What’s that phrase? Patience is a virtue, right? After the disappointment of Scarecrow of Oz, a book that barely even has the Scarecrow in it, and the bore that was Rinki-Tink of Oz, I was close to putting an end to my fourteen-book Oz project. I wasn’t having any fun, and such seemed to be the only real point in this project (aside from having written an Oz fable myself and wanting to learn more about the universe and characters).
The Lost Princess of Oz, book 11 in Baum’s initial 14-book series, was a step in the right direction, with a return to a simple and engaging storyline, as well as the characters we know and love. And now, with just three novels to go, I’m so happy to report that Tin Woodman of Oz, book 12, is an absolute joy from beginning to end, and possibly the best of all the sequels.
Tin Woodman of Oz is the book I hoped Scarecrow of Oz to be, a story that would give us backstory on one of the iconic characters from the first book. That book, however, felt like something entirely different, with the Scarecrow appearing in the last third seemingly like an afterthought.
Tin Woodman of Oz, on the other hand, focuses entirely on our beloved Nick Chopper, who finally gets the chance to tell his heartbreaking story about the girl he loved but who the Wicked Witch of the East, whose Dorothy’s house later squashed, prevented him from being with. We discover how he used to be a man of flesh and then became all made of tin (in all its gruesome details!), and why obtaining a heart was so important to him in the first place. He ultimately sets out on a journey to find his love Nimmee Amee, with the help from two friends, the Scarecrow, and a new character named Woot. Does he find her and get back together? Will he find true joy again?
Tin Woodman of Oz isn’t a perfect novel by any means. It’s another adventure story, with Oz characters on foot bumping into wild and eccentric characters spurred from Baum’s imagination, but this one rings truer because we generally care about Nick Chopper and his pursuit to find his love. Imagine if J.K. Rowling had written a sequel where Albus Dumbledore set out on a journey to find his childhood love, and you get the idea (wow, what a book that would be!).
One section in the middle of the book, where the trio transform into animals, drags a bit, and I also wish the Cowardly Lion could’ve been the third major character here, but the novel’s conclusion is genuinely surprising, in a good way, and the entertainment value in this one exceeds anything in the series since Ozma of Oz, the other great sequel Baum wrote. If you’re interested in reading later Oz books, I would skip over many of the titles, all so you can get to this one. Tin Woodman of Oz is great fun, and a treat for fans of The Wizard of Oz. I’m so happy I stuck with the series long enough to get to it!