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3.8 out of 5 stars
A Lion Among Men (Wicked Years 3)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2008
Maguire faces a conundrum; he's created arguably one of the most powerful heroines in modern literature and also killed her off as he was required to do; he has to therefore build on the success of Elphaba without being able to portray her. Son of A Witch and now A Lion Among Men continues the story of Oz in which Elphaba acts only as a background character whose presence, because of the success of Wicked, must somehow seep into each subsequent novel.
I did not find Brrr- the Cowardly Lion appealing. I was not as interested in his story as I thought I'd be. I had expected Maguire to weave a traumatic tale of abuse, rejection and how Brrr's relationships in life created a nervous and, perhaps, psychologically disturbed individual. I didn't get that, at least not to the extent I expected from Maguire. Perhaps I just did not engage in Brrr's journey as I found the character quite dislikable and aversive (and not in the Elphaba type of way). I did enjoy the allegorical dimension in which the Lion is perceived as being a collaborationist to the Wizard's regime and also a sympathizer to the Witch's cause at the same time. The discussion regarding the coming and going of different political regimes was also a poignant one. Maguire is a master of political allegory and there is much to be found in this novel. Oz is a rich, dark and complex world on the brink of civil war and Maguire builds the tension brilliantly. With the two Witches who were leaders of separatist states dead, Oz is in freefall.
The novel tells two distinct stories, that of the Lion and that of the mysterious Yackle who appeared to frequent Elphaba's life in Wicked. Although I enjoyed not knowing who Yackle was in Wicked and the many questions that arose about her, her story was the most enjoyable in this novel. The second half of A Lion Among Men pieces together the significance of the allusive Clock of the Time Dragon, Yackle's purpose and what eventually happened to the Grimmerie. Fate is also a recurring theme as it was in the previous two novels and Maguire also begins to challenge unquestioned faith. There's a slight discord between Brrr's story and Yackle's and the two narratives simply don't mesh.
Because the characterization of Brrr was not as strong as I had hoped, I found myself longing to read more about Maguire's familiar characters such as Glinda and Liir. Although both are mentioned, neither appear in the novel and I had hoped to discover more about Liir's journey, especially after finishing Son of a Witch a few years ago for I desperate to read more. My biggest disappointment is that this novel did not continue what Son of A Witch established and where it left off. Maguire will hopefully continue Liir's story in future novels.
An enjoyable read as Oz is such a rich tapestry of people and places but perhaps sadly lacking in Brrr's narrative.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2008
For me Maguire had a lot to live up to. Wicked was sensational, and Son of a Witch continued his story of Oz perfectly. Yet another new take on the adventures in Oz we thought we knew.
In truth I was dubious about a tale of the Cowardly Lion. Always the least favourite of the characters in my opinion, Maguire had a challenge on his hands to pull this off. And he does. Kind of.
Oz is at war, the political backdrops are classic Maguire, and his development and reveal of what we assume are stage-side characters blossom at a perfect pace - it made me want to keep reading! The two protagonists, Brrr the Lion and Yackle (the previously discrete oracle hag) grew to be more appealing, interweaving their stories in interviews. There is tension, drama and that level of humour we have grown to love in the previous novels. Brrr is endearing to an extent but one can see where Maguire has tried to make him so. His adventures were a tad dull, but I suppose that's made him who he is! I couldn't have cared less about the Ghullim - his time there bored me (absolutely nothing happpened) and they were poorly drawn. Yackle on the other hand appears just as I have grown to love and wonder about her, a true enigma. It's also true there are other characters I care about and wanted to learn more - Liir, Trism, Glinda and Shell certainly, with brief mentions but that is all, but as an intermediary book (I hope) we will return to their stories soon enough.

To answer a question - yes buy it, read it, marginally enjoy it and then wait for the next one.

One final thing - Unlike Son of a Witch (which I believe was written with the idea in mind) this isn't going to be a musical anytime soon.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2010
After reading Wicked and Son of a Witch in quick succession, I was again pleasantly surprised by the tale spun in A Lion Among Men. Bringing us back to the Cowardly Lion and how he got the name, Maguire uses Mother Yackle as a supernatural but not altogether 'bad' character. More secrets about Liir and Elphaba are realised and it's enough to make you squirm in your seat as you will, undoubtedly, wait impatiently for the next turn of the page.

