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A Lion Among Men: Volume Three in The Wicked Years

A Lion Among Men: Volume Three in The Wicked Years

Scris de Gregory Maguire

Povestit de John McDonough


A Lion Among Men: Volume Three in The Wicked Years

Scris de Gregory Maguire

Povestit de John McDonough

evaluări:
3.5/5 (56 evaluări)
Lungime:
12 hours
Lansat:
Oct 14, 2008
ISBN:
9780061713446
Format:
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Descriere

Return to a darker Oz with Gregory Maguire. In A Lion Among Men, the third volume in Maguire's acclaimed, New York Times bestselling series The Wicked Years, a fuller, more complex Cowardly Lion is brought to life and gets to tell his remarkable tale. It is a story of oppression and fear in a world gone mad with war fever-of Munchkins, Wizards, and Wicked Witches-and especially of a gentle soul and determined survivor who is truly A Lion Among Men.

Lansat:
Oct 14, 2008
ISBN:
9780061713446
Format:
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Despre autor

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of A Wild Winter Swan; Hiddensee; After Alice; Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked—the beloved classic that is the basis for the blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical of the same name—Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family in New England and in France.


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  • (2/5)
    Review from BadelyngeI'm a big admirer of Gregory Maguire's first Wicked book. It rightly deserves all the literary and popular acclaim it has so far garnered. I was fascinated by the life story and character of Elphaba Thropp aka The Wicked Witch of the West. The second book, Son of a Witch, was disappointing, mediocre but sort of readable. It suffered most because of the need to compare it to its predecessor. This third book, A lion Among Men, is much worse. It hardly seems like a book at all, more like a DVD commentary for a tv series/first two books, where cast and crew tell anecdotes about the filming. Only unable to get either the lead actor, writer or director the commentary features actors who played minor characters and forces them to go through a question and answer session formulated by a group of fans. The Lion and Yackle fit into that role, with a mystery guest contributor on the last episode.Who else but the most rabid of fan could would put up with two such unlikable characters as The Lion (sorry Brrr) and Yackle for over 400 pages? The cowardly lion sits in one room and interviews Yackle for most of the book. Though being such a poor excuse for an interviewer, the Lion tells more about his own experiences than he receives from Yackle. We hear all about his aimless meandering. Of course he has to meet some lions, oh and some tigers and unfortunately some bears...oh my. There is also an attempt by the author to shoehorn a theme about the morality of war into the mix but this only serves to compound the already rampant cynicism of the the main characters.
  • (5/5)
    Brr, the Cowardly Lion, finds himself trading stories and reminiscences with an old maunt who may hold the key to the Thropp family's destiny.This is, in many ways, a story about stories; a story about memory and its impact on the present; a story about the connections between people and the need to view each person as an individual, above all else. Brrr, like Elphaba before him, is more than his public persona. Maguire takes us inside his story and lets us see what really went down.It's beautifully done. My favourite thing about all Maguire's books is the way he takes these flat, stock characters and situations and gives them substance. Brrr isn't perfect. He is rather a coward. But Maguire takes us inside his cowardice and shows us what makes him tick. We come to see that it's not a clear-cut case; Brr is a person, (er, Lion), with the same complex motivations and fears that drive us all. He's a product of his past: his forcible removal from his mother, his awkward socialization, his life under the Wizard's anti-Animal regime. Maguire does a brilliant job of showing us why Brrr is the way he is. Like Elphaba and Liir, he's not an entirely likeable character; he messes up, often with disastrous results. But at the end of the day, it's hard not to feel for him.Oz itself continues to expand beneath Maguire's pen. (Or keyboard, as the case may be). Brrr finally gives us a first-hand look at what Animals go through. We see how they integrate - or fail to integrate - into society, how they were pushed out, what options were open to them in the wake of the Wizard's departure. It's fascinating stuff.And we get some answers, at long last! Maguire excels at finding and illuminating the connections between his characters, their situations, and the state of the nation, and he uses these connections to drive the story forward. He shows us everything we might need to know and lets us piece it all together for ourselves. The answers found here are more in the line of confirmations, really; many readers will already have guessed portions of the outcome, but it can be nice to hear someone actually come out and say what you already know. And like all the best confirmations, these ones raise a whole host of new questions.I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the first two books. I wish I'd bought it instead of borrowing it from the library. I realized, midway through, that I've never purchased a new copy of any of Maguire's books. He's given me so many hours of reading enjoyment over the past five years that he most definitely deserves some of my royalties. You can bet I'll be buying the next book, which can't come out quickly enough. (A slightly different version of this review originally appeared on my blog, Stella Matutina).
