Review: A Lion Among Men — Gregory Maguire

Read: 30
To Go: 70

Book List:
21. The First Deadly Sin — Lawrence Sanders
22. Exclusive — Sandra Brown
23. White Hot — Sandra Brown
24. The Black Ice — Michael Connelly
25. The Concrete Blonde — Michael Connelly
26. The Retreat — David Bergen
27. Stranglehold — Robert Rotenberg
28. The Black Box — Michael Connelly
29. Easy Money — Jens Lapidus
30. A Lion Among Men — Gregory Maguire

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As much as I enjoyed A Lion Among Men, I find it particularly difficult to write about, so this review will be short and sweet. It’s probably better that way.

In A Lion Among Men, Brr—also known as the Cowardly Lion—visits the mauntery just as war is breaking out between Munchkinland and Loyal Oz. His mission is to interview the old fortune teller, Yackle, to discover if she knows the location of the Grimmerie, the book of spells used by the deceased Elphaba Thropp, Wicked Witch of the West, and her son, Liir. But Yackle is protecting a secret much more important.

I wish I’d read A Lion Among Men in closer proximity to Son of a Witch, because returning to the magical world of Oz and all its conflicts after having been away for so long was plenty confusing. But after getting acclimatized, I was able to sink in and enjoy it.

A Lion Among Men, the third novel in Maguire’s Wicked series, is framed differently than all the other books. It’s structure is the prolonged conversation between Brr and Yackle, two characters who had previously been on the outskirts of Maguire’s narrative. But it’s not your typical conversation: both Brr and Yackle come to the table with their own agenda, and spend the novel trying to feel each other out, discover what their opponent knows without revealing their own hands. And there was just as much to be read into what wasn’t being said as what was.

Brr is a brilliant character, giving true meaning to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Always the unwilling outsider, Brr has quite possibly the least agency of any character I’ve ever come across. His life has been shaped—and damaged irreparably—by events out of his control, and the best he can do is try to fix what’s been broken, over and over again. From his tragic origins leading up to his visit to the mauntery, which he explains to Yackle, Brr is a pitiful character. But by the end of the novel, he stands a chance at taking control of his life, for once.

The last pages of A Lion Among Men, which see a fortuitous collision between Brr, Yackle, and a mysterious group of misfits guarding a large clock, ended the book on a captivating note that left me salivating for Out of Oz. The series’ final book is going to be a stunner, with all those elements in play.

Next book: The Dressmaker — Kate Alcott

– Kelsey

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