A Lion Among Men – Book Review

a-lion-among-menA Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

I have this tendency, if I like the first book I read from an author, to keep trying his or her work over and over again, even if I don’t like ANY of the subsequent books I read by said author.  I may need to stop doing that.

In this case, I really, really liked “Wicked” when I read it.  I know that some people find it slow, but it really clicked for me, I loved the politics of it.  I then tried some of Maguire’s other fairy tale books, “Mirror, Mirror” and “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.”  I found both of them pretty ‘bleh’.  They weren’t bad per se, but I didn’t enjoy them in the least.  Even so, I decided to read “Son of  a Witch” sometime back because, even if I didn’t like his other work, I wanted to continue in Maguire’s version of Oz.  I did enjoy “Son of a Witch” more than the non-Oz books, but really didn’t love it.  Regardless, when I heard about “A Lion Among Men,” I knew I wanted to read it.

It took me awhile, but I finally got around to “A Lion Among Men,” borrowing the audiobook from the library.  It tells the story both of Brrr, the Cowardly Lion, and Yackle, the witch who figured prominently in Elphaba’s life in “Wicked.”  On one hand, I did want to know more about both figures and how Maguire saw them fitting into Elphaba’s story.  On the other hand, I was about as interested in this book as I was in Maguire’s non-Oz books, even with my desire to piece together the story, which means that I probably actually liked the book itself LESS than his others.

No more Maguire for me, I think, other than possible re-reads of “Wicked.”

If you have liked Maguire’s other work and want to continue his Oz story, read this by all means.  The problem isn’t poor writing, it is just that, other than “Wicked,” something about these books rubs me the wrong way.  If you’re not crazy about Maguire, learn my lesson and don’t bother.

19 comments to A Lion Among Men – Book Review

  • Great review. When I first saw the headline on Twitter I thought it was that Andrew Johnson biography! Oy. I haven’t read any of this series but I appreciate your views! It’s nice to know a little more about them the next time I see them in the store. :-)

    Marie’s last blog post..Unfinished Friday

  • Like you I really liked Wicked, but haven’t really like the others that I’ve read by him (Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister & Son of a Witch for me). I will probably read this one… eventually, but just to sort of finish off the series and to see what happens between Yackle and Brr.

    Kylee’s last blog post..GIVEAWAY: Girls in Trucks

  • Kathy

    My sister loves Maguire’s books, but none of them have clicked for me.

  • I’m iffy on Maguire too. I read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and I liked where he went with it. It seemed like the writing style was different for Wicked, as if he spent more time working on it. I did think it was a bit slow, but I still enjoyed the read. I just haven’t been inspired to pick up any of his other work. I’m satisfied with the two that I read.

    Nari’s last blog post..The Addict – Review

  • I have this book on my shelf. I bought it awhile back but just haven’t gotten in the mood to read it. I have only read the Oz books by Maguire, too. Like you really likes Wicked and Son of a Witch a little less. We will see when I find the time to read this one. I am not that anxious to read it now. :)

    mari’s last blog post..Book Review- Austenland by Shannon Hale

  • I actually liked his non-Oz books better than the Oz books. I’m still deciding whether or not to read this one.


    Lezlie’s last blog post..GRAVE GOODS

  • I picked up a copy of this not too long ago but since I still haven’t read Son of a Witch (read Wicked twice), I haven’t gotten around to reading this one either. I really like Gregory Maguire’s books for the most part though (except Mirror Mirror)!

    Ladytink_534’s last blog post..Talk About Lost in Translation…

  • All of Gregory Maguire’s books that I’ve read have been pretty meh for me… they’re all pretty good and enjoyable enough, but never really draw me in, and certainly never get me really excited about reading more. I wish I could put my finger on what it is about them that keeps me from loving them.

    Oh! Except Leaping Beauty, which is his collection of snarkily re-told fairy tales for kids, starring animals (“CinderElephant”, etc.). That one I enjoyed quite a bit.

    Fyrefly’s last blog post..M. E. Breen – Darkwood

  • I haven’t read any of the books because everyone keeps telling me they aren’t worth it. I may pick up Wicked one of these days, but I won’t rush right out.

    Beth F’s last blog post..Audiobook Challenge: Wrap-Up

  • I’ve not read any by this author, but I remember awhile back another blogger having difficulties with this one, and eventually abandoning it. So I think you’re in good company!

    Sandy’s last blog post..Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center (audio)

  • jo

    I loved Wicked but I struggled to review it and ended up waffling andmaking no sense! Son of a Witch is up next, so I’ll see what I hink about that. I’m intrigued to find out wht Liir’s been up to.

  • I loved Wicked as much as you did. So much, in fact, that I ran out, bought, and started reading Son of a Witch as soon as I finished it. Son of a Witch left me cold. I can’t recall the name of the character in that book I cared about, but it didn’t tie up her story line at all. Also, the questions that Elphalba’s son faced had, to me, obvious answers that only he seemed to be in the dark about. So, I never picked up A Lion Among Men. I’m glad I didn’t. Like you, I’ll look forward to re-reading Wicked over the years, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of Maguire’s work.

    Literate Housewife’s last blog post..The Sunday Salon ~ 04.26.09

  • I read Wicked and one other that I don’t even remember. Then I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like him retelling stories, even though they are so different than the originals. It still bugs me, so I’m not even tempting to read any of his other books.

    softdrink’s last blog post..Freakonomics

  • Amy

    I completely agree with you on Maguire! I absolutely loved Wicked, but found “Mirror, Mirror” so slow that I can’t bring myself to read “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister”, though it has been on my shelf for at least a year. As for “Son of a Witch” and “A Lion Among Men”, I don’t find them as engrossing, or as entertaining, but can’t help but want to know what happens next in Oz… :)

  • I didn’t love Wicked (thought it was OK) but I’ve been wanting to read Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men. Now I think I might pass on them.

    S. Krishna’s last blog post..Pushing Up Daisies – Rosemary Harris

  • I read Wicked and I don’t have anything nice to say about it…sorry!! But I enjoyed reading your post!! :)

    Staci’s last blog post..Tuesday Teasers and It’s Tuesday Where Are You?

  • I really enjoyed the first two and quickly picked this up on the release date. The Cowardly Lion was always my favorite…sucks that it isn’t as good as the others. I will be reading it, but it’s moved down the list a bit! Thanks for a great review!

    Amy @ Passages to the Past’s last blog post..RIP Marley the Gerbil

  • Andrew

    I was obsessed with Maguire after reading Wicked and promoted his books heavily at the bookstore where I worked. I loved Wicked. Enjoyed Son of a Witch. Found Mirror Mirror enjoyable and Ugly Stepsister dry, but alright. Then A Lion Among Men was just god-awful. I didn’t even read most of it. I skimmed… flicked… surfed through the book, not bothering to absorb anything until the final chapter. Even the revelations afforded at the climax were barely worth struggling through that book. Suffice it to say, I have fallen out of love with Gregory Maguire. He has the ability to totally suck the magic out of fantasy and leave it lifeless and dry. He doesn’t know how to pander to his readers and withholds catharsis and denouement in an almost vindictive manner. Out of Oz was better than his middle two Oz books, but it still left me feeling unsatisfied and frustrated. Sadly, Maguire does not have the ability to generate chemistry or charisma. It happens occasionally by chance – ie Wicked – but don’t expect it from any of his other works.

  • […] Out of Oz is the final volume in the Wicked Years series. I have previously reviewed the 3rd book, A Lion Among Men. […]