A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

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Since 1995, Gregory Maguire has wowed literary audiences with his ability to take popular children's stories and turn them into dark, yet alluring remakes that cause us to take a look within as we find ourselves within the characters that he creates. Best known for his international bestseller, Wicked (which has been adapted into an award winning play), Maguire continues to build upon L. Frank Baum's well known classic The Wizard of Oz, allowing us to receive a view on Baum's lesser characters in a way that causes us to question not only ourselves, but the way that mankind acts towards not only one another, but towards those who do not belong.


In A Lion among Men, we find ourselves once again diving into the turmoil that is Maguire's Oz. The story begins right where it left off, with the throne of Emperor now under the control of Elphaba's overly zealous brother Shell. In searching for the infamous Grimmerie, Shell sends out a very familiar character, Sir Brr, better known as the Cowardly Lion. In his search for the mystical spell book, Brr comes to find himself at a covenant caught between a battle between the Emperor's Army, and the Munchkinland Militia. Offered information in exchange for his story, Brr tells his tale. It is here our story begins.











Going through his life, we are taken for a ride through Brr's past, from his time in the Gillken forest, to his ever fated meeting with Dorothy, we watch as Brr goes through his life to discover who he really is and where he belongs. His story is a tale of naive ambitions and wondrous dreams that are later betrayed by the innate vices of sloth and indecision, as well as a fair amount of sheer bad luck. Human malice plays a major role in this story, with talking animals as second-class citizens in Oz. As with Wicked's Elphaba, Maguire builds appealingly and daringly on Baum's original conception, with Brr emerging from the tale as a figure whose self-knowledge had only painfully accentuated his status as failure and misfit. On top of that, the story reveals to us secrets hidden within the previous stories, such as the origin of Yackle and the ever omniscient Clock of the Time Dragon.


What makes this story so good is not only does it contain depth and clarity of vision; it also has an excellence of prose, richness of theme, intricacy of characterization, and shapeliness of plot. And though it does contain some frustrations such as it doesn't pack the punch that its predecessor Wicked does, A Lion Among Men is still a good addition to the bookshelf of those who are fans of Maguire's work, or just prefer a different perspective on life.





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