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The Emerald City of Oz

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Written by  L. Frank Baum
Illustrator  John R. Neill
Published  1910
Publisher  Reilly & Britton

The Emerald City of Oz is the sixth book in L. Frank Baum's Oz book series. It was illustrated by John R. Neill.

Plot Summary

IMG 20140705 072948

The Emerald City of Oz Marvel Comic version.

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 action climaxes at the Forbidden Fountain in the Emerald City, where all the enemies drink of the Water of Oblivion and are sent home by the Magic Belt.


The illustrations

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:


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.

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).

External links

Click here to read The Emerald City of Oz in its entirety.

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