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A Lion Among Men

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In this much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion - the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in Wicked. While civil war looms, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, an enigmatic figure known as Brrr - the Cowardly Lion - arrives searching for information about Elphaba Th In this much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion - the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in Wicked. While civil war looms, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, an enigmatic figure known as Brrr - the Cowardly Lion - arrives searching for information about Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West. As payment, Yackle demands some answers of her own. Brrr surrenders his story: abandoned as a cub, his earliest memories are gluey hazes, and his life's path is no Yellow Brick Road. A Lion Among Men chronicles a battle of wits hastened by the Emerald City's approaching armies. At once a portrait of a would-be survivor and a panoramic glimpse of a world gone shrill with war fever, Gregory Maguire's new novel is written with the sympathy and power that have made his books contemporary classics.


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In this much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion - the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in Wicked. While civil war looms, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, an enigmatic figure known as Brrr - the Cowardly Lion - arrives searching for information about Elphaba Th In this much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion - the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in Wicked. While civil war looms, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, an enigmatic figure known as Brrr - the Cowardly Lion - arrives searching for information about Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West. As payment, Yackle demands some answers of her own. Brrr surrenders his story: abandoned as a cub, his earliest memories are gluey hazes, and his life's path is no Yellow Brick Road. A Lion Among Men chronicles a battle of wits hastened by the Emerald City's approaching armies. At once a portrait of a would-be survivor and a panoramic glimpse of a world gone shrill with war fever, Gregory Maguire's new novel is written with the sympathy and power that have made his books contemporary classics.

30 review for A Lion Among Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    zappernapper

