A Lion among Men (Wicked Years Series #3)

A Lion among Men (Wicked Years Series #3)

by Gregory Maguire


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060859725
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Series: Wicked Years Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 48,754
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Albany, New York


B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990

Read an Excerpt

A Lion Among Men

Chapter One

The time came for her to die, and she would not die; so perhaps she might waste away, they thought, and she did waste, but not away; and the time came for her to receive final absolution, so they set candles upon her clavicle, but this she would not allow. She blasphemed with gusto and she knocked the scented oils across the shroud they'd readied on a trestle nearby.

"God love her," they said, in bitter, unconvincing voices...or perhaps they meant May the Unnamed God love her, our unrepentant sister Yackle, for we certainly can't.

"Sink me in the crypt," she said, speaking directly to them for the first time in years. "You're too young to know; that's how they used to do it. When the time came for an elder to go and she wouldn't, they settled her down in the ossuary so she could chummy up to the bones. Supplied her with a couple of candles and a bottle of wine. Let her get used to the notion. They came back a year later to sweep up the leavings."

"Mercy," said whoever was nearby to hear.

"I insist," she replied. "Check with Sister Scholastica and she'll bear me out.""She's raving mad," said someone else, chocolately. Yackle approved of chocolate, and indeed, everything edible. Since Yackle's eyesight had gone out for good a decade earlier, she identified individuals by the degree and idiosyncracy of their halitosis.

"She's always been raving mad," said a third observer, Vinegarish Almonds. "Isn't that rather sweet?"

Yackle reached for something to throw, and all she could find was her other hand, which wouldn't detach.

"She's doing sign language." "The poor, deluded dovelette.""Clinging to life so...whatever for?" "Perhaps it isn't her time."

"It is," said Yackle, "it is, I keep telling you. Won't you fiends let me die? I want to go to hell in a handbasket. Put me out of my misery and into the Afterlife where I can do some real damage, damn it."

"She's not herself," said someone.

"She was never reliably herself, to hear tell," said another.

The bedsheets caught fire spontaneously. Yackle found she was rather enjoying this, but it helped neither her reputation nor her rescue that the only liquid nearby with which to douse the flames was cognac.

Still, Yackle was not to be dissuaded. "Isn't there a Superior in the House?" she asked. "Someone who can lay down the law?"

"The Superior Maunt died a decade ago," they replied. "We work by consensus now. We've noted your request to be interred alive. We'll put it on the agenda and take it up next week at Council."

"She'll burn the House down, and us with it," muttered a novice, sometime later. Yackle could tell that the innocent speaker was talking to herself, to stoke her courage.

"Come here, my duckie," said Yackle, grasping. "I smell a little peppermint girl nearby, and no garlicky matron hovering. Are you the sentry? On our own, are we? Come, sit nearer. Surely there is still a Sister Apothecaire in residence? With her cabinets of nostrums and beckums, tonics and tablets? She must possess a sealed jar, it would be dark blue glass, about yea-high, pasted over with a label picturing three sets of crossed tibias. Couldn't you find this and pour me out a fatal little decoction?"

"Not a spoonful of it, I en't the grace to do it," said Peppermint Girl. "Let go a me, you harpy. Let go or...or I'll bite you!"

Out of charity to the young, Yackle let go. It would do the poor girl no good to take a bite of old Yackle. The antidote en't been invented yet, and so on.

Hours and days pass at elastic rhythms for the blind. Whether the pattern of her naps and wakings followed the ordinary interruptions of daylight by nighttime, Yackle couldn't tell. But someone she recognized as Broccoli Breath eventually informed her that the sorority had decided to bow to Yackle's final wish. They would install her in the crypt among the remains of women long dead. She could approach bodily corruption at whatever speed appealed to her. Three candles, and as to nourishment, red or white?

"A beaker of gasoline and a match as a chaser," said Yackle, but she was indulging in a joke; she was that pleased. She nominated a saucy persimmon flaucande and a beeswax candle scented with limeberries...for the aroma, not for the light. She was beyond light now.

"Good voyage, Eldest Soul," they sang to her as they carried her down the stairs. Though she weighed no more than sugarbrittle she was awkward to move; she couldn't govern her own arms or legs. As if motivated by a spite independent of her own, her limbs would keep ratcheting out to jab into doorjambs. The procession lacked a fitting dignity.

"Don't come down for at least a year," she sang out, giddy as a lambkin. "Make that two. I might be old as sin itself, but once I start rotting it won't be pretty. If I hammer at the cellar door don't open it; I'm probably just collecting for some public charity in hell."

"Can we serenade you with an epithalamium, as you go to marry Death?" asked one of the bearers, tucking in the shroud to make it cozy.

"Save your doggy breath. Go, go, on to the rest of your lives, you lot. It's been a swell, mysterious mess of a life. Don't mind me. I'll blow the candles out before I lower my own lights."

A year later when a sister ventured into the crypt to prepare for another burial, she came across the hem of Yackle's shroud. She wept at the notion of death until Yackle sat up and said, "What, morning already? And I having those naughty dreams!" The maunt's tears turned to screams, and she fled upstairs to start immediately upon a long and lively career as an alcoholic.

A Lion Among Men. Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Lion Among Men (Wicked Years Series #3) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 318 reviews.
AvenueQ More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed the first two books in the Wicked series. This only added to my disappointment with this book. While the idea of hearing the untold story of the Cowardly Lion does sound intriguing, this book lacked much in the way of a continuing storyline. Outside of retrospection, this book did very little in the way of furthering the story in respect to the first two books. While I wouldn't say not to read the book, I will say to wait for the paperback or borrow it from a friend as it was not worth the $20. In all due respect to Mr.Maguire, I think this book seemed more like a paycheck than a story. While I would love to see how things turn out for Brrr, Nor, Candle, and Liir, I would not want to spend over 300 pages to advance one day in the overall story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Wicked and Son of a Witch, but this seemed to drag on and got to the point that I made myself read it and finish the book so I could get started on the 4th book.
Bwitchd3 More than 1 year ago
This book fills in some of the holes left by the first two books. Secrets are revealed, stories are told, and futures are made. Brrr is an interesting character that both cares and doesn’t care. He wants nothing to do with society, but can’t seem to stay away from it. All he wants is love and a home, and by the end of this book he finds it in the strangest of places. Yackle has been a mysterious character throughout this series, and her story is finally told, albeit reluctantly. You won’t be able to wait for the last book!
alicelouise More than 1 year ago
without "Wicked" or "Son of a Witch". I was intrigued by the Cowardly Lion and maybe a counter novel to L. Frank Baum's Oz novel of the Cowardly Lion. It was not to be. The characterization of Brr was great. In the lines of dialogue you could almost hear Bert Lahr's voice for Brr. You find out that he is not so craven as much as he is a pragmatist. In times of great upheaval Brr lands on his feet. He may not land in a glorious manner; mind you. He might only gain a laughable title. He does land and not get driven out or swept away like the other Animals. The other characters were dropped too quickly and were swept away. I wanted more of Cubbins and Jemmsy. It may have been done by design. I hope the 4th book draws from the Baum novel that features TikTok, Pumpkinhead, and Mombi. The timeline goes back and forth from past to present without warning. Those who enjoy characterization will enjoy this novel(as with Son of a Witch). If you want a coherent plot, you may be in for frustration and disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More answers are revealed in this book of the series. Although this was not my favorite book in the series, it seemed more interspective of all the books. The Lion tried to figure out just where his loyalties belonged and where he came from, Yackle, too, tried to remember her beginning, and everybody tried to figure out where the boy, