"Hardly more than a kitten . . . I had thought to call it Prrr, but it shivers more often than it purrs, so I call it Brrr instead."
Since Wicked was first published in 1995, millions of readers have discovered Gregory Maguire's fantastically encyclopedic Oz, a world filled with characters both familiar and new, darkly conceived and daringly reimagined. In the much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion—the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in Wicked.
While civil war looms in Oz, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, an enigmatic figure known as Brrr—the Cowardly Lion—arrives searching for information about Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West. As payment, Yackle, who hovered on the sidelines of Elphaba's life, demands some answers of her own.
Brrr surrenders his story to the ailing maunt: Abandoned as a cub, his earliest memories are gluey hazes, and his path from infancy in the Great Gillikin Forest is no Yellow Brick Road. Seeking to redress an early mistake, he trudges through a swamp of ghosts, becomes implicated in a massacre of trolls, and falls in love with a forbidding Cat princess. In the wake of laws that oppress talking Animals, he avoids a jail sentence by agreeing to serve as a lackey to the war-mongering Emperor of Oz.
A Lion Among Men chronicles a battle of wits hastened by the Emerald City's approaching armies. What does the Lion know of the whereabouts of the Witch's boy, Liir? What can Yackle reveal about the auguries of the Clock of the Time Dragon? And what of the Grimmerie, the magic book that vanished as quickly as Elphaba? Is destiny ever arbitrary? Can those tarnished by infamy escape their sobriquets—cowardly, wicked, brainless, criminally earnest—to claim their own histories, to live honorably within their own skins before they're skinned alive?
At once a portrait of a would-be survivor and a panoramic glimpse of a world gone shrill with war fever, Gregory Maguire's new novel is written with the sympathy and power that have made his books contemporary classics.
A New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Denver Post, and USA Today bestseller
“Maguire’s work is melodic, symphonic and beautiful; it is dejected and biting and brave. . . . In fabulous details and self-mocking language, Maguire displays his gift for whimsical portrayals of the broken, the powerless, the hopeless, the bad.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Much to savor, laugh at, and think about. . . . A page-turning fantasy and a timely political allegory.”
“Entertaining....The author mixes some relatively weighty existential themes—the search for self, faith, redemption—into his whimsical story line. [A] darkly enchanting saga”
“This Oz goes far beyond L. Frank Baum’s; it’s as surreal as a dream, but as immaculately and impeccably detailed as history. Maguire’s wizardlike grasp over every aspect of this reinvented land rivals classic literary landscapes like Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.”
-Albany Times Union
“So well-crafted that readers of all ages could enjoy witnessing Brrrr’s transformation from an insecure kitten in the woods to a compassionate, engaged ‘manimal.’”
-Christian Science Monitor
“The third book in Maguire’s Wicked Years is at once funny, charming, harrowing, bleak and incredibly beautiful.”
-The American Chronicle
“Engrossing...Maguire is a masterful storyteller with an uncanny flair for mixing political and personal while exploring what it means—and what it costs—to be accepted in a society.”
-New York Daily News
“As usual, Maguire, a seasoned fabulist, populates his version of Oz with a cast of utterly fantastical characters who must face their own inner demons while tumult and uncertainty rages around them. An absolute must-read for fans of this ever-evolving dark fairy tale.”
“The minute you open A Lion Among Men, you’re back in Maguire’s exquisitely detailed environment, caught up once again in his geography, his characters, his worldview, touched anew by the loneliness that lurks in the heart of all things.”
-New Orleans Times-Picayune