  • (3/5)
    Third book of the series and there were some lags, but I felt this was more interesting that Son of a Witch.
    Brrr, aka the Cowardly Lion, has an interesting link to Elphaba, aka Wicked Witch of the West, that most wouldn't expect. Brrr isn't so much cowardly as maybe a little dim or too trusting? The political tangle and names were clever.
    The book ends on a cliff hanger of sorts, so I'm glad I didn't read this before Out of Oz was released.
  • (3/5)
    least fav. But ending has me wondering.
  • (2/5)
    I get lost reading the Wicked books. There are usually disturbing issues in the background and I have never read any of the Baum books. I think I miss a lot of references but I have very little interest in spending time with Baum.
  • (3/5)
    It's amusing and easy, though not nearly as good as Wicked and probably even less meaningful than Son of a Witch. It appears as if MacGuire is going to start a full on series, and while I probably will read the next book, out of love for Wicked, if it doesn't get any better, it will probably be the last.
  • (2/5)
    Although Gregory Maguire has written interesting stories around Oz, this isn't one of them. The cowardly lion seems to have some potential, but it just isn't met. He wanders through the story passively reacting to everything around him and not learning from his experiences. The author seems to recognize this shortcoming and suggests some growth in the last chapter, but it was too little and too late to save the story. Much of the story is spent exchanging stories with Mother Yackle, who is a much more interesting character than Sir Brrr, the Cowardly Lion. He was doing some investigation for the wizard, and spends much of the book with her, recanting his stories in exchange for information. The first two books in the series are worth reading, but stop there.
  • (4/5)
    While I enjoyed this book more than Son of a Witch, it still cannot quite compare with Wicked itself. Still, we always wondered why the Lion was cowardly, and Maguire provides his past in flashbacks and memories that reveal a cowardice both physical and, more importantly, spiritual. The action is as remarkable and unpredictable as ever, and I was pleased that my favorite characters, the maunts such as Sister Apothecaire, the dwarf and especially Yackle, were given juicy parts. I would certainly recommend this book, and look forward to Out of Oz.
  • (5/5)
    This has to be the best in the series. It was raw, emotional and just a very sad book. It was also simpler than the first 2. It was more personal than political. I really felt for Brr. In whatever he choses he is always criticized. He always makes the wrong choice. He has a hard time trying to fit in with humans and even with Animals alike. He does not have any family. It was very relatable than the first two.
  • (3/5)
    The weakest of the three "Wicked" sequels, "A Lion Among Men" is still an enjoyable book and Brr's backstory is interesting. This book helps flesh out what was only hinted at in "Wicked" and also answers many questions about Mother Yackle, though it largely feels like an intemediary story that's meant to bridge the narrative begun in "Son of a Witch" to the conclusion of "Out of Oz." The best comparison I can make is to compare this book to "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" in that its narrative lacks a firm beginning and concrete resolution since it's not the final book in the larger narrative of "Son of a Witch," "A Lion Among Men," and "Out of Oz." That said, it's still enjoyable if you liked the other books and want to read the whole series.
  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Plot: 3 stars
    Characters: 3 stars
    Style: 3 stars
    Pace: 2 stars

    There comes a point in every series where it feels like the author's just putting out a book to link other books in the series together and doesn't really care. Often, this is because what was planned as a singular book (or trilogy, but less commonly) turns into an unexpected monster hit, and they're pressured (by agents/editors/readers/money) to do more of it, because there's clearly an audience. Entire careers are built on this method- See Laura K Hamilton, Robin Cook, Dan Brown, etc.

    It might be commercially successful, but it shows in the prose. It's dumbed down vs Wicked, the plot meanders and the whole thing could have fit, plot wise, into a picture book. There was character development, sure, but I never really cared enough about either of them for that to be a driving force in reading it. Really, I was reading it because it was on my desk, I was too tired to write, and my other reading choices were worse. Given some of the other books I've read at work, that's saying something.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    I really love Gregory Maguire's writing style, and I love where he has gone with this story over the three novels. The structure of this book, however, felt somewhat scattered--it wasn't until the end, the last few chapters, where I started to feel that it had any coherency, unlike in Son of a Witch, where although it may not have always been clear what the connections where exactly, they always felt like connections. I suppose this is due to the fact that the protagonist in this story had little relation to characters I'd become attached to in the previous two novels--I still felt at odds at the end, and wishing a bit more to see the Point.

