Maguire’s pattern of splitting the text is not constant in any of The Wicked Years. Wicked sets the pattern up now. “I: Munchkinlanders” is split into named chapters with no subdivisions. Later, we’ll run into parts with no splits at all and into parts where there are named chapters and numbered subchapters.
“The Root Of Evil” is only a few pages long, but it begins the introduction of Maguire’s specific version of Oz.
Here, we meet Melena, Frexspar, and Frex’s sense of what his concerns ought to be in the world.
Frex’s misguided sense of what his concerns ought to be in the world, since he’s about to walk out of the house to go preaching with Melena certain she’s about to give birth to his first-born child.
We learn several things about their family here.
The first is that Melena comes from a family of privilege but that they certainly aren’t living that way themselves. She has had so much privilege that she knows nothing about birthing in a region where no woman of childbearing age is expected to have escaped knowing such things. Despite this, Frex is still very much the dominant figure in their relationship.
The second is that they are living in an area which, according to the map at the front of the book, is almost at the border of Oz. From the names of the towns, it’s apparent that this isn’t even a somewhat important border region, just a rural part of Munchkinland.
The third is that Frex thinks he’s about to go try to save the neighborhood from some horror through preaching that he thinks is almost certain to fail.
The fourth is that in Oz, birth time superstitions – or at least one version of them – are based on time of day instead of days of the week. Woe for everyone, just in different flavors.
And the fifth is that a figure known as the Unnamed God figures highly in Oz religion – particularly in Frex’s opinions of what proper religious belief is.