclear, though Rain is definitely more than a child now), they leave Quadling Country. During an encounter with Muhlama, the Ivory Tigress from A Lion Among Men, the Clock of the Time Dragon is irreparably damaged. The stage is in chaos, though it is hinted that it could have been the last prediction of the Clock of the Time Dragon. At the end of the chapter, they arrive at a place in far eastern Vinkus called the Chancel of the Ladyfish.
The Chancel of the Ladyfish
In the third chapter, Liir has been living with Lirr and Candle in secrecy some time after the end of Son of a Witch. Liir tells Rain that he is her father, but, mirroring his own repugnance towards his own mother, Rain does not reciprocate any feelings of affection toward him or Candle. While here, it is revealed that Liir is keeping up with some of his cohorts in the Council of Birds, particularly the goose Iskinaary, who is called his 'familiar.' While they stay here, it is revealed that Dorothy has returned to Oz.
Being on the run, Liir and company leave Chancel and head north-west, deeper into the Vinkus. While passing the Kellswater Lake, the Clock of the Time Dragon falls into the lake and is at last lost. With the Clock gone, the company go their separate ways. Liir and Candle go into hiding, Mister Boss, Brrr and Little Daffy decide to go to Munchkinland and the chapter ends with Rain in Nor's company.
The Judgment of Dorothy
Brrr, Mister Boss and Little Daffy arrive in Munchkinland on the eve of a trial to be held against the newly-arrived Dorothy. Apparently the Munchkinlanders, who in Wicked gave Nessarose Thropp the title Wicked Witch of the East, now view Nessarose as a national heroine, and therefore hold Dorothy at trial for her "murder" and that of her sister. Throughout the chapter, it is revealed that the trial is nothing more than a political maneuver by Munchkinland's leader Mombey (who appeared briefly in Son of a Witch) to garner support and patriotism for the cause of the Munchkinlanders, and that it can only end in one way: with Dorothy found guilty.
Brrr, Mister Boss and Little Daffy take part in the trial and, sure enough, Dorothy is found guilty. The trial is then interrupted by the three, who rescue Dorothy and high-tail it out of Munchkinland before "things get ugly."
At St. Prowd's
By the fourth chapter, Nor, who is staying at Kiamo Ko has enrolled Rain at the Gilikin school of St. Prowd's, where she is kept in an attic. She makes friends with a servant-girl named Scarly and a young boy named Tip (who also made a cameo-appearance in Son of a Witch).
Rain progresses with her studies, and (apparently) grows up some more. When she discovers that a 'book of magic' has been found and is in Mombey's possession, she and Tip escape from St. Prowd's.
Rain and Tip arrive at Kiamo Ko, along with Brrr, Mister Boss Little Daffy and Dorothy and learn that Nor is dead. It is at this point that Rain begins to take matters into her own hands.
Liir is set upon by disguised men, who bring him to Mombey. To cross the border, they force Liir either to use the Grimmerie to aid Mombey's forces, or be smuggled into Munchkinland in the form of a dead Animal. He chooses the second option and is turned into an apparently dead Elephant. A watching Bird misinterprets this that Liir is dead.
Rain decides to leave Kiamo Ko and head for The Emerald City, hoping that Shell Thropp, the Emperor Apostle, has news of the whereabouts of her father or the Grimmerie. While on their way they meet the Ozmists (from A Lion Among Men), who enchant Rain's lake-shell to summon them whenever sounded. She proceeds to the Emerald City accompanied only by Dorothy. Once they arrive, dragons attack the city from above, having been trained by Trism bon Cavalish.
To Call the Lost Forward
With The Emerald City brought to its knees by the dragon attacks, a parley between Emperor Shell and Mombey is called forth in the City. Dorothy is reunited with Toto and Rain with Tip, returning with Mombey and the victorious Munchkins into the City. The company receive news that Liir is dead.
The parley takes place in the City, and Mombi reveals that Liir is not dead. It is revealed during the parley that Mombi has the Grimmerie and uses it to attempt to revert Liir to his natural form. But something goes wrong. Rain, who has been making out with Tip in secret during the parley, is suddenly filled with a sharp pain that goes across her entire skin. Suddenly, Mombi starts shouting frantically:
- What are you doing here? Where have you come from? No one gave you clearance. I never called you back!
