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Literature / Glinda of Oz

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Glinda of Oz is the fourteenth book in the Land of Oz series. Published in 1920, it was the last Oz book written by L. Frank Baum before his death.

Princesses Dorothy and Ozma learn of a looming war in a remote region of Oz near the edge of Gillikin Country between two rival tribes, the Skeezers and the Flatheads. Being the ruler of Oz, Ozma decides to visit the two tribes and mitigate the quarrel. They first travel to meet the Flatheads, who live on top of a mountain and are ruled by a Supreme Dictator (Su-Dic). Being unable to talk him out of going to war, Dorothy and Ozma escape his clutches and travel to glass-domed island city of the Skeezers, where they meet that tribe's ruler Queen Coo-ee-oh, a vain narcissist who is determined to fight the war as well. Dorothy and Ozma are imprisoned by the Queen, and then trapped when she sinks the island and then is turned to a swan by the Flatheads, leaving it up to sorceress Glinda the Good and Dorothy's other friends to rescue them.

Being Baum's last Oz book, Glinda of Oz is a bit different from its predecessors. It depicts a slightly more technologically advanced Oz and has some darker themes than in previous books.

Glinda of Oz provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Ozma repeatedly refers to Dorothy as "Dorothy Dear".
  • And I Must Scream: People don't age or die in Oz. Yet, a paragraph in Glinda Of Oz goes into depth on what horrible things enemies could do to Dorothy if they so wish. She could be cut into pieces and scattered about, though she wouldn't feel any pain. She could also be buried alive.
  • Briar Patching: How Ervic the Skeezer gets Reera to return the Adepts to human form.
  • The Cavalry: Ozma and Dorothy end up trapped in the Skeezers' sunken city, and have to be rescued by Glinda and the rest of their friends.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Even before actually leaving on the trip, Dorothy is bemoaning the fact she and Ozma only got involved in this mess because she idly read Glinda's magic record book and thus learned about the impending Flathead/Skeezer war.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The heroes effortlessly deal with Su-Dic after solving the problems with the Skeezer city.
  • Darker and Edgier:The book features some morbid elements, such as talking skeletons as well as evil magic involving pickled critters and books written with blood. Many attribute it to L. Frank Baum being close to death.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Coo-ee-oh's former spear-carrier Ervic gets a chapter detailing his encounter with Reera.
  • Descriptively-Named Species: The Flatheads do indeed have flat heads, each of them carrying their brain around in a sealed can, which can be stolen and used to boost the thief's intelligence. At the end of the novel, Glinda magically seals up everyone's brain inside their head, and the Flatheads change their name to Mountaineers.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: It's often analyzed as a Coming of Age Story. The talking animals and living objects of previous books are put aside, with Dorothy and Ozma instead going off into the dangerous world on their own. They find that they can't solve the issue by themselves, so they ask an older woman for help.
  • Domed Hometown: The island of the Skeezers is covered by a glass dome, and can be submerged in or raised above the surface of the lake with a spell known only to the queen.
  • Evil vs. Evil: After meeting Su-Dic, Dorothy thinks that the leader of the Skeezers must be the good guy in this particular conflict. It turns out she really isn't. Both are replaced by the end of the story.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • The war began over a dispute involving fishing. The Skeezers transformed the Flatheads' Supreme Dictator's wife into a golden pig.
    • Queen Coo-ee-oh learned her magic from the three Adepts, but betrayed them by turning them into fishes.
    • The Su-Dic turns Coo-ee-oh into a swan. She never gets turned back. Turns out she's happier as a swan though.
  • Giant Spider: Dorothy and Ozma encounter a colony of these en route to the main action, and Reera keeps some relatively smaller ones as pets. (Or at least they're spiders now..}
  • Grand Finale: It probably wasn't particularly intended as one, but when Glinda rides to the rescue, she collects a whole bunch of characters from the various previous Oz novels to assist her.
  • Insufferable Genius: Coo-ee-oh is impossibly vain, but the heroes admit that she really was a clever constructor of magical machinery.
  • Invisible Wall: The Flatheads have one blocking the entrance to their mountain, with just a small gap at one end.
  • The Load: Button Bright gets lost one last time, forcing the rescue expedition to waste a chapter saving him.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Coo-ee-oh instantly loses all interest in her former life once she's turned into a swan.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Both the Skeezers and the Flatheads only serve their rulers out of fear, and immediately surrender and cooperate with the heroes when said individuals are deposed.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: It's noted that Ozma's fairy magic is very different than the alchemy and mechanical magic that both sides of the conflict learned/stole off the Adepts, which is why she can't raise the sunken city.
  • Never Say "Die": It is mentioned that Dorothy could be "destroyed" by evil magicians if she wasn't magically protected well enough. This is noted after a paragraph on various horrible Fates Worse Than Death that can occur to her.
  • The Power of Blood: Queen Coo-ee-oh has a shelf of books written in blood.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • The story starts with Princesses (in name alone) Ozma and Dorothy arriving at Glinda's to talk. Ozma and Glinda discuss how they could improve the lives of their citizens even more, though Dorothy has no interest in politics. Instead, she goes to the Great Book and learns about the impending war, triggering the plot.
    • And whatever her other faults, Coo-ee-oh personally designed her city's mechanisms and leads her forces into battle.
  • Secondary Character Title: Glinda is at least present from the beginning of the book, but the true main protagonists are Dorothy and Ozma.
  • Silly Reason for War: At first it seems the Flatheads and Skeezers are going to war over the right to fish in the Skeezer's lake. However, it is revealed later that there is a deeper reason that makes the war not as silly as it seems on the surface.
  • Solitary Sorceress: Reera the Red mostly just wants to be left alone.
  • Take a Third Option: The rescue expedition finally gains entrance to the Skeezer city by magically lowering the water of the lake enough that part of the dome is exposed.
  • Underwater City: The Skeezer's city can become one temporarily, but no one can enter or leave the city once submerged.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Reera the Red, using a magic powder, changes both her own shape and the shape of her various pets.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Reera conveniently happens to be living in her solitary cottage near the Skeezer city, and appears in one chapter just long enough to return the Adepts to their human form, before telling them and Ervic to bug off and leave her alone. Also the spiders and mist maidens that Dorothy and Ozma encounter on their way to the Flatheads and Skeezers. (It's explicitly noted that the rescue party takes a different route, avoiding both.)
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Dorothy is a very friendly princess that makes most of everyone in Oz feel like she's their personal friend.