The Nome King, Roquat the Red, makes plans to dig a tunnel under the Deadly Desert into the Land of Oz where he will take back his Magic Belt from Princess Ozma. His General Guph tours the neighboring lands rounding up allies, including the comical Whimsies, the strong and brutal Growleywogs, and the powerfully magical Phanfasms.
Meanwhile, Dorothy Gale brings her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry to Oz to live (their Kansas farm having been foreclosed). They tour Oz in Ozma's Red Wagon and meet various intriguing people like Miss Cuttenclip and the Fuddles. Dorothy becomes lost one morning and visits Utensia, Bunbury, and Bunnybury before the Wizard finds her again.
They visit the Tin Woodman at his Tin Palace and he tells them that Ozma has learned of the Nome King's plan through her Magic Picture. They head for the Emerald City picking up the Scarecrow and Jack Pumpkinhead on the way.
- The Nome King, Roquat the Red
- General Blug
- Dorothy Gale and Toto
- Uncle Henry and Aunt Em
- Princess Ozma
- General Guph
- The Chief of the Whimsies
- The Grand Gallipoot of the Growleywogs
- Omby Amby
- The Wizard of Oz
- The Shaggy Man
- The Sawhorse
- Miss Cuttenclip
- The First and Foremost of the Phanfasms
- The Kangaroo and the Fuddles
- The Zebra and the Crab
- The citizens of Utensia, Bunbury, and Bunnybury
- The Rigmaroles and Flutterbudgets
- The Tin Woodman, Scarecrow, and Jack Pumpkinhead
- How the Nome King Became Angry
- How Uncle Henry Got Into Trouble
- How Ozma Granted Dorothy's Request
- How The Nome King Planned Revenge
- How Dorothy Became a Princess
- How Guph Visited the Whimsies
- How Aunt Em Conquered the Lion
- How the Grand Gallipoot Joined The Nomes
- How the Wogglebug Taught Athletics
- How the Cuttenclips Lived
- How the General Met the First and Foremost
- How they Matched the Fuddles
- How the General Talked to the King
- How the Wizard Practiced Sorcery
- How Dorothy Happened to Get Lost
- How Dorothy Visited Utensia
- How They Came to Bunbury
- How Ozma Looked into the Magic Picture
- How Bunnybury Welcomed the Strangers
- How Dorothy Lunched With a King
- How the King Changed His Mind
- How the Wizard Found Dorothy
- How They Encountered the Flutterbudgets
- How the Tin Woodman Told the Sad News
- How the Scarecrow Displayed His Wisdom
- How Ozma Refused to Fight for Her Kingdom
- How the Fierce Warriors Invaded Oz
- How They Drank at the Forbidden Fountain
- How Glinda Worked a Magic Spell
- How the Story of Oz Came to an End
In the book's first edition, Neill's sixteen color plate illustrations, plus the cover art, were distinguished by the use of emerald-green metallic ink, which gives a shining, shimmering effect. Reilly & Britton was experimenting with metallic inks at the time; the first edition of Baum's The Sea Fairies, published the next year, also had metallic ink borders on its color plates. Later printings of Emerald City dropped the use of the expensive ink, however, leaving white spaces instead. In one case this resulted in a material change in the book. Neill's color plate for Chapter 22 featured a border of text around the image. The text is nonsense:
- SOANDSO, AND SOANDSO, OH YES, I DON'T KNOW IT MIGHT BE SO BUT I DON'T KNOW, INTRE MINTRY CUTEYCORN APPLESEEDS AND FLYAWAY JACK... etc.
These seem to be the words of Neill rather than Baum. When metallic ink was dropped from later printings of the book, the text border to the illustration disappeared.
Books of Wonder has published a modern facsimile of the first edition that employs the metallic ink of the original.
While he was writing The Emerald City of Oz, L. Frank Baum moved to Hollywood where he worked on the silent film version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Baum actually intended to end the series with this book; the final chapter is titled "How the Story of Oz Came to an End." At least one contemporary reviewer was skeptical about Baum's termination of the series; a writer in the Portland Telegram said succinctly of Oz, "the children want it. The only graceful way Baum can quit telling tales of Oz is to die." Eventually, the Telegram was proved correct: public demand persuaded Baum to resume the Oz series and he would continue to do so up until his death.
As with other Oz books of this era its original edition was published by Reilly & Britton of Chicago. It long stayed in print with the successor firm of Reilly & Lee.
In recent years (especially since it entered the public domain) it has been reprinted by a number of firms (and the text is available on the World Wide Web).
- This is the only Oz book in which all chapters begin with "How"
- With 30 chapters, it has more chapters than every other Oz book
|L. Frank Baum's original Oz books|