    To be honest... I'm getting frustrated with Maguire. His first book in the series (Wicked) has received national (if not global) acclaim, as it rightly should. I was originally entranced by Maguire's ability to reinvent Oz while still keeping the classical whimsical elements alive, in fact fleshing them out by putting them in a realistic and harsh reality of social commentary. However, with the introduction of Son of a Witch, about which he has said he never planned for, Maguire has gone on to t To be honest... I'm getting frustrated with Maguire. His first book in the series (Wicked) has received national (if not global) acclaim, as it rightly should. I was originally entranced by Maguire's ability to reinvent Oz while still keeping the classical whimsical elements alive, in fact fleshing them out by putting them in a realistic and harsh reality of social commentary. However, with the introduction of Son of a Witch, about which he has said he never planned for, Maguire has gone on to tell some other story. This latest installment does give some halfway disappointing closure on the characters of Yackal and the dwarf that still for some reason doesn't make all kinds of sense; however, the story of the lion is long and depressing, filled with themes all too similar to the last book - of course instead of exploring failure because of fate, we explore failure because of cowardice. In fact that seems to be the core theme of the entire series - exploring failure. Maguire seems to have finally mastered his tempo problems of the first two books: the action, dialogue, and introspection all blend seemlessly to make this an easy, engaging read. However the only reason I kept reading was because I wanted to get through the endless history, on to what would happen next. This book revisits too much of the old books to really be called new, except for about two chapters worth of actually interesting revelations. That which isn't already known to the reader, and has no relation to the mysteries of the past or goings on of the present, is all completely useless and fluff. The worst travesty is the complete lack of any more references to the original books. That was the best part of Wicked, incorporating talking Animals, Lurline, the deadly desert, Boq, and a variety of other elements into the rich work. With the second we got a cocktease in the form of Tip. This third only builds on what's already there, dropping the name of Mumbly (Mombi). If you fell in love with the first book but were apprehensive about the second, I say save yourself the time and money and stop where you are. Maguire ended the first one perfectly and appropriately, allowing the reader to draw their own fantastic conclusions. If you've read the second and loved it - by all means, read this as well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Yes, A Lion Among Men has them all! This is the Cowardly Lion's story in a nutshell...and a few other nuts are de-shelled as well. Watching cowards in action is hard to stomach. We forever wish them to be brave, to show some sign of courage. But that is not the Lion's way. Following him on his cowardly journey through life is taxing. On the other hand, if you're a superfan of Oz - the sort who's at least read the Baum originals if not all of the myriad fanfic o Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Yes, A Lion Among Men has them all! This is the Cowardly Lion's story in a nutshell...and a few other nuts are de-shelled as well. Watching cowards in action is hard to stomach. We forever wish them to be brave, to show some sign of courage. But that is not the Lion's way. Following him on his cowardly journey through life is taxing. On the other hand, if you're a superfan of Oz - the sort who's at least read the Baum originals if not all of the myriad fanfic out there - Maguire's re-imaginings of the Land of Oz can be enthralling. He gives one-dimensional characters two and even three dimensions. He turns the map of Oz into a living geography. It's interesting to see what he's done with the place! If you're not hep to Maguire's take on Oz, here's a word of warning: He has a somewhat comic approach and his material is occasionally blue. It's not all potty talk, but expect a fuck or shit now and then, along with the occasional mention of sex in it's many forms. His infusion of reality into a fantasy world matures the source material. Sometimes it works, sometimes it misses the mark. It's not always easy to go from serious to ridiculous and back again. If A Lion Among Men is said to miss its mark - as many critics complain - it's due to a lack of a truly engaging story. Again, I point to the coward issue. Sure, one can sympathize with the Lion and his unfortunate courage-sapping beginnings, but sympathy runs out eventually upon seeing someone constantly fleeing and abandoning obligations and friends.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    So. The third book in what's now referred to as The Wicked Years. Alright. I adore Wicked, both in its written and musical forms. Son of a Witch was a decent sequel. And I was really excited when I learned that we'd get the Lion's perspective in all this. Brrr is on Emerald City business, in search of the oracle Yackle, who was mentioned in Madame Morrible's notes. Why? Mostly in search of both The Grimmerie, Elphaba's book of magic, and Liir, her son. Yackle was often on the outskirts of Elphab So. The third book in what's now referred to as The Wicked Years. Alright. I adore Wicked, both in its written and musical forms. Son of a Witch was a decent sequel. And I was really excited when I learned that we'd get the Lion's perspective in all this. Brrr is on Emerald City business, in search of the oracle Yackle, who was mentioned in Madame Morrible's notes. Why? Mostly in search of both The Grimmerie, Elphaba's book of magic, and Liir, her son. Yackle was often on the outskirts of Elphaba's life and Brrr wants to know exactly why. It soon gets mixed up with Brrr's past, Yackle's past, and the current civil war between EC and Munchkinland. Revolts, Emperors, and the like. But for all my excitement of this, I feel really let down. There were parts that were interesting, both with Brrr and Yackle. Brrr's childhood, for instance, since we know he was the cub in Wicked, and his interractions with Dorothy. Yackle's memories of Elphaba and Liir and Fiyero. I'm sad to say, though, that I was often bored by this, and was just trying to finish it for the sake of finishing it. It's clear from the ending that there will be another book, and why not? People loved Wicked, and want to meet up with those familiar characters again. But I really, really hope the next book is much better. Too much politics and information that really isn't vital to the story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Gregory Maguire wrote a terrific book called "Wicked" that I liked a lot and that spawned a Broadway musical that bore only a passing resemblance to it, but was also terrific. He couldn't leave well enough alone and wrote a sequel, "Son of a Witch" that was really bizarre and a little creepy and didn't make a whole lot of sense, but was okay--sort of. Well, it's sort of okay now that I've read installment three, "A Lion Among Men". "Son of a Witch" left the reader with a ginormous cliffhanger. I Gregory Maguire wrote a terrific book called "Wicked" that I liked a lot and that spawned a Broadway musical that bore only a passing resemblance to it, but was also terrific. He couldn't leave well enough alone and wrote a sequel, "Son of a Witch" that was really bizarre and a little creepy and didn't make a whole lot of sense, but was okay--sort of. Well, it's sort of okay now that I've read installment three, "A Lion Among Men". "Son of a Witch" left the reader with a ginormous cliffhanger. It read like an unfinished novel. Maguire left a lot of loose plot threads. So, you knew there had to be a sequel. Unfortunately, "A Lion Among Men" is not that sequel until the last 50-60 pages. It's not until the very end that he ties this story into the first two. When he does it's through a literal deus ex machina twist that just tells you absolutely everything. This book is 250 pages of prologue and 50 pages of story. Worse, that story is just a set up for volume 4. I love my husband dearly and it was really thoughtful of him to get me this book knowing that I'd read the first two and that I loved the musical "Wicked". I just wish Maguire had written a book worthy of the first volume.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Considering how much I enjoyed Wicked, and how much more I enjoyed Son of a Witch, I found A Lion Among Men disappointing. I was all geared up to find out what happens with Liir and you-know-what-from-the-end-of-Son of a Witch, but the third book in this series barely mentions him. Instead, this book focuses primarily on the Cowardly Lion and his life experiences, and touches a bit on Fiyero's daughter. I found the author's language annoying, if not incomprehensible at times (or maybe I just did Considering how much I enjoyed Wicked, and how much more I enjoyed Son of a Witch, I found A Lion Among Men disappointing. I was all geared up to find out what happens with Liir and you-know-what-from-the-end-of-Son of a Witch, but the third book in this series barely mentions him. Instead, this book focuses primarily on the Cowardly Lion and his life experiences, and touches a bit on Fiyero's daughter. I found the author's language annoying, if not incomprehensible at times (or maybe I just didn't have the patience to figure it out), and felt as though the effort he spent trying to sound profound could have been better spent developing a worthwhile plot for the Lion; overall the reading felt tedious. That said, I did enjoy some of the book, particularly the bits involving Mother Yackle, a strange character first introduced in Wicked, whose history is revealed in A Lion Among Men, and is a lovely example of the bizarre, yet imaginatively delightful writing I was expecting from Gregory Maguire throughout the book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    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 were, exactly, they always felt like connections. I suppose this is due to the fact that the protagonist in this story had litt 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 were, 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Miles

