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PeppermintGloom [userpic]
Son of a Witch
by PeppermintGloom (peppermintgloom)
at June 7th, 2006 (09:22 pm)

current location: Laccy's Library
current mood: satisfied

So it's my turn to start, eh? ;)

I haven't read Wicked since June 1999, so when I picked up Son of a Witch, I did feel a little trepidation. I almost put it down and re-read Wicked first, but I knew charlasweb would kill me if I made her wait too long, and I had to get the book read before summer school started. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Son of a Witch was a solid book on its own. When Maguire brought in characters and events from Wicked, I remembered them.

The only thing that kept nagging at me for a while was that I couldn't remember whether Liir was Elphaba's son. And then I remembered that even Elphaba wasn't entirely sure. (Except that she was, really, wasn't she?)

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though it's clearly a "middle" book. There are a lot of loose ends here, and I don't think Liir really achieved much on his quest, but I don't regret any of the time I spent reading this book, and I hope we get more. The maunts and Glinda made me laugh out loud, and I know there's more to Shell than we saw in this book. Maybe Maguire will focus on him next?

Okay, my eyes are burning and I'm falling asleep at the keyboard (at 9:20pm, for shame!). charlasweb, I believe you wanted to dish? Let's hear it!


Posted by: charlasweb (charlasweb)
Posted at: June 8th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)

Well, you were kinder than I was on your first impression. I've had a little time to cool down though, so here goes. I had the same consideration at the beginning... should I re-read Wicked or not? I just read it last year, so it hasn't been as long but I always worry with continuity when I read sequels. I think you're right about it being able to stand on it's own in that way. Which is just as well, since I've loaned out my copy... :)

Other Likes: Maguire really can develop a character. He's as good with humor as he is with heart-wrenching, and the book is liberally sprinkled with both. I always feel like his characters are fully drawn, never purely good or purely evil. This is the largest appeal of his writing for me.

Dislikes: Even for a middle book, I feel like some things should get resolved a little bit. If Liir had found Nor (or done anything really other than wander around Oz), there still would have been room for Shell, or Liir's baby, or even just more Liir in the next book. It seems a bit too commercial or mercenary to just give pieces of the story, providing almost no resolution, to get the audience interested in the next book. It seems unfair to this novel, and it makes the pouty three year old in me say "Well, maybe I won't read the next book if you're going to be like that!," even though I know that I absolutely will. I'm such a sucker.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. It made me want to read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister because I think maybe the structure of the original story (i.e. clear beginning and ending) helps Maguire form his structure too. And to be fair, there is a little resolution. We are fairly positive by the end of the novel that Liir is Elphaba's son. Liir, through Candle, helps Queen Iforgothername to die. I'll give it credit for that. It's not such a bad review if my only real complaint is "I wish there had been more of it," right?

Posted by: PeppermintGloom (peppermintgloom)
Posted at: June 8th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)

To be fair, I finished the book on Sunday and didn't say anything about finishing it for a couple of days because I wanted to decide whether I was disappointed or not. In the end, I decided I wasn't because of that very reason you state -- I can't say it was bad if I wanted more.

And Liir. What I like about Liir is that I don't know whether I really like Liir. Sometimes I do; sometimes I want him to stop whining about how much Elphaba favored Chistery over him. Sometimes I like that he resists his mission from Queen NsomethingyeahIforgothernametoo (Nastoya maybe?); sometimes I think he's a complete asshole for leaving her to die and pursuing his own needs. This falls into what you're talking about when you say Maguire's characters are fully-drawn. Liir is a "real" character; he's doesn't really know what will make him happy, so he's chasing what he thinks is supposed to make him happy.

As for the comment about it being too commercial to give just pieces of the story, I find this interesting because I take the opposite view. I think the book would probably have sold better (and also received better reviews) if he had given it a more conclusive ending. I can see what you mean in the sense that it ends on a note that we know there's more coming, but most readers don't necessarily like that -- I'm thinking particularly of the Maguire readers who came to Wicked because of the musical, which I'm told has a very different tone from the book. I think the lack of an ending might turn away those readers and could be a bad move on Maguire's part from a commercial standpoint.

Speaking of the musical, what did you think about the bits when Liir was in Emerald City, when Elphaba's name was "being sung througout the streets" (or whatever the quote was)? Clever and witty or just plain cheesy?

Posted by: charlasweb (charlasweb)
Posted at: June 8th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Wicked Witch

You know, I think you're right. It think it's Nastoya. She's one of my favorite characters for some reason... very regal, while at the same time, all too human/Elephant - with the smell and the impatience, etc.

Liir. Well, I agree about him getting on my nerves sometimes. I would have been just as happy to skip all the teen angst, and the fitting in for the sake of fitting in (especially with the military, etc). He could be a real tool at times. However, this was pretty true to life. I'm glad to see him coming into his own a little bit more toward the end of the novel.

Candle actually got on my nerves a little bit more than Liir. She's a bit too "earth mother" for my taste, what with the healing him through music and all that. I was glad she was pissed at him when he got home. It redeemed her a bit for me. (Although I liked the structure Maguire used with Candle's music and Liir's memories. That was well done I thought.

As for the musical, to be perfectly honest - I forgot it existed. I read the dedication at the beginning of the novel and it promptly slipped right out of my head from that point on. However, since he does make the dedication to the cast of the musical, it seems as if the fact that Elphaba's name is "sung through the streets" is a bit of a shout out to the peeps. :) And you're right, they probably were disappointed in the novel, both novels really if it is so different. I guess I was just annoyed that this novel seemed to suffer for his attempt at setting up the third novel. Like I said, I think he could have provided a bit more resolution in this book and still had plenty to work with for the third book.

So, since we finished the "assigned" June readings in and we've still got three weeks left, do you want to try to fit something else in or are you too busy with classes? Any of you lurking monkeys out there should feel free to make recommendations as well.

Posted by: PeppermintGloom (peppermintgloom)
Posted at: June 12th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)

All of Maguire's characters are very human in this novel; I think that's why I like them so much. I liked Nastoya too. I couldn't fault her for wanting to die in her natural form, with that last bit of dignity. And Liir getting on my nerves was a reason why I liked him; it's that whole Byronic hero thing.

Ah, Candle. She's an interesting one. "Earth Mother," eh? I guess I kind-of saw her as a bit of an idiot-savant-type, or something. She didn't necessarily heal him through music on purpose. It was more like, "Hey, look what happens when I play music! How about that!" And then, "Look what happens if I have sex with him! How about that!" I'm curious about her leaving, though. Do you think she left because the baby was green? Or do you think there was another reason? I had thought she would be the kind of mother who would love her child no matter what, but maybe the knowledge that it was Elphaba's grandchild was too much?

I actually didn't read the dedication. I had figured Maguire thought he was being clever and doing a shout-out to his peeps, but I thought it was just cheesy.

Well, we could do another book. I'm currently trying to slog through Faulkner's Absolom, Absolom for my Denton Literary Society meeting, if you're interested. (Although why you would be....) I'm also tempted to pick up Maguire's Mirror, Mirror, since it's the only one I haven't read yet.

Or we could, you know, make an actual post and ask the lurking monkeys if they have any recommendations. If they haven't finished the book yet, they may not be reading this.

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