    As always, however, Maguire's turn of phrase and ability to put complex thoughts into interesting prose did not disappoint, and whatever questions I had about the plot, I was carried through easily on the strength of the writing.
  • (4/5)
    A bit precious, the machinery of telling the story feels somewhat awkward, but characters great, very funny dialogue. I have just read the first 2 in the series again, and It could be that I'm just jaded. Looking forward to the final installment.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Beautifully styled prose, though the title character -- being cowardly, naive and oblivious for most of the book -- is not the best company, and it becomes frustrating wading through one failure after another.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)
    I love Maguire's style and use of language. As he writes, I can hear his voice narrating and performing (which is why I won't spoil it with the audiobook, Maguire himself is a wonderful performer, and it was a delight to see him in person.) Lion is not as compelling as the previous two books, but gains momentum with the reappearance of Yackle, and the subsequent explanation of the character.
  • (2/5)
    I don't know what the problem is with me and Mr. Maguire. His works are full of elements that would usually suck me in. They're always twisty retellings of classic children's stories, often dark and even cynical. I LOVE that sort of stuff, usually. But for some reason, I couldn't manage to feel invested in this one, let alone its two predecessors. It's like banging my head against a wall - "But... but... I should be loving this!" Sorry, but no.

    To be honest, I didn't actually hate it either, which only adds to the general feeling of perplexity. There's no obvious reason why it should be bad. Well, maybe the aimlessness of the plot - most of the time, you have to look really hard to find any notion that the story is moving forward, or backward, or anywhere else. But outside of that, it's a mystery to me.

    Anyway, I liked this one better than Son of a Witch, so I'm going to give it 3 stars, then promptly avoid eye contact with it for the rest of my life. Awkward.

    edit: okay, 2 stars it is.
  • (1/5)
    After reading Wicked and Son of a Witch.......Lion Among Men was pathetic. I could not make myself finish it. Very disappointing.
  • (3/5)
    This account picks up about 6 or 7 years after Son of a Witch ends.



    This is mainly the account of Brrr, also called the Cowardly Lion, his life, how he came to be called the Cowardly Lion. His lifelong attempt to be accepted in society, all during a time when Animals were being discriminated against.



    We also are reacquainted with characters from the previous books. The clock and the dwarf reappear at a junction where the forces from the Emerald City meet up with the Munchinlanders in civil war.



