Literature / Queen Zixi of Ix

Queen Zixi of Ix, or the Story of the Magic Cloak is a book written by L. Frank Baum in 1904. While the book itself doesn't take place in or mention Oz, various characters and references to Ix show up in later books of the series.

One night, Queen Lulea of the fairies decides to have some fun with the mortals by creating a magic cloak that, when worn, will grant its wearer any wish, but only one wish. In addition, the cloak will not grant wishes if it is stolen from its owner. One of the fairies is volunteered to give the cloak to the first unhappy person met in the real world.

That person is a girl named Margaret, called Fluff by her brother Timothy (who is called Bud), who have lost their parents and are now abused by their Aunt Rivette. While moving to Nole, capital city of Noland, Bud is unexpectedly crowned king, due to a rule proclaiming the 47th person to enter the city gates to be crowned king in the event of a Succession Crisis.

Once Bud and Fluff enter the palace, the magic cloak trades hands several times, granting wishes to the people of the court who aren't aware of its power. News of the magic cloak reaches Queen Zixi of Ix, a 600-year-old witch-queen who appears as a 16-year-old to all but a mirror, and wishes nothing more than to be able to see her beautiful reflection. Thus, she prepares to take the cloak by any means necessary.

Though overshadowed by the immense popularity of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it is widely considered, even by L. Frank Baum himself, to be among the best books ever written by him.

This book provides examples of:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Mostly averted; though everyone who makes a foolish wish is surprised at first, most of them come to enjoy the outcome. Played straight with Jikki, who is unable to decide what jobs to assign his six servants, who can only serve him.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: In the end, when Queen Zixi reveals her past schemes to steal the cloak, Bud and Fluff tell her that they would have been willing to let her borrow the cloak and make her one wish, so she had no need to resort to theft. However, this incident convinces the fairies who made the cloak that humanity is no longer worthy of such a gift, and they take it back—so Zixi still never gets to have her wish granted.
  • The Film of the Book: The story spawned a 1914 silent movie, The Magic Cloak of Oz.
  • Freakiness Shame: Played with. Aunt Rivette is initially horrified by having wings, but comes to love the attention she attracts. Tollydob is also concerned about his massive height, but he quickly enjoys the fear it brings to others.
  • It Amused Me: The reason the fairies make their magical gifts, including the magic cloak, is because they get bored from dancing and need something else to amuse themselves.
  • Judgment of Solomon: Two women come to King Bud, both claiming to own a single cow. At the suggestion of his sister, Bud lets each of them try milking the cow, and the one who successfully milks the cow is declared the owner. Subverted, however, when it is then revealed that it was the other woman's cow all along, and was just bad with animals.
  • Large and in Charge: Tollydob, the lord high general, has his wish to be 10 feet tall accidentally granted (leading Bud to dub him the lord very high general).
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: In Queen Zixi of Ix, Queen Zixi can only make herself look beautiful to others because of this trope. Her reflection shows her true age, which is considerable.
  • The Napoleon: Tollydob starts off short and sensitive about his height. This quickly changes, though.
  • Offered the Crown: In Queen Zixi of Ix, Bud is offered the crown after the king dies and the laws decree that the forty-seventh person to pass through Nole's eastern gate at sunrise is the new monarch.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Bud and Fluff, before becoming monarchs.
  • The Pollyanna: Fluff uses her wish to become one.
  • Rags to Royalty: Bud and Fluff go from orphans to monarchs in seconds.
  • The Good Chancellor: All five of the chancellors think of nothing but the good of the kingdom, and always remain loyal and patient towards their child monarch.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Queen Zixi of Ix, 683 years old, uses witchcraft to appear 16.
  • Rubber Man: Tellydeb wishes he could reach a distant apple, and thus he becomes a limited version of this.
  • Succession Crisis: The king dies without an heir, which starts off the plot in Noland.
  • Talking Animal: Ruffles, after Tallydab makes his wish.
  • Tragic Dream: The three creatures Zixi meets after stealing the cloak all have one. Fortunately, when she meets them again, they've all accepted the impossibility of their dreams and moved on.
  • Vain Sorceress: Queen Zixi of Ix is a powerful monarch whose sole desire is to appreciate her beauty in a mirror.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Aunt Rivette. Though she isn't wicked by nature, she is easily impatient, only knows how to punish children physically, and looks ugly. Once the children are no longer in her care, she becomes a dependable ally.
  • Winged Humanoid: Aunt Rivette, after wishing she could fly, sprouts two feathery wings from her back.
  • Zillion-Dollar Bill: Tillydib wishes for a bag of money that never runs out. Interestingly, when the fairies revoke the poorly-made wishes at the end, this is one of the wishes that is kept intact.