    After the rushed feeling of "Son of a Witch", MacGuire redeems himself with this novel... it made me feel as if some wounds were healed for both the reader and the characters.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jamieson

    It has been three long years since we last traveled to OZ. And much has changed. The land, once joined together, is now separated into two parties: those that support the current Wizard of OZ and the Munchkinlanders who long to be free and their own people. It is not the OZ we’ve come to know. It is an OZ on the brink of war and on the cusp of social change. Whether it is change for the better remains to be seen. Heedless of the turmoil of OZ that surrounds him, Brr, The Cowardly Lion, is on a miss It has been three long years since we last traveled to OZ. And much has changed. The land, once joined together, is now separated into two parties: those that support the current Wizard of OZ and the Munchkinlanders who long to be free and their own people. It is not the OZ we’ve come to know. It is an OZ on the brink of war and on the cusp of social change. Whether it is change for the better remains to be seen. Heedless of the turmoil of OZ that surrounds him, Brr, The Cowardly Lion, is on a mission. He must find Yackle, Oracle and Seer, and find out why her name was mentioned in the papers of the deceased Miss Morrible. Miss Morrible used to teach Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West. He has other questions too: what really happened to Elphaba? Where is Liir, Elphaba’s son? And, though he is loathe to admit it, The Cowardly Lion has questions about himself too. Does Yackle know where he came from? Was he really freed by Elphaba from a cage? Brr will get the answers he seeks. But first, Yackle wants to know where his life has taken him, what paths have brought him to her. Yackle asks him to tell her of his life before she goes to the life beyond death. Brr concedes, thinking to tell her a few details to please her so that she will answer his questions. But Brr does not count on the power of the past. Once it is glanced at, it cries out to be examined, to be searched for clues, to be experienced all over again. Memories, after all, are a powerful magic all their own…. A Lion Among Men is the third book in Maguire’s Wicked Years series and it’s the best one by far. Where Wicked was good, Son of a Witch was great, A Lion Among Men is amazing! Where Wicked suffered from being too long and Son of a Witch suffered from not having enough to do with the characters we know and love from The Wizard of Oz, A Lion Among Men has us once again following the yellow brick road. And boy what a trip. They say that the third time is a charm and that is certainly the case with Maguire’s A Lion Among Men. He’s clearly found his stride and it’s the best book in the series. What’s lovely about the novel is getting to know The Cowardly Lion from a different perspective. We only briefly glimpsed him in Wicked and Son of a Witch. Now we get to know him intimately. This is his book after all. And, much like Elphaba who had wickedness thrust upon her, I wonder if Brrr The Cowardly Lion is really cowardly after all. A Lion Among Men is a very intimate book. As well as getting to know Brrr, we get to know Yackle and how she came to know the two women who would become the Wicked Witches of Oz. Some of the answers we learn in A Lion Among Men were from questions or mysteries first posed in Wicked, so the book should please fans of the series. But even better than that, A Lion Among men is a wonderful parable and parallel of one lion among men who, though surrounded by people, is incredibly alone. A Lion Among Men is one portrait of a lonely lion haunted by a need to belong. It’s at once funny, charming, harrowing, bleak and incredibly beautiful. If you haven’t read A Lion Among Men yet, do yourself a favour and visit OZ again. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte (Buried in Books)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don't know what to think about this one. I've wondered why I've persevered with this series (although it has been a long time since I read the previous book). These books are too clever for their own good - or at least they think they are. The central characters in this book are the Cowardly Lion (who briefly appeared in the original book as cub) and Old Mother Yackle - the Oracle. Yackle still lives with the maunts and she wants to die, but try as she might she still lives. She even had hersel I don't know what to think about this one. I've wondered why I've persevered with this series (although it has been a long time since I read the previous book). These books are too clever for their own good - or at least they think they are. The central characters in this book are the Cowardly Lion (who briefly appeared in the original book as cub) and Old Mother Yackle - the Oracle. Yackle still lives with the maunts and she wants to die, but try as she might she still lives. She even had herself shut in a crypt for a year and she still didn't die. So Yackle is trying to figure out why. The Cowardly Lion (his real name is Brr) comes to Yackle for information - he's looking for Liir and thinks she can help him. But what he's really looking for is the Grimmerie. As a servant of the court he has to find it - otherwise he'll end up in Southstairs. But Yackle needs to know if she can trust Brr - so she gets him to share memories. So this book is mainly flashbacks of both their past - but mainly Brr's past. Nothing ever seems to have gone right for him, no memory of his family, no memory of his childhood trip to Shiz, no friends, the only Animal in Society - when it wasn't fashionable to be an Animal. He stumbles from one uncomfortable situation to another. Yackle has no memory of being young - she was born old. Blind (after events in the previous book) - you're never quite sure if the visions she has are real or not. But she was always there on the outskirts of Elphaba's life. But Yackle isn't the only one prone to prophecy's - as a certain clock is making its way to the mauntery - accompanied by a woman that many thought was dead. Her tale is also woven into the story. The problem is, that this story feels like a bit of a filler, a way to manoeuvre characters in preparation for the finale. Because it also rehashes what happened to Liir and Candle - so the search can begin for them and their little girl. Because war has broken out and maybe a witches granddaughter is the only one who can put things right?