    While many may have felt this book didn't go anywhere, I feel it helps add detail and background to some major characters. It also lets us know what has happened to characters we had lost track of and sets the scene for the next book.
  • (3/5)
    My least favorite of the three Oz books I've read so far. The lion's history was pretty depressing, and this book was a little weirder than the previous books in the Wicked series. A little bit too much politics for me, also. But I'm still looking forward to reading Out of Oz.
  • (5/5)
    A am not usually a fantasy reader, but Gregory Maguire is amazing. His Wicked series is a must read for all who love to read. I can't wait to read his latest, Out of Oz.
  • (3/5)
    I just keep waiting for a happy ending and not getting one. This story was full of disappointments. I want a main character who I like and empathize with, and I want a story that turns out well. What I wanted most when I started reading this book was to know that Liir was happy. I wanted him back with Shell, raising their daughter together. I didn't want to hear about a lion who fails to do more than find transitory happiness. Maybe he'll find meaning eventually- the book seemed to go that way, but not yet, and I want to see it. I want to know that the characters are okay.
  • (5/5)
    The third of 'The Wicked Years' books which began with 'Wicked',and continues with 'Son of a Witch' and 'A Lion Among Men'. In the present volume we follow the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Cowardly Lion (otherwise known as Brrr). He appears early in the story searching for news about the Wicked Witch of the West and her son Liir. This tale mainly concerns the Lion's own odyssey however and charts his remarkable journey and adventures before the Wicked Years (presumably) continue.A fascinating and complicated journey for both the Lion and the reader. Well worth making however.
  • (2/5)
    This is the third book in the "Wicked Years" series from Gregory Maguire. I'm still trying to figure out what I really think about this book and why. As with the previous books, this novel gives us an alternate look at the world of Oz that many of us only know from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (most likely the Judy Garland movie, but also perhaps the book). I, for one, keep intending to go and read the many Oz books written by L. F. Baum, but sadly I've never done so.That said, I'm fairly certain that (apart from the high level similarities such as local, character types, etc) Maguire's envisioning of Oz is quite different from Baum's. And that's not necessarily a bad thing…it's just different.I enjoyed Wicked (book 1), although I preferred the hit Broadway play based on the novel. I liked Son of a Witch as a continuation of the story from book 1. It presented an intriguing follow-up to the intrigue and difficulties that were unraveling at the end of the first book.With book 3, we catch up with the story a few years after book 2 and so in some ways it is a continuation of the saga. However, this book is largely an introspective presented to us by the Cowardly Lion and set alongside a bit of thoughtful backstory from Yackle as well as the slow moving action of the Time Dragon.As for an overall storyline with rising and falling action, this story strays from the normal mode. The meta story involves a war being waged across the land and presents us with the Lion (Brrrr) interviewing Yackle on a site which will soon be right in the middle of an ensuing battle. The approaching armies add some urgency to the timeliness of their discussion but the war and the battle exist on the periphery so it's difficult to fully gage any rising or falling action or suspense based on the war in Oz.Instead, we spend most of the time learning the backstory of the Cowardly Lion, beginning from his life in Oz around the same time Elphaba was making her mark and then following his actions up until the present day. Part of the narrative seems to be his search for family or at least for his own "origin story" to try and figure out where he came from and who he was.The idea of identity figures strongly in the book. Over the years, Brrr has done what he can to stay comfortable and safe but often at the expense of any real definitive action on his part. He constantly finds himself in the middle of predicaments and sometimes he even feels strongly one way or another, but he quite often takes the path of least resistance attempting to avoid confrontation and commitment. His inaction (or sometimes, poorly planned/executed actions) lead to him being constantly slandered and associated with the bad forces around the land. He finds himself accused both of being an ally to Elphaba and and ally to the Wizard in her destruction. Similar paradoxical attributions happen throughout his life.Brrr introspectively considers what it is that really matters in his life. He contemplates the repercussions of his actions (and inactions) and generally feels like he's let himself down, although he never seemed to have a clear set of expectations for himself.His mission to interview Yackle is a sort of last-ditch effort to make something of himself…though at the same time, the main motivating factor for endeavoring on the mission is actually one of self-preservation so once again he is very much compelled into action rather than freely and consciously choosing to undertake this action.By the end of the book, Brrr has a better sense of himself. He's still a bit confused. He's still not fully sure of where he fits in. But at least he's made up his mind to actually DO something….he's thought through some of the consequences of his potential action and decided that whatever the cost, he must do what he believes. And that's key…he finally has a cause he believes in, even if it's just a glimmer of belief.Often I found the narrative to be an ambling mis-mash of ideas and stories. I kept trying to fit in some sort of larger meta-story or gather a better overall sense of how things were going in the larger world of Oz. But then I realized/decided that this book was more about individuals…personalities….Character….of taking control of our life by deciding WHAT we each want to do and WHY we want to do it…and then having the integrity to DO and LIVE the life we believe in.So in the end, I felt like this story was more an exploration of the psychology of the individual than about some larger than life war in a fantasy land. That's not the sort of book I was expecting, but it was still an interesting read. I understand there's a 4th book being written in the same world and I'm interested to see where it goes. Maguire's stories (even those with a more "natural" progression/plot) seem intent on exploring human (or Lion) nature. I think if I approach his books with that in mind rather than expecting an adventure story, I'll have a better time. As it was, I didn't hate the book, I just found it more "work" than "entertainment" to read. If you've read it, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
