Well, as they say, everything comes to an end. Glinda of Oz is the fourteenth and final Oz book penned by L. Frank Baum, who passed away soon after the completion of this novel in 1919, and I found the reading of his last work an emotional experience. Emotional because I finally did what I set out to do, which is read all fourteen Oz books back to back, and emotional because these were the last words Baum ever put to paper. I haven’t loved, or even liked, some of these books, so I was wary of the last one being a disappointment; I knew, however, within the first few chapters that this was easily going to be one of the better Oz sequels.
One of the most heartbreaking elements about the book is the opening To Our Readers, which up until this book was always a fun little letter written by Baum about what inspired the newest installment of his series. In Glinda of Oz, it’s a downbeat, impersonal note from The Publishers essentially apologizing about the fact that Baum has passed away and is to write no more. The reading becomes more uplifting and engaging, however, once the words of Chapter One begin. Glinda of Oz is one of Baum’s most fast-paced and entertaining stories, one that gets almost every major character from the previous books his or her own storyline or memorable scene. Unlike some of the books that follow new or minor characters we don’t care about, Glinda of Oz follows Ozma and Dorothy on a perilous journey toward the outskirts of Oz, and Glinda, who gets the title this time out, plays a major part, too, and is never relegated to the sidelines.
As always, Baum’s descriptions are superb and delightful, especially in the way he describes the Flatheads, new villains introduced in this piece. I loved how over fourteen books his imagination never ceased, and there is the feeling when the last page of this one is closed that he probably had another fifty Oz books in him, if he had lived forever. (Of course, many more Oz books were written after this. Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote 19 more, and others wrote an additional ten or more over the years. While I’m sure there is entertainment value to be found in these, my journey in the Oz series stops here.)
While I couldn’t decipher anywhere in the text that Baum knew this was to be his last book, there is one scene in Chapter 14 called Ozma’s Counsellors that puts almost every character we’ve come to meet over fourteen books at a big roundtable, and it is in this chapter that Baum gives the characters their final bows. Everyone from the Tin Woodman, to the Patchwork Girl, to Tik-Tok, to Jack Pumpkinhead. It’s a beautiful chapter that gives the reader one last good-bye to these beloved characters. On the other hand, strangely enough, the book has kind of a non-ending, one that pays more attention to the restoration of the Flathead characters and that doesn’t give any proper closure to the series as a whole. Maybe he had no idea this was it. Either way, I enjoyed this book immensely, and I am sad my journey is over.
Now that I’ve finished, I thought I would rank the Oz series, from worst to best. Here goes…
14. Rinkitink of Oz
13. The Scarecrow of Oz
12. Tik-Tok of Oz
11. The Road to Oz
10. The Patchwork Girl of Oz
9. The Magic of Oz
8. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
7. Glinda of Oz
6. The Marvelous Land of Oz
5. The Lost Princess of Oz
4. The Emerald City of Oz
3. The Tin Woodman of Oz
2. Ozma of Oz
1. The Wizard of Oz
If you love The Wizard of Oz and want to read more in the series, but don’t want to read every single installment, the sequels that get my highest recommendations are Ozma of Oz, Book 3; The Tin Woodman of Oz, Book 12; and The Emerald City of Oz, Book 6. These are the three that I loved. And what’s great about Baum’s series is that you don’t have to read the sequels in order to understand what’s going on. Dip into any story you want, and it can easily be read as a stand-alone. But if you want true enchantment, try one of those three titles. You won’t be disappointed!
Reading all of Baum’s Oz books has been a wonderful journey, one that I’m very glad to have taken. As a writer myself, I learned from Baum how to write simple, imaginative descriptions for characters and how to keep readers turning the page. Mostly I learned how writing fantasy stories for children is absolutely a worthwhile venture to take on. There’s more to Oz than the 1939 movie, boy do I know that now, and I urge all of you to give one of these many joyous books a try. Long live Oz!