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    What a disappointment! Wicked was an act of amazing and original brilliance, taking a world that we are all familiar with, and turning it completely upside down. Brilliantly imagined and equally brilliantly realized, one of its strongest suits was the way in which Maguire took elements of the original books, (not just Wizard) and wove them together into a familiar and yet wholly new world. Since then, his approach to the series feels labored and incomprehensible to me. Son of a Witch was weak, a What a disappointment! Wicked was an act of amazing and original brilliance, taking a world that we are all familiar with, and turning it completely upside down. Brilliantly imagined and equally brilliantly realized, one of its strongest suits was the way in which Maguire took elements of the original books, (not just Wizard) and wove them together into a familiar and yet wholly new world. Since then, his approach to the series feels labored and incomprehensible to me. Son of a Witch was weak, and left you waiting for resolution of a number of issues at the end of the book. With Lion Among Men, these issues all remain unresolved, and a convoluted, and confusing tale is told about the Lion. There are flashes of Maguires brilliance in the first few chapters, but then the story just gets too difficult to follow, and the characters never reach the power or internal complexity of Elphaba or Gallinda. I am sorry to say this, but I thought this book was a waste. If you read Son of A Witch and thought it was terrific, then knock yourself out, you'll probably like this one as well. If you were left wondering what happened to Oz, then I'd probably pass on Lion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    "Wicked" was fantastically drawn, while at the same time intriguingly vague and introspective. In my opinion it was a masterpiece. "Son of a Witch" and now "A Lion Among Men" only make blind attempts at creating the same mystique; they stumble along the way and end up a jumble of meaningless revelations that do nothing but create a more convoluted and less intriguing story. At the same time that story has none of the charm of "Wicked". Fleeting references to and reimaginings of the original Oz b "Wicked" was fantastically drawn, while at the same time intriguingly vague and introspective. In my opinion it was a masterpiece. "Son of a Witch" and now "A Lion Among Men" only make blind attempts at creating the same mystique; they stumble along the way and end up a jumble of meaningless revelations that do nothing but create a more convoluted and less intriguing story. At the same time that story has none of the charm of "Wicked". Fleeting references to and reimaginings of the original Oz books tend to be worn thin or overly dramatic. The inclusion of these later chapters do nothing but frustrate me. In truth I was happier speculating about the vague origins of Yackle and the dwarf; I was content guessing at the significance of a partitioned Oz and a witch's bumbling son. Some mysteries are better left to the imagination. Honestly, this idea of all stories becoming a trilogy is wearing thin. Why not leave a good thing alone and let our imaginations fill in the holes?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    LOVING this book. Every other page I want to mark a quote. Thought Wicked was intriguing, Son of a Witch, fabulous. This is even better. Maguire is either an Asperger's person or intimately knows someone who is, as he so perfectly describes the journey of a character who grew up with no social interaction abandoned in a forest (King of the Forest?), and slowly learns the art of conversation and dealing with people and relationships through eventual painful life experience. Beautifully and brillia LOVING this book. Every other page I want to mark a quote. Thought Wicked was intriguing, Son of a Witch, fabulous. This is even better. Maguire is either an Asperger's person or intimately knows someone who is, as he so perfectly describes the journey of a character who grew up with no social interaction abandoned in a forest (King of the Forest?), and slowly learns the art of conversation and dealing with people and relationships through eventual painful life experience. Beautifully and brilliantly done. I have a son with Asperger's...how interesting to view him as a "lion among men," not quite fitting in despite his ability to speak the same language. And how very interesting to view "cowardice" as inaction based on the inability to feel empathy or a connection with others. But this is a smart lion who carries a tin symbol of courage, because he does somehow sense this is something he lacks...and by having the physical medal, he therefore has corrected the problem, right? So literal, so Asperger's. I also love the encounter with Cubbins, the child bear who is in charge of the Northern Bear clan. Whoever is youngest is "in charge" (ain't that the truth in real life! and what a pithy observation about toddlers in general, or the pull between parents and children) because as the bears get older, they forget...particularly poignant for me as my real grandfather's Alzheimer's progresses and we hold circular conversations over and over, stuck in a never ending loop, exactly like a nonsensical verbal exchange in Alice in Wonderland. Did I mention how intellectually satisfying Maguire is?! It seems that every moment I spend with one of his novels is time spent well. I will no doubt owe the stupid library five bucks by the time I'm done with this one. _____ Some readers of Son of a Witch complained that Liir moped and groused and whined and laid in a figurative and literal coma for pages and pages before taking action, fulfilling his destiny, reaching his potential. I could see them really tearing their hair out over this poor "cowardly" Lion. I happen to really enjoy the intellectual exercise of reading Maguire. He's been called a "wordsmith," but he's an "ideasmith" just as surely. I think he's fascinating. In this 3rd Wicked novel, Maguire further explores perspective. What if the Wicked Witch, seen from a different angle, was really a misperceived freedom fighter, an intellectual hothead radical, and the Wizard an evil suspicious fraud. Now let's reexamine the Lion as a nursing cub ripped from his mother to become subject to laboratory experiments then thrown back into the forest, alone. He has no family, no social system, no language. We easily understand how hard it must be to master language (or the ability to be understood or truly communicate) without all the social context. But, there is so much more that goes with it such as the ability to feel empathy, and create bonds, real relationships. It is this lack of bonds and the resulting persecution from others that leads this Lion to being labeled "cowardly." Some people choose to not enter true relationships with others, fear holds them back. Fortunately our Lion is more like an Asperger's person, who did not choose this condition or his lacking natural reactions. He is capable of learning how to relate, through lots of hard, confusing, real-life experience, giving him one piece of the puzzle at a time. Love the poignant ending. He finally learns how to be a friend, how to truly care about another. Maguire is able to turn well-known children's fantasy upside down as an exercise in perspective and motive because he gives the story a realism that allows us to suspend our disbelief and go along with him on his ride. What an interesting journey -- the dialogue, wry humor, the surprises, and the deep philosophical observations. The Lion is so socially awkward! I can't help but cheer for him as he struggles to connect with his humanity.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