  • (3/5)
    A Lion Among Men is mostly backstory on the Cowardly Lion. A very different past than one would imagine him to have, but interesting to read about. The action in the present is less entertaining, but a halfway decent excuse for the Lion to relate his past to us.After reading other reviews I expected a less entertaining book than this was. Not to say that it was good or anything, but it was better than suspected. Some long-wondered-about questions were answered about the life of Elphaba and other major players in Wicked, and some other questions were raised. Hopefully there will be an omega to this series and hopefully it will equal or even surpass the excellence of Wicked.
  • (4/5)
    The story of the cowardly lion is a very interesting one. The third book walks us through his childhood, how he met Dorothy, and the part he is to play in the future of Oz.The lion, Brrr, has quite an eventful past, and the way he received the name "cowardly" is very entertaining, and yet very sad. Brrr's entire life has been trying to fit in, somewhere, anywhere, and the fear that he never truly will haunts him.We are introduced once again to the strange character of Yackle, the old woman who has followed the story of Oz through all three books so far. We also get a glimpse into her history and why she seems to be so eternal. We meet the Clock of the Time Dragan and it helps us to tie many of the loose ends together. Although the series still seems to lack a true conclusion, most of what has been on my mind was cleared up throughout this book.4/5
  • (1/5)
    Couldn't finish it. Actually, I could barely start it. I cared nothing for the chcaracters and couldn't remember much of anything I was apparently supposed to make sense of this one. Not worth my time.
  • (3/5)
    My affection for this series dims with each volume. In this third book in The Wicked Years, we learn about the lives of the Cowardly Lion and Yackle, and the fate of Nor. Yes, some questions are answered, but I do not see a satisfying ending to this series in sight. If you continue to love this twisted version of Oz and the political and religious power struggles therein, this should appeal. Without characters I care for at all, such as Elphaba, or even Liir, I was left flat by this one.
  • (3/5)
    This is the fourth adult novel by Maguire I've read. It's the first I didn't especially like. The primary characters are Yackle and Brrr the Cowardly Lion. The two of them banter endlessly in an antagonistic fashion and that grew a little tiresome. There are many details about the life of Brrr which serve to illustrate his character. By the end of the book I began to feel I understood how his actions were consistent with his character, and that made the ending really quite perfect - he began to understand himself well enough to finally do something not fitting to his character, and so begin anew. And that is the meaningful message - none of us ever reaches a point where we can no longer bring ourselves a better future. The ending really was wonderful, but I didn't think the long road there was worth it. I nevertheless eagerly await the author's next book, having totally loved other novels he's written.
  • (5/5)
    The final book of Gregory Maguire's trilogy loses none of the magic and bite of Wicked and flows more easily than Son of a Witch, perhaps because it doesn't get lost in the dungeons of Emerald City as that one did. Maguire's prose is itself often magical. We see starry nights as amazing as Van Gogh's, hear music from oak string trees, and see characters morfing as in an Anime film or even a cartoon. The amazing assortment of characters continue: dwarfs, Munchkins, Animals, animals, winged women, but, with no Elphaba, no green ones.The satires on society and politics continue, and, to them, is added religion. He makes an interesting--and clever case for the impossibility of their being music in heaven, centered on the fact that music is time-based and heaven is not. (If I understood him, or rather the character who said it, correctly.)There is one brilliantly erotic scene between Animals of different species. The paragraphs on food are mouthwatering, although one can hardly reproduce the meals this side of Oz.It's strange that I loved these books as, even as a child, I never read fairy tales, or the Oz books. I did read reality based kids' series like The Bobbsey Twins, Heidi, and all of Louisa May Alcott. I also read all the adult novels in my parents' library since I was blessedly unattended most of the time.The only book I did read that treated animals as people was a curiosity in my parents' library called, Lightfoot the Leaping Goat, which, along with Heidi and the Alcott books, I read and reread at least fifty times each. I can't explain that aberration. Nor can I explain the aberration of The Wicked Years. I don't like fantasy. Nor do I like science fiction. Do you ever wonder why you like the books you do? It's not only their artistic worth, although Maguire's prose is very fine, very vivid, wickedly satiric, but never with a bludgeon.
  • (1/5)
    Wicked was interesting in that it fleshed out a story known to most Western readers: The Wizard of Oz. Son of a Witch was only interesting i its connections to the Wizard of Oz and Wicked. This book is even further removed from The Wizard of Oz and Wicked and suffers from a severe lack of interesting and engaging content. Yackle and the Lion, as portrayed in this book, are characters worth only a footnote, not an entire book. The book half explains things in the series and then goes on about other things in very choppy fashion. A disappointing and confusing conclusion to the Oz series.