"What should poor Dorothy do when a terrible tornado plucks her from the
Kansas plain and drops her in the Land of Oz? Follow the Yellow Brick
Road, of course! This title lets you join a brave little girl, a
straw-stuffed scarecrow, a cowardly lion and a man made of tin as they
set off to find the things they most long for."
"Eric is the Discworld's only demonology hacker. The
trouble is, he's not very good at it. All he wants is the usual three
wishes: to be immortal, rule the world and have the most beautiful woman
fall madly in love with him. The usual stuff. But what he
gets is Rincewind, the Disc's most incompetent wizard, and Rincewind's
Luggage (the world's most dangerous travel accessory) into the bargain.
Terry Pratchett's hilarious take on the Faust legend stars many of
the Discworld's most popular characters in an outrageous adventure that
will leave Eric wishing once more - this time, quite fervently, that
he'd never been born ".
The life and times
of the Wicked Witch of the West
I have been to see the stage version of Wicked four times
now and would consider myself a big fan. And seeing as the last time I went I
ended up proposing to my girlfriend in the lobby and getting engaged I felt it
was time to read the book that inspired the musical.
Sitting down with it I was surprised to find out how little
of the stage show is evident in the book, in fact apart from the characters
themselves (and even then, mostly in name only) little to none of the book is
remotely similar to what takes place on the stage. Sadly though, I wasn’t
convinced that, of the two versions of the story, the book was the better.
For those who don’t know, Wicked tells the story of The Wizard
of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the west. In it we learn that
the popular image of her is a fallacy and that she is the victim of a negative
smear campaign set forth by the Wizard himself, the actual villain of the
This premise, while interesting, is a little troubled
however. Anyone who has actually read the book of the Wizard of Oz knows that
the witch is hardly in it at all and is in fact a fairly minor character, also
so looks nothing like the black clad, green skinned monster of the film. The
book tries to be the best of both worlds, including the films green skinned
witch but also taking many elements from the book series, the most obvious of
which is the Silver slippers of the book (ruby in the film).
This means that although it tries to tell us the true story
of Oz, it tells the story of an oz that doesn’t exist in either canon. Perhaps
not too big of a deal to a casual reader but I couldn’t help but feel it
clouded the intention of the book somewhat.
That was not my main issue with the novel however, put
simply, it was far too long. I’m no stranger to a long novel but here, it felt
that the length was unjustified, minor details were poured over with such
lengthy prose that in the end whole chapters could have been lifted from the
book without denting the narrative.
This problem is mainly kept to the first half of the book,
thesecond half suddenly picks up the
pace and moves in a much more enjoyable way but it is perhaps too little too
late. By the time you manage to get to the enjoyable part of the book you have
had to drag yourself through two hundred pages kicking and screaming and your
opinion of the text may already by engraved in your mind.
The second half, as I say is far more enjoyable if still a
little overly wordy, you have to remember that this is intended to be a
response to a fairly simple children’s book and frankly, it comes off as more
than a little self indulgent at times.
You might think then, that given this dense writing style,
that there would be no questions as to the quality of the story itself. In
actual fact however, the plot is at times entirely threadbare. Large parts of
the novel see the witch doing little to nothing whatsoever, often at the
expense of other aspects of the novel. In the end, I finished the novel with a
dozen questions about what I had read. Perhaps the answers to these are to be
found in the following three novels in the series but frankly the book left me
with no intention to read them and find out.
Despite all this, I did enjoy parts of this novel. The
second half is very entertaining and the dialogue is superb throughout. But I
find it hard to recommend.
More than anything, I just found myself thinking of how much
better the musical handles the concept of the story. Giving the audience a
version that is superior in almost every way, in a format that takes two hours
to digest rather than a month.