Tik-Tok of Oz

by L. Frank Baum
Series: Oz 8
Reviewed date: 2018 Apr 25
256 pages
cover art

In which Betsy Bobbin and Hank the Mule are shipwrecked on the coast of Oz, meet up with the invading army of Queen Anne of Oogaboo, and help the Shaggy Man rescue his brother from the evil Nome King.

There are a couple of things wrong with that back cover blurb. The first being that Oz is surrounded on all sides by a deadly desert, and so there is no coast upon which Betsy and Hank could be shipwrecked. The second is that it fails to mention Tik-Tok, whom one might expect to be a major character in a book called Tik-Tok of Oz.

Betsy Bobbin and Hank the Mule were shipwrecked, but not in Oz. The rest of the blurb is fairly accurate. Tik-Tok is a minor character at best, and not important to the book. I very much enjoyed Tik-Tok the mechanical man when he was introduced in Ozma of Oz. He was intriguing despite his character being a bit flat, given his nature as a mechanical man. I was hoping this book would expand on his character and make him interesting. Perhaps his clockwork nature would give him insights that the fairy rulers of Oz lack. But alas, no. The party finds Tik-Tok at the bottom of a well, where the Nome King had discarded him. The wind him up, give him a position as the private in Queen Anne's army, and that's pretty much it. He disappears from the story soon after, and we don't see him again until the final pages.

Speaking of Queen Anne's army of Oogaboo, it's a recycled idea: the army is composed entirely of officers, except for one private. That is a clever idea, but Baum has used it before, so it's not as much fun this time.

I never was fond of the Shaggy Man, because the idea of a Love Magnet seems like cheating to me. How much danger is there really if the Shaggy Man is around?

Ruggedo the Nome King is a great villain, but Betsy and the Shaggy Man and their gang don't actually do much to defeat the Nome King, though. When they get close to the Nome King's lair, the king drops them down a pit that leads to the other side of the world. That irritates the magician Tititi-hoochoo, who sends the dragon Quox to dispatch the Nome King. The dragon banishes Ruggedo from his nome caverns, and his chamberlain Kaliko becomes king of the nomes. Kaliko is much nicer than Ruggedo, and releases Shaggy's brother. Then Ozma, who has been watching everything in her magic picture, whisks everyone away to Oz where they live happily ever after.

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