    Ever seen the clip from the old school Hercules movie in which the demi god throws his fists in the air and bellows at the top of his lungs, "Disappointeeeeeed!!!"" .... Upon finishing this book, that is exactly what I did, but I'm a nerdy ginger not a demi god, so the effect may have been less impactful. I adored Wicked, tolerated Son Of A Witch, and despised A Lion Among Men. I kept reading this last book hoping all the while that the everlasting backstory would turn into a decent plot, but my Ever seen the clip from the old school Hercules movie in which the demi god throws his fists in the air and bellows at the top of his lungs, "Disappointeeeeeed!!!"" .... Upon finishing this book, that is exactly what I did, but I'm a nerdy ginger not a demi god, so the effect may have been less impactful. I adored Wicked, tolerated Son Of A Witch, and despised A Lion Among Men. I kept reading this last book hoping all the while that the everlasting backstory would turn into a decent plot, but my wishes were not granted. This book made no sense in context with the Wicked plot line, and was lacking in depth to be a stand alone novel. It failed to resolve the conflict involving Elphaba's death and was weak in addressing any thematic issues in earlier books. I was devastated when this book ended because the series felt so open ended. What of Liir's green child?? What happened to Candle? What was Yackle's significance to Nessarose? What was Madame Morrible's significance to Yackle?? And the biggest one of all.... IS ELPHABA DEAD?? Nothing was resolved. This book seemed more like an excuse to make money than a conclusion to a well written trilogy. McGuire did well in writing Wicked, but in order to retain your sanity, don't proceed with the series. Definitely not worth it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

    Maguire is a fantastic world builder and blew audiences away with Wicked back in 1995. Lion continues in this tradition, but offers no characters that differ greatly from those in Wicked. Maguire has a tendency of making all his characters very similar: Incredibly pessimistic and overly verbose. Often they sound like depressives who have just walked out of a thesaurus. But what is more unfortunate is that Maguire tries to substitute this pessimism for the guiding philosophy of the book. By empha Maguire is a fantastic world builder and blew audiences away with Wicked back in 1995. Lion continues in this tradition, but offers no characters that differ greatly from those in Wicked. Maguire has a tendency of making all his characters very similar: Incredibly pessimistic and overly verbose. Often they sound like depressives who have just walked out of a thesaurus. But what is more unfortunate is that Maguire tries to substitute this pessimism for the guiding philosophy of the book. By emphasizing simply that the worst will happen, he discards the possibility of looking at why something is bad and how it how it happens. This tendency cheapens the insights of what is a otherwise a very talented writer. He continues his themes of the individual versus society, the question of fate, free will and human nature that were prominent in Wicked, but does not offer any new insights or new ways of looking at the question.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Arg! Just finished this last night, and it has the same curse as "Son of a Witch," in that it reveals just so much, but leaves you with so many more questions. I'd really hoped, for the satement of my curiosity, that this would be the last book, in which all is revealed. But, no. Which some day will be magnificent, when we sit down with the many books in this series, a cup of coffee, a warm blanket, and days and days ahead to gorge on this delightful brain candy. For now, I am agonized over the Arg! Just finished this last night, and it has the same curse as "Son of a Witch," in that it reveals just so much, but leaves you with so many more questions. I'd really hoped, for the satement of my curiosity, that this would be the last book, in which all is revealed. But, no. Which some day will be magnificent, when we sit down with the many books in this series, a cup of coffee, a warm blanket, and days and days ahead to gorge on this delightful brain candy. For now, I am agonized over the several years it's likely to take before I get another smidgen of insight into what the freak went on in Oz and beyond. I took away a star because it left me hanging, again. The development is a little slow - less action takes place - most in the present is in one building, over one day. But you get a lot of the backstory from the other two books. And are left really wanting to know more. Here's to Gregory Maguire's swift completion of the *next* book in this series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Faith Reidenbach

