The Magic of Oz is the thirteenth book in L. Frank Baum's series of Oz books. It's subtitle is A Faithful Record of the Remarkable Adventures of Dorothy and Trot and the Wizard of Oz, Together with the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, and Cap'n Bill, in Their Successful Search for a Magical and Beautiful Birthday Present for Princess Ozma of Oz
The book was published on 7 June 1919, a month and a day after the author's death.
The Hyups are a small community living at the top of Mount Munch in the Munchkin Country. A Hyup named Bini Aru discovered a means of transforming people and objects, by speaking (and correctly pronouncing) the word Pyrzqxgl. Once Princess Ozma placed controls on the practice of magic, Bini Aru wrote down his method and hid the account in his laboratory — where it was eventually discovered by his son Kiki Aru.
Longing for adventure, the boy transforms himself into a hawk and flies beyond the boundaries of Oz. In Ev, he learns that he needs money for food and lodging at an inn (unlike Oz, where money is not used). He becomes a magpie and steals a gold coin. When he is human again, a sparrow confronts him over his theft; Kiki says that he didn't know evil before, but is glad he does now.
This is overheard by Ruggedo, the former Nome King, who wanders the earth after being defeated by Ozma and her supporters in Tik-Tok of Oz. The two fall in together; Kiki changes them into birds to fly across the Deadly Desert. They enter Oz as animals, to evade the notice of the Great Book of Records. In the Forest of Gugu in the Gillikin Country, Kiki transforms himself and Ruggedo into "Li-Mon-Eags," Chimera-like creatures with the heads of lions, bodies of monkeys, and wings of eagles. They spread suspicion among the animals, by telling them that the people of the Emerald City plan to conquer the Forest. The conspirators tell the animals that they will help defeat this alleged conquest, by turning the animals into human form so that they can forestall the invasion of the Forest with a pre-emptive strike of their own.
Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion, and the Hungry Tiger arrive in the Forest, looking for monkeys to train for Ozma's approaching birthday party. Ruggedo recognizes his old enemies; a panicked Kiki starts transforming people and animals left and right. The Wizard becomes a fox, Dorothy a lamb; the Cowardly Lion is a little Munchkin boy, the Hungry Tiger a rabbit. And Ruggedo is now a goose.
Kiki, in Li-Mon-Eag form, escapes with the Wizard's black bag; but the foxy Wizard follows him, spies on him, and learns the correct pronunciation of Pyrzqxgl. The Wizard changes Kiki and Ruggedo into a walnut and a hickory nut, inactivating them; he restores all the transformed beings to their proper shapes.
Meanwhile, Trot and Cap'n Bill have travelled to a magic island to obtain a special flower for Ozma's birthday. They have a confrontation with a kalidah, and meet the Lonesome Duck. The island is dangerous: Trot and the Cap'n are magically rooted to the ground, and begin shrinking away to nothing. The Wizard manages to rescue them by turning them into honeybees. When human again, the Cap'n straps a board to his meat leg, and with that and his peg leg he walks over the island with impunity, and retrieves the magic flower.
Back in the Emerald City, Ozma's birthday celebration is a success. Kiki Aru and Ruggedo are transformed from nuts back into their natural forms. They are coerced (with magically-imposed thirst) into drinking from the Forbidden Fountain, and lose their memories and evil intentions.
- Bini Aru
- Mopsi Aru
- Kiki Aru
- Princess Ozma
- Wizard of Oz
- Dorothy Gale
- Cap'n Bill
- Glass Cat
- Dr. Pipt
- Patchwork Girl
- Tin Woodman
- Cowardly Lion
- Hungry Tiger
- Gugu the leopard king
- Gugu's Counselors
- Residents of the Forest of Gugu
- Lonesome Duck
- Betsy Bobbin
- Aunt Em
- Uncle Henry
- Shaggy Man
- Captain Fyter
- Shaggy Man's Brother
- Jack Pumpkinhead
In this book, Gugu the leopard king has three counselors who advise him. The idea of an animal king assisted by a trio of counselors was previously employed by Baum in his story "The Pea-Green Poodle," one of the Animal Fairy Tales.
The influence of World War I is obvious in the book. Baum dedicated it to "the children of our Soldiers, the Americans and their Allies, with unmeasured Pride and Affection." In his prefatory note "To My Readers," Baum states that "in the events which have taken place in the last few years in our 'great outside world,' we may find incidents so marvelous and inspiring that I cannot hope to equal them with stories of the Land of Oz."
When Kiki is in the Forest of Gugu, he transforms monkeys into soldiers; illustrator Neill depicts them in American uniforms. The soldiers are giants, so large that they cannot move among the trees. (The Wizard restores them to monkeys later.)
The upsurge in sales that had greeted the previous Oz book, The Tin Woodman of Oz, in 1918 also affected its successor: The Magic of Oz sold 26,000 copies in its first year on the market. The Oz books overall sold almost twice as many copies in 1919 as in 1918, and 1918 had been an exceptionally good year. The high sales were most likely influenced by Baum's death earlier in the year.
The 1970 short story "The Believing Child" by Zenna Henderson involves a little girl learning how to pronounce Pyrzqxgl and using it the two class bullies.
- Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
|L. Frank Baum's original Oz books|