Oz the Fantasy or Oz the Reality?

I have been reading a series of four books referred to as “the wicked years” (amazing storytelling!). They are about Oz, but with a twist.

Most readers are familiar with Oz from the movie version(s) of The Wizard of Oz. But there are actually 16 Oz books written by L.F. Baum, and several other approved books written by other authors, Yes, it is a much bigger series than Narnia or Lord of The Rings.

But the Oz you might be tempted to read – yes, even as an adult I enjoy rereading those books – is a fairy tale. It leaves out adult topics, such as romance and war, political manoeuvring and poverty, swearing and cruelty.

The good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad; but in real life, most people are pragmatists with good intentions (or at least they justify their actions with good intentions).

The Wicked Years is a series of four books (and now a smash hit Broadway musical, too!) that tells the “real” story of Oz.

  • The “Wicked Witch of the West” wasn’t actually evil.  In fact, she was a freedom fighter who turned paranoid and unsociable over time.
  • Glinda was a society lady, and had very little magic power of her own.
  • Glinda and the Witch were actually good friends.
  • The straw man was, well, a straw man.
  • The Wizard… pretty much what the movies and the books portrayed him to be.
  • And, yes, there were, strangely enough, flying monkeys.
  • Ozma, Tiktok, the Glass Cat, General Jinjur – they all are somewhat less in real life than the fantasy fed to the kids who read beyond the first Oz book.

There are trains and industry and bigotry and much less magic than in the fairy tale version that came down to us as kids and through Hollywood.

So which is better? The sanitized version for the kids? Or the “true” story for the adults?

Frankly, I like them both.

In real life, the truth is important. But so are our fantasies. You might be more disposed to one or the other, and that is fine. Don’t underestimate the other. Truth and fantasy make a powerful combination.

These are the four books – I highly recommend them.

READ ALSO: The Four Candles
READ ALSO: The fable of the Porcupine family