Rinkitink in Oz by L. Frank Baum

Unlike most of the preceding works, Rinkitink features a pretty continuous narrative, and a serious predicament, when a whole nation of good guys is pillaged and kidnapped, and its lone survivor must mount a rescue operation. Since this is still Baum writing, his means of support include three magic pearls, a rotund and ridiculous king (the eponymous individual), and a talking goat (who, like the lead character from Marvelous Land of Oz becomes transformed into its original state at the end of the book).

At this point, Baum is no longer quite playing around. He acknowledges that there are hard truths out there, even in the fairy land of Oz, previously the subject of endless happy endings. And while there is one here once again, Baum doesn’t go out of his way to tidy up all the loose ends, as in previous adventures. Although the wicked monarchs responsible for all the misery die conveniently in a shipwreck, Baum provides for no new regimes in their steed, which is just as well, because Rinkitink also once again revisits the Nome Kingdom, and finds the new boss almost the same as the old boss.

So this is one for those looking for a little more nuance in Oz, and shows what Baum was capable of when he (nearly) quit playing around so much. It should also be noted that he also seems to have made peace with popular music, a recurring theme in previous books in which he found as much annoyance as the talking goat. As loathe as he was to continue writing these things, Baum got a lot of use out of them, and so will his continued admirers.

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