King Randy of Regalia is frustrated and bored with the endless ceremony of his royal routine. When his old friend Kabumpo the Elegant Elephant arrives for a visit, the two quickly decide on an excursion through the countryside. After odd encounters in Gaper Gulch and the Headlands, they are blown across the Deadly Desert in a ferocious storm. (Kabumpo's raingear acts as a sail in the storm, and a parachute upon landing.) They land in Ix, and head toward Ev to visit their old friend Jinnicky the Red Jinn.
On their way, they encounter two extraordinary creatures (even for Oz) — Planetty the Princess from Anuther Planet, and her Thundercolt Thun. The same storm that brought Randy and Kabumpo across the Desert allowed Thun to carry his mistress down a thunderbolt to Earth. Both girl and horse are made of living metal; she is silver, and he is black. Thun cannot hear or speak, though he can communicate by blowing red smoke writing out of his nostrils. He moves silently and incredibly fast.
Randy quickly falls in love with the beautiful, fey, charming Planetty. A problem arises, however: life on Anuther Planet operates on a wholly different principle from Earthly life. Planetty and Thun do not eat; they sustain themselves by bathing once each week in pools of vanadium on their native planet. Without this treatment, they will stiffen to immobility. Randy and Kabumpo now have a stronger motive for visiting Jinnicky; they hope that his powerful magic will be able to help the "Nuthers" avoid this paralysis.
The quartet make their way through more odd environments and beings, to Ev and the shore of the Nonestic Ocean. Planetty is amazed at the color and variety of Earth; her "greyling" home world is profoundly deficient in such features. Arriving at Jinnicky's red glass castle, though, they are attacked by the Jinn's guards and attendants. They foil the attack, thanks largely to Planetty's staff, which paralyzes anyone it strikes. The travelers learn that Jinnicky has been ousted by a rebellious servant, Gludwig the Glubrious. They confront Gludwig, but fall through a trapdoor into the castle basement. While there, they luckily free Jinnicky's servant Ginger from magic imprisonment in a drum; but Planetty and Thun become immobilized, due to lack of a vanadium immersion.
Meanwhile, a poor fisherman from Nonagon Isle dredges up a large red jar from the sea. He brings it home to his nine-sided shack, planning to use it to salt his fish. But after sitting by the fire for a while, the jar pops open to reveal Jinnicky. The Jinn had sealed himself in his jar before Gludwig hurled him into the ocean, and the fire's heat has now melted the seal. Jinnicky is glad to be off the sea floor — but Bloff the fisherman still wants the jar. In their contention, Jinnicky's silver dinner bell drops from his sleeve, and the Jinn's servant Ginger answers its ring. This is enough to frighten Bloff away.
Jinnicky uses Ginger's powerful magic to bring Kabumpo and friends to Nonagon Isle, and then to take them all back to Ev. Gludwig tries to use Planetty's staff against them, but Randy proves impervious to it; he is carrying some of Jinnicky's magic potions that he picked up from the basement. Gludwig is overcome, and order is restored to Jinnicky's establishment.
Jinnicky is able to re-animate Planetty and Thun; but to do so he almost has to remake them. They are no longer metallic, and now need to eat like Earthly beings. Thun is delighted to find that he can now hear and talk, yet still race silently through the world. Planetty is pleased too, since now she can stay on Earth with Randy, and become his queen of Regalia.
The first edition of the book featured metallic silver ink on the cover and dust jacket. Reilly & Lee had last used such metallic ink for The Emerald City of Oz and The Sea Fairies, nearly three decades previously.
In this book, Thompson employs the imaginative verbiage that is typical of her prose, with the usual, fantastic, nonsensical endearments and epithets. "Punjanoobious" is a good thing, but to be a "scuppernong" is not. To be "debodicated" is the same as being beheaded, seen from the opposite perspective.
Planetty, in particular, has her own style of speech. Most of her odd words are easily comprehensible: "nite" is nice, and "netiful" is beautiful; "ret" is rest, and "earling" is early. A few are more esoteric, like "sonestor" for a week; and a couple, "voral" and "zorodell," are opaque.
Time and aging
People in Oz do not age...except sometimes. Wanting to age seems a key factor. In Chapter 2 of this book, Randy states that he was ten years old in his first adventure, in The Purple Prince of Oz, and is sixteen at the time of the second book (which were in fact separated by six years). Yet Randy also says that he was ten years old for about four years.
Thompson is fairly consistent, though not perfect, in maintaining such correspondence between real-wold durations and Oz time in her books. (This encourages the fans who have developed extensive and involved Oz chronologies.)
The Silver Princess in Oz shows the influence of earlier Oz books, and in turn it influences one later one in particular.
In Chapter 11 of Silver Princess, The travelers pass through a field of large feathers. The feathers tickle the non-metallic members of the party, and Randy and Kabumpo are overcome and in danger of being tickled to death. Thun the Thundercolt and Planetty use Thun's great strength to drag the two out of danger. This incident resembles the poppy field episode in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chapter 8, in which Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion pass out and must be saved by the non-biological members of their quartet.
In the opening scene of Silver Princess, Randy is so oppressed by his duties that once the royal audience is over he throws his cloak on the floor. He resembles the King of Bunnybury in The Emerald City of Oz, Chapter 20, who, in a similar state of mind, tosses his crown in a corner and kicks his ermine robe under a table.
In the opposite direction, Jeff Freedman uses Randy, Planetty, and Thun in his 1994 Oz novel The Magic Dishpan of Oz.
|Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books|