It is revealed that the spell Mombey had used to summon back Liir, entitled To Call the Lost Forward, had summoned more than just Liir. It is here revealed that Liir, upon discovery that his daughter was born with green skin, enlisted the aid of a Snake to conceal her skin color and hide her away for her own protection. Mombey's spell brings back Rain's true skin color, and Tip is revealed to be none other than Ozma Tippetarius (the lost queen of OZ), the last Ozma believed (and supported by Gregory Maguire) throughout the series to be dead. Elphaba herself is also rumored by the Ozians to have come back from wherever she went after her melting because of Mombeys spell, though there is no solid proof she did, in fact, return.
The closing action sees Liir and Candle still separated, Mombey and Glinda placed in the Southstairs, though it is strongly hinted that Glinda will not remain there for long. Brrr is made the governor of Oz until Ozma comes of age. The greenified Rain uses the Grimmerie to send Dorothy back to Earth.
With everything settled, Rain buries the Grimmerie and proceeds to live with Liir. Glinda is released from the Southstairs and, before long, the buried Grimmerie grows a tree of magic broomsticks. Rain takes up her own broom, the Grimmerie in tow and flies Out of Oz, passing over the Deadly Deserts, over Ev and over many other lands until she becomes ill. Iskinaary finds her and helps her recovery and encourages her to "keep going." Rain continues flying on, until she at last reaches and sees the ocean. She keeps on going, out over the ocean, planning to drop the Grimmerie into its depths and keep going. Mirroring the first lines of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Out of Oz concludes with the following statement:
- "A mile above anything known, the Girl balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the sea itself, flung up by the turbulent air and sent wheeling away."
Out of Oz was first released on November 1, 2011 in hardcover format by William Morrow in the United States, a paperback version was released simultaneously in Great Britain.
Allusions and references
Allusions/references to other works
Out of Oz borrows heavily from the second Oz novel by Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz, where the Emerald City's power is overthrown by a General Jinjur and her all-female army accompanied by a witch named Mombi. Out of Oz's revolution is led by reimagined versions of those characters named General Jinjuria and La Mombey. The Marvelous Land of Oz's protagonist, a boy named Tip is in actuality the enchanted Princess Ozma, the rightful ruler of Oz. The Wicked Years has recounted the story of Ozma as a myth, generally presenting that Ozma herself was killed by the Wizard. However, in Out of Oz Rain comes face-to-face with Tip and falls in love with him. As in the original book, the spell keeping Ozma bound in Tip's form is broken, and Rain is forced to acknowledge that she's lost her love to the throne of Oz. Dorothy's return was also inspired by Baum's Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz in which Dorothy comes back to Oz in a San Franciscan earthquake. Characters from the Oz books such as Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Nome King, Princess Langwidere, Handy Mandy in Oz and Ojo the Lucky are also referenced throughout, making fleeting cameos. The novel also references songs from the musical, and the 1939 film, albeit somewhat covertly to avoid copyright infringement.
Literary significance and criticism
For the most part, reviews for Out of Oz were quite positive. Reviewers typically praised Maguire for wrapping up an epic series, Elizabeth Hand from the Washington Post wrote, "No summary could do justice to Maguire’s novel, which is hilarious, heart-wrenching and extremely poignant in its ending." Brian Truitt from USA Today praised the series, though criticized it for its length, writing: "While it meanders at times, Out of Oz is a satisfying finish to the "Wicked Years" saga."
- Throughout the series, there has been speculation that Elphaba Thropp may not be dead. In Son of a Witch, Nor writes the phrase "Elphaba Lives" in graffiti on several walls and in A Lion Among Men, Yackle says that "She's coming back."
- However, in Out of Oz, the main idea is that Ozma is the one who has come back. Elphaba may have simply come back in spirit through her grand-daughter Rain.
- There may be more to this however. The character of Nanny states that she saw Elphaba recently, though she is known to have, by now, become senile. As if to further complicate the issue, Glinda herself implies knowing the person who opens the door to her jail cell in the final chapter, saying her name before calling her "You wicked thing."
- Many believe that Mombey's spell "To Call The Lost Forward" (which Rain interfered with) may also have brought back Elphaba herself.