First off, Maguire is a serious wordsmith. His writing
style is incredible and almost seems like it belongs in the 19th century more than the 21st. He has an amazing writing gift. For the most part, I really enjoyed both of these books. Wicked was amazing and tells the story of
Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before Dorothy came to Oz. While it's a great story, it's a dark story and was at times a little too "adult" for my taste. As for Son of a Witch, I also enjoyed it. It centered around Elphaba's son, Liir. The central character in Son of a Witch was not as interesting as in Wicked, but the story moved along well and kept my attention. The middle of the book got a bit boring and I had to plow through, but it was worth it. It's a tamer story than Wicked.
There are heavy spiritual overtones to both of these stories. Some of Oz's population claim to be worshippers of the Unnamed God. There are churches to the Unnamed God and convents and missionaries. Many Ozians are annoyed at attempts to save their souls. The Unnamed God is often revered or feared. He is portrayed as distant and uninvolved in the lives of his worshippers. To me, it was an obvious reference to the Christian faith. While some of these depictions were true, what is never seen is any character with an active relationship -- just religion. It was just another reminder to me of how we must reject religion and embrace relationship. Religion turns people off, but a relationship with God is world-changing!
Obviously the broadway musical, Wicked, is based on the first of these books, but many changes were made to the musical version. The musical isn't as dark as the novel and has a much different ending. They are both good, but should not be compared too much. (I get to take Mollie to see Wicked in San Francisco next Wednesday as a Daddy/daughter date for her 13 birthday. Can't wait to see it again!)
A Lion Among Men is the third book in Maguire's The Wicked Years series. It tells the story of the Cowardly Lion after Dorothy leaves Oz. I look forward to reading it in my spare time soon.