Okay, I'm getting tired of it now. If 'A Lion Among Men' were the second book in "The Wicked Years," I would have probably liked it as much as I liked the actual second book in "The Wicked Years." It's a similar formula: take a not-terribly-sympathetic minor character and flesh him out in context. It's the Cowardly Lion's backstory this time. We saw Brrr (did Baum name him that?) in a couple of brief cameos in Wicked, and now it's an illumination of the life lived in between being a motherless cub and a surprised, chucked-aside adult member of the Dorothy team, as well as some events after. More engagingly, Maguire also fleshes out several of the bizarre bit players that have been circling the margins of the story till now.
And really, more of this and less of that, please. It starts off well, with a heretofore rare Yackle point of view, a scene from the scarred eyes of the old bat that's been pestering the characters with prophetic catcalls for a couple of books now. She demands her fellow nuns to lower her into the crypt, to hasten the end of the burden of her life and sweep her out after a year. The suicide is a near-comical, near-chilling failure. Deliciously macabre, ("wicked"), which is not my go-to place for entertainment, but a hell of an entrance in this case. The other secondary characters are almost this good too, but soon enough we're with the Lion again, and his personal history gets the, ....Lion's share of print. Some new folds in the character are revealed, and it wasn't badly done, but it more colored in the outline of his character than expanded it. And it costs us readers 200 pages of retreading old backstory, even while the author is telegraphing a larger plot and doing nothing about it. Now that these Oz books are a committed series instead of an entertainingly revisionist standalone, now that it's a story arc in other words, there's an entirely different pacing at play. Or maybe it was all fine, and it was just too soon to get back in.
The history of the Cowardly Cub picks up after his escape from the University lab, and he finds himself in the wilderness, subsisting without meat, and, Frankenstein-like, without language. He picks up the art of words by spying on humans, and boy, he's quick with that. The author isn't about to let inexperience get in the way of a few good puns or a little witty banter. Like Shelley's creature, or like old Quasimodo, the young Lion craves acceptance, and commits love straightaway, which, due to his disconnectedness from the world, has brutish results. Neither does he fit in with Oz's disenfranchised talking Animals, and his life flits between the spheres, from an uncomfortable society Animal, to an uncomfortable outcast. Poor Brrr isn't quite as likable as he might be. He has a tendency for vanity, self-absorption and conflict-avoidance, but it's clear they'd have only ever been venial sins were he not pushed around by circumstances. The tragedies aren't so much that people suffer for his failures to act, but rather that he keeps ending up in situations where his inaction matters. A hard thing to illustrate.
Which of the following is not used by the author as a justification or reason why the novel 'A lion among men' becomes boring or less interesting for him?
a) The fact that the books of the "The Wicked Years" fall into a series which is maintained in a committed fashion instead of creating something entirely new.
b) The author builds a larger plot which could have been developed well instead of the lion "Brr's" backstory.
c) The new aspects in the personal history of the lion do not add anything significant to the depth of the lion's character.
d) The lion "Brr.." is a character with brief cameos in earlier novels, who has been made the "major character" in the present novel.
All of the following can be inferred from the passage
1. Brr feels like an outcast basically due to his being a motherless cub.
2. People do not suffer when Brr fails to act, but at the same time Brr keeps ending up in situations where his actions have adverse consequences.
3. The lion receives exaggerated importance to the detriment of secondary characters.
4. Brr's tendency for vanity, self-absorption and conflict avoidance would not have been a sin had he not been pushed around by circumstances.
a) 1 and 2
b) 2 and 3
c) 1 and 3
d) 1, 3 and 4
Which of the following is NOT a part of the story in the novel "A lion among men" according to the author?
a) A suicide attempt which gives a gruesome yet humorous feel.
b) Humour brought out in spite of constraints.
c) A readily likeable protagonist who evokes immediate sympathy due to his being an outcast.
d) A protagonist who is surprisingly quick to acquire linguistic skills despite his circumstances.