    Disenchanted. That's what I am with Gregory Maguire. This book is almost completely backstory; we learn nothing more about Liir and Tristam and Candle and the new arrival. The part of the story that does advance moves only about 3 inches, and it was no mystery who the handmaiden of the clock is anyway. And Yackle's story--if you have to summarize it at the end, it wasn't well delivered. Speaking of the ending, it was ponderous, and Maguire could have done better than use a literal deus ex machin Disenchanted. That's what I am with Gregory Maguire. This book is almost completely backstory; we learn nothing more about Liir and Tristam and Candle and the new arrival. The part of the story that does advance moves only about 3 inches, and it was no mystery who the handmaiden of the clock is anyway. And Yackle's story--if you have to summarize it at the end, it wasn't well delivered. Speaking of the ending, it was ponderous, and Maguire could have done better than use a literal deus ex machina. I did enjoy Brrr. And I'll read the next book because Son of a Witch hooked me. But the loose ends had better start coming together.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cindi (cheesygiraffe)

    It took me ages to get into this book. It's not the best of the series by far. I didn't even Like Brr or Yackle. You do learn a lot more about Yackle though. It is funny in parts too. The ending left room for more books. Eh...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I'll start this out simple; Maguire has yet to equal the writing he exhibited in Wicked. This being said, A Lion Among Men was a much stronger novel than Son of a Witch. I don't get the sense that Maguire's writing abilities have improved since Wicked was published. Fortunately, he created a truly brilliant character back then in the form of Yackle. It is Yackle's presence that gives this novel much of its metaphysical spark and devious humor. She develops a rapport with the lion that is enterta I'll start this out simple; Maguire has yet to equal the writing he exhibited in Wicked. This being said, A Lion Among Men was a much stronger novel than Son of a Witch. I don't get the sense that Maguire's writing abilities have improved since Wicked was published. Fortunately, he created a truly brilliant character back then in the form of Yackle. It is Yackle's presence that gives this novel much of its metaphysical spark and devious humor. She develops a rapport with the lion that is entertaining, biting (no pun intended) and ultimately tender. The chance for more information about Elphaba (a literary character with a following that could fill any Comic-Con panel discussion) doesn't hurt the novel either. I know the promise of this kept me reading when I got frustrated or board (which did happen throughout Brrr's wondering years). I admire that Maguire takes on the challenge of writing a novel from the POV of a character whose life isn't the most exciting nor whose personality is the most inviting. But he was far more successful in doing so with Wicked than its follow-ups.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Morgen