A must read.
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on 27 September 2011
*minor spoilers*

The first thing I have to say is that I loved "Wicked" and was very fond of "Son of a Witch", and I really wanted to like this book, too.

Unlike the protagonists of the previous novels in the Wicked series, I found Brrr the Lion to be a bland and unsympathetic protagonist. He is frequently pathetic, his actions demonstrate a certain degree of absolute stupidity above mere cowardliness(allowing his one friend to die), and there is little that he does to warm him to the reader. Yackle - the crone who frequently appeared in Elphaba's life in "Wicked" - is a considerably better protagonist; she at least has some life and interest to her.

The minor characters are considerably more interesting than the protagonists and I wish I could have seen more of them (Fiyero's daughter Nor, now calling herself Ilianora and trying to erase her past; I was also pleased to see that Sisters Doctor and Apothecaire from "Son of a Witch" were back to help relieve the tedium of a story that was mostly backstory and very little action). I was most disappointed however to see that Liir, the protagonist in "Son of a Witch" only made a minor appearance, we learned nothing more of his daughter, and - with the exception of a couple of little mentions - there was no Glinda whatsoever.

"A Lion Among Men" gets one star because there is some information about Liir and Elphaba, it is generally nice to have a full series, and Maguire still display's his obvious intelligence even though the story is, in my opinion, well below the bar he has set with his previous offerings in the series. The other star is because of an intriguing line from Yackle (*spoiler* "she's coming back, you know"), which has got me scratching my head, because the meaning is very vague - it could be any one of three characters.

I do, however, hope the fourth installment is an improvement on the third.
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on 7 June 2012
Following on from Wicked was always going to be a hard task. There is only so far you can write whilst following a general basis as Oz is well known and gives you a starting point.

A lion among men I find does well to look into a character that you don't know the back story off and although yes it does get a bit too political at some points it is worth sticking out and following the character, because if anything that is needed because who really imagined him as a lion to go and fight pirates on a wild sea whilst mermaids tried to win his heart? That just isn't how his life would go.

This is an interesting follow on and still enjoyable due to the style of writing.
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on 1 January 2012
I was so disappointed by this addition to the books, I really really hoped to get in to it after I found the second book, son of a witch a little slow. Unfortunately this book has really disappointed me. I felt that it was too low, boring and did not really more the story along or develop. I read this because I want to read the last book. I would suggest possibly buying this on audio book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2011
I'm a big admirer of Gregory Maguire's first Wicked book. It rightly deserves all the literary and popular acclaim it has so far garnered. I was fascinated by the life story and character of Elphaba Thropp aka The Wicked Witch of the West. The second book, Son of a Witch, was disappointing, mediocre but sort of readable. It suffered most because of the need to compare it to its predecessor. This third book, A lion Among Men, is much worse. It hardly seems like a book at all, more like a DVD commentary for a tv series/first two books, where cast and crew tell anecdotes about the filming. Only unable to get either the lead actor, writer or director the commentary features actors who played minor characters and forces them to go through a question and answer session formulated by a group of fans. The Lion and Yackle fit into that role, with a mystery guest contributor on the last episode.
Who else but the most rabid of fan could would put up with two such unlikable characters as The Lion (sorry Brrr) and Yackle for over 400 pages? The cowardly lion sits in one room and interviews Yackle for most of the book. Though being such a poor excuse for an interviewer, the Lion tells more about his own experiences than he receives from Yackle. We hear all about his aimless meandering. Of course he has to meet some lions, oh and some tigers and unfortunately some bears...oh my. There is also an attempt by the author to shoehorn a theme about the morality of war into the mix but this only serves to compound the already rampant cynicism of the the main characters.
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on 3 May 2013
If you were blown away by the musical WICKED then read the books for the full story of the characters. Kindle version purchased for my daughter, she's loving it.
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on 12 January 2014
Great delivery speed andnew condition. My little sister (13) loves Wicked a lot and she loves this book too. With a guess i would say she would reccommend it!
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on 8 January 2014
Loved it! Not the best in the series but still very very readable - keeps the whole story moving along and gives some great background to the Clock and Yackle
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