Fantasy Book Review

The Giant Horse of Oz

by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Series: Oz 22
Reviewed date: 2023 Jul 23
238 pages
cover art

I liked this one, mostly.

Well if it isn't Tattypoo, the Good Witch of the North, dragged out of obscurity by RPT. This book was published prior to the 1939 MGM film which moved Glinda from the South to the North, erasing Tattypoo entirely. The good witch of the North was referenced by Baum several times but this is her first appearance as a character in the Oz books, and it is the first time she is named.

Ozure Isles
The first plot thread involves the Ozure Isles, a hidden kingdom in a hidden lake deep in Munchkin country. The sea monster (well, lake monster) Quiberon that keeps Ozure isolated from the rest of Oz threatens to destroy the Isles unless the inhabitants bring him a mortal girl. The only mortal girls in Oz being Dorothy, Trot, and Betsy, and they residing in the Emerald City, this is quite a problem. King Cheeriobed doesn't know what to do.

Akbad the royal soothsayer takes matters into his own hands. He uses magic to travel out of the Ozure Isles and kidnaps Trot. He also manages to accidentally kidnap the Scarecrow, as well as Benny, a statue-brought-to-life from Boston. They have all sorts of adventures before ending up in the Emerald City.

Prince Philador
Young Prince Philador also takes matters into his own hands and goes off to see if he can get help from beyond the Ozure Isles. He manages to stumble into the cottage of old Tattypoo, the missing Good Witch of the North. Philador picks up a Medicine Man, who literally has a medicine cabinet for a chest. It's remarked that the medicine man is a bit useless, because, nobody ever getting sick in Oz, there is no need for medicine. Anyway. Philador also stops in Up Town, meets their King, Joe (Joe King, ha!) and gets the use of Joe King's horse, High Boy. This is the titular Giant Horse of Oz, because High Boy has telescoping legs that can stretch for hundreds of feet. Very helpful for traversing tall hills, stepping over walls, wading through deep water.

Everyone ends up at the Emerald City, and with various magic all is put to right. Tattypoo shows up; she is the missing Queen Orin of the Ozure Isles, having been transformed by Mombi many years ago. That is not a surprise; I saw it coming for half the book.

Overall not a bad read, but not compelling either. I liked the idea of bringing back the Good Witch of the North, but I didn't like transforming her into Queen Orin. Bring her back just to get rid of her? No thanks. And I didn't like that, once again, the answer to everything is to arrive at the Emerald City and have some magic put everything to right. Where is the sense of struggle? Where is the satisfaction at seeing the characters arriving at a clever solution to their problem? Never mind all that, just throw some magic to resolve everything.

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