    The third book in Maguire's return to Oz fills in some gaps in the ongoing storyline, and has a few moments, but overall falls short of the entrancing epic of "Wicked." I enjoyed the book, and am glad to have read it, but wouldn't put it in the 'classic' status like "Wicked" or in my "must read again" bookshelf.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    He hadn't yet had enough experience with humans to know that the thing they hold dearest to their hearts, the last thing they relinquish when all else is fading, is the consoling belief in the inferiority of others. Ah...the poor Cowardly Lion (AKA Brrr). He never really had a chance: snatched from his parents as a tiny cub (as seen in Wicked, then thrust back into the forest by well-intentioned Shiz University students too young to really fend for himself. But what happened between then and the He hadn't yet had enough experience with humans to know that the thing they hold dearest to their hearts, the last thing they relinquish when all else is fading, is the consoling belief in the inferiority of others. Ah...the poor Cowardly Lion (AKA Brrr). He never really had a chance: snatched from his parents as a tiny cub (as seen in Wicked, then thrust back into the forest by well-intentioned Shiz University students too young to really fend for himself. But what happened between then and the arrival of Dorothy? And (ignoring Mr. Baum's sequels) what happened to him after Dorothy's departure? Most of this third novel concerns his story and that of old Yackle, a creation of Mr. Maguire, who keeps showing up in this series, framed within their conversation after Brrr is sent (by whom????) to find Yackle and investigate what she knows about Elphaba and her son, Liir. Nothing really happens until the last 50 pages or so. It's all character development, but fails to make me actually care about the characters. Some ends are tied up (or at least reintroduced), but none of it felt satisfying. I'm hoping that something actually happens in the final book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    “Children played at those stories; they dreamed about them. They took them to heart and acted as if to live inside them.” I'm glad I finally made it back to this series, to finish up book 3. I've enjoyed so many of these author's books that it was great to enjoy another. But this one did not hold my attention as much as the previous ones. I loved book one, only liked book 2 and I would put this one as somewhere between just okay and I liked it. I think something about Elphaba's journey really stru “Children played at those stories; they dreamed about them. They took them to heart and acted as if to live inside them.” I'm glad I finally made it back to this series, to finish up book 3. I've enjoyed so many of these author's books that it was great to enjoy another. But this one did not hold my attention as much as the previous ones. I loved book one, only liked book 2 and I would put this one as somewhere between just okay and I liked it. I think something about Elphaba's journey really struck me - unlike her son's story in book 2 and now the cowardly lion's story in book 3. I did like the distraction of the cat, even though I thought I wouldn't, but I didn't feel the magic of OZ like I did before - this all just felt very sad and depressing. If there is a book 4, I will definitely pause before picking it up.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Lukondi

    Re-read this one for the first time in about 10 years, I think. Appreciated it a bit more. Think I rushed through it, initially, and was disappointed that it seemed like a "concept" novel and not so much fantasy as the first two. Yeah, it gets a little wordy here and there, what with the obsession of duty and cowardice (like the previous books' preoccupation with evil and identity) but it's still enjoyable and fills in the story where it needs to. There's resolution with certain storylines, and th Re-read this one for the first time in about 10 years, I think. Appreciated it a bit more. Think I rushed through it, initially, and was disappointed that it seemed like a "concept" novel and not so much fantasy as the first two. Yeah, it gets a little wordy here and there, what with the obsession of duty and cowardice (like the previous books' preoccupation with evil and identity) but it's still enjoyable and fills in the story where it needs to. There's resolution with certain storylines, and the beginnings of other ones that need to unravel, so I need to re-read the fourth book now, which, from what I remember, got *really* weird.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Out of the series so far this was the best one and the one I enjoyed the most. I love the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz and he's my favourite character in the film so I think that's probably why I liked this book so much. I found it was alot easier to read than the other two and was easier to get into because of that. Definitely recommend reading the series even just so you can read this one as it's so good

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Third in the 'Wicked' series, this story of Brrr the Lion fills in gaps in the overall tale, with a sad tone of regret and loss. Like many current regimes, corruption reigns, power-mad 'leaders' use others, and failure is sometimes rewarded to the haplenss. Maguire's analogies to community (the forgetful bears, the wary tigers) and politics take an even darker tone, while the quest for the magical Grimmerie book surprises. I enjoyed the references to the other iterations of Baum's Oz. Yes, it's Third in the 'Wicked' series, this story of Brrr the Lion fills in gaps in the overall tale, with a sad tone of regret and loss. Like many current regimes, corruption reigns, power-mad 'leaders' use others, and failure is sometimes rewarded to the haplenss. Maguire's analogies to community (the forgetful bears, the wary tigers) and politics take an even darker tone, while the quest for the magical Grimmerie book surprises. I enjoyed the references to the other iterations of Baum's Oz. Yes, it's a sad tale, No, it's not 'Wicked.'

  26. 5 out of 5

    Consuela

    The lion is just as annoying as the witch's son.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruby Boyer

    enjoyed this one alot more than the others! looking forward to the ending, but i still find myself so lost in his writing having no idea whats going on and then all of a sudden it clicks!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yael

