Reading Maguire: Wicked, Maladies and Remedies

My apologies for the delay. I’ve had some things happen in the past week, and am now preparing to start seeking an agent for my novel, so perhaps posting once or twice a week is a more attainable goal than Mondays through Thursdays.

This chapter is where we first get a clue that Frex and Melena’s daughter, now named Elphaba, may not be independently strange. It’s an important thing to note for the future, but it’s not what I want to discuss this time.

This chapter, we get a really good glimpse into the kind of upbringing that Elphaba is going to experience.

[TW – emotional abandonment of an infant]

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Birth Of A Witch

This chapter is where we learn that the Clock seems to have an agenda of its own. The scenes it shows of Frex and Melena not only aren’t true (although I can’t help but think that the treasure imagery isn’t a symbol of hidden actual treasure, but that Melena is herself Frex’s real treasure), but fail to come true. At the same time, the reaction of the crowd serves to set other events in motion.

Frex’s marginal power as local minister is completely and utterly gone. It doesn’t matter that anyone coming to his house and pillaging isn’t going to find any gems. He now knows that only one member of the community was willing to save him from a bad end, and he has no clue which members of his congregation might have been one of the hooded men who attacked him.

And Melena has to take cover while in labor. [TW – woman in danger during childbirth, threatened infanticide]

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Clock of the Time Dragon

This is the chapter where we get a physical description of the Clock. It’s worth getting the mental image in your head, because the Clock isn’t going away any time soon. We also start getting a few details about the religious system in Oz.

But the really interesting thing for me in this chapter is Frex’s lack of a clue. Melena may be framed as the one with little understanding of the world people without means live in, but Frex is the one who makes dangerous errors.

He’s about to set his family up for probable disaster.

[Trigger warning: discussion of pregnancy, childbirth, and spousal irresponsibility and temporary abandonment in the face of impending childbirth]

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Root of Evil

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.

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, Art Break The First: Meet The Time Dragon

One of the reasons I kept making sure to get the larger format of Maguire’s books once I’d gotten my hands on Wicked in that size wasn’t just that I like it when a book series looks roughly the same on a shelf.

It was the art. The art, which is all done in a woodcut style that would not at all seem out of place in an exhibit of newspaper woodcuts from just before photography took off, and which just would not fit in a small-format paperback.

And with the beginning of “I: Munchkinlanders”, the art of Wicked begins. It’s time to meet the Time Dragon and his Clock.

The Clock of the Time Dragon will come up repeatedly, and so will the Time Dragon’s role in the religious life of Oz. More about that soon, as we’re about to meet the missionaries (not his, although an argument could be made about the keepers of the Clock being clergy of a very odd sort).

The cover of “Munchkinlanders” is of the Clock with the Time Dragon perched on top of it and a crowd gathered beneath.

The Dragon is glaring – the effect made even better by the style – and pointing one claw at the reader.

The crowd isn’t much happier. All of the eyes are overshadowed. There’s a lot of judgmental frowning going on. One of the two smiles present is downright predatory.

In short, whoever the viewpoint character of the image is, that person is not going to be having a good night.

And it’s just before midnight according to the Clock.

Reading Maguire: Wicked, Prologue

Wicked starts very in media res, and I’m assuming Maguire presumes his readers have at least some exposure to The Wizard of Oz.

At the very least to the characters, which admittedly it’s rather hard to avoid knowing something about in the USA these days – or at least in the parts of it I grew up in. The image of Dorothy and her companions skipping along is iconic. The Hallmark stores in the malls and anywhere else that sell their ornaments proudly display characters from the movie come the Christmas shopping season. And then there were the commercials for the anniversary DVD a few years back…

I never saw the movie all the way through until I was a senior in college – thank you ‘films as historical documents’ class, for being the reason I still have the DVD – despite nearly managing to do so between middle and high school, and I may or may not have read the book in middle school. I remember reading some of Baum’s other books, most or all of which are available as free e-books now on Amazon or elsewhere online legally, while riding home on the school bus.

But I was still very, very sure of what the Wicked Witch, Dorothy, and Dorothy’s companions looked like.

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Reading Maguire: Introduction

A bit over a year ago, I discovered Wicked as a forlorn paperback languishing in a library booksale bin in Atlanta, Georgia. December 11, to be precise – I had stopped at the library on the way to the High Museum, and the ticket sticker from the museum somehow ended up in the inside front cover of the book. (This being one minor argument for why the High needs to bring back the old ‘get rid of the stickers here’ wall that went away when the entry changed places after the remodeling project a few years ago.)

Within the space of a few weeks, I had gotten my hands on Son Of A Witch and A Lion Among Men. This summer, I found copies of Lost and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, neither of which I have found time to read yet.

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