    Continuing the saga of The Wicked Years, A Lion Among Men is the story of Sir Brrr, a.k.a. the Cowardly Lion of Oz, and his quest to find out his own origins. Also tasked by the throne of Oz with acquiring any information he can find about the late Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West, he comes to the mauntery known as the Cloister of Saint Glinda to interrogate an ancient oracle known as Yackle on what she might know about the dead witch. In return, Yackle wants some ansers of her own, Continuing the saga of The Wicked Years, A Lion Among Men is the story of Sir Brrr, a.k.a. the Cowardly Lion of Oz, and his quest to find out his own origins. Also tasked by the throne of Oz with acquiring any information he can find about the late Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West, he comes to the mauntery known as the Cloister of Saint Glinda to interrogate an ancient oracle known as Yackle on what she might know about the dead witch. In return, Yackle wants some ansers of her own, and in payment for the intelligence which Brrr gains from her, he gives her his own life-story. Abandoned as a small cub, Brrr's memories are at best vague and smeared. His life from toddlerhood in the Great Gillikin Forest, where he had been abandoned or to which he had wandered after being rescued by Elphaba and her lover, Fiyero, from an experiment conducted by the Wizard of Oz, was filled with hardship, disappointment, and terror. Out of repentance for having betrayed the hopes of rescue of a young, dying soldier caught in a Bear-trap, Brrr stumbled through a haunted swamp, was implicated in a massacre of trolls, and fell in love with an emotionally disturbed Leopard princess, which last left him unable ever again to visit her people's part of Oz. Now, in order to avoid a prison sentence -- the oppressive laws against talking Animals are still in force in many parts of Oz -- he has agreed to serve the war-mongering Emperor of Oz, Shell Thropp, younger brother of the late Elphaba. A Lion Among Men describes a battle of wits between Brrr and Yackle made urgent by the approach of the Emerald City's armies. Yackle wants to know the whereabouts of Liir, the son of Elphaba Thropp. Brrr demands Yackle tell him about the prophecies of the Clock of the Time Dragon, and the location of the Grimmerie, the book of Magick that vanished with Elphaba. Brrr's life has been one long parade of cowardice, betrayal, and lethal blunders. Can he take control of his own destiny? Can he even hope to redeem himself? And what of Yackle, the ancient prophetess who, at death's door, has recovered enough to return to the living world to get answers of her own? Who is she, and what is her true purpose in life? In a world gone mad with war-fever, these two survivors contend with each other for knowledge, Brrr, to find some sort of redemption, Yackle, to discover the purpose of her life so that she may fulfill it. A Lion Among Men, like its predecessors, Wicked and Son of a Witch, chronicles the corruption and destruction that has followed in the wake of the late Wizard of Oz, former sovereign of Oz, which have tainted everything he has touched -- and the attempts of those crippled by that taint to seek out hope, forgiveness, and better lives. Gregory Maguire is a superb storyteller. His revisionist, dystopian storybook histories are already considered to be classics, and rightly so. While they will not please purists, especially those who do not want the nakedness of their beloved Oz uncovered, the chronicles of the Wicked Years are among the best novels of a generation.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I have spent years neglecting to finish this series because I had no interest in reading this book. I didn't care about the lion or what he had to say, I just wanted more of Elphaba, Glinda, and Liir. Well, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. While this book doesn't exactly take place in the action of the series until the very end, it actually answers quite a few questions left open from Wicked and Son of a Witch. I'm still not a fan of the Lion, but I'm not really sure I'm suppose to be, either.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cassy

    I have read a lot of Gregory Maguire’s books and some I’ve enjoyed and some have been really terrible. He’s one of those authors that is really hit or miss. Luckily, A Lion Among Men was a hit and one of the first of this series. The first book of Maguire’s that I ever read was Wicked and, while it started out very promising, ended on a more sour note. I had also heard negative reviews about the sequel to Wicked and never ended up reading it. So when I picked this book up, the story of the Coward I have read a lot of Gregory Maguire’s books and some I’ve enjoyed and some have been really terrible. He’s one of those authors that is really hit or miss. Luckily, A Lion Among Men was a hit and one of the first of this series. The first book of Maguire’s that I ever read was Wicked and, while it started out very promising, ended on a more sour note. I had also heard negative reviews about the sequel to Wicked and never ended up reading it. So when I picked this book up, the story of the Cowardly Lion, I did so with a lot of trepidation. It would be the fourth book of his that I read and out of the previous three, I liked one and a half of them. The story of Brr (or the Cowardly Lion as we all know him) was actually everything I was hoping his other retellings would be like. It took a story I knew well and just told me WHY it ended up that way. Brr wasn’t cowardly because he was born that was but more because society and life made him that way. He was taken from him mother at birth and hid in the woods all his life, trying to survive. It wasn’t much better when he was integrated into society. He lived in the world with humans but was always looked upon suspiciously. He was and Animal and therefore he had no rights, no say, no anything because he wasn’t a human being. There was war all around him because of the fight for Animals. When he went and stayed with the Tigers, found someone he liked, possibly even loved, it turns out she might have been using him all along. She didn’t want to rule her people, didn’t want to have to be the one to take her father’s place. And so, by mating with Brr, she made it so that she wouldn’t be able to have children because the two of them were incompatible. He was a lion that took blows like that all of his life until his only option was to do what the state told him. It was ironic that this Animal that had run from everything his entire life, his only option in the end was to not run. He had to meet things head on and get the whole story or he would have no freedom to do anything. The execution of the book was wonderful, just the right pace, which was nice because sometimes Maguire’s pace can drag. I love that he pulled all of Oz’s history and current politics into and added just the right amount of mystery and magic. I recommend this to all who love fairy tales and any who have be doubtful of Maguire’s work in the past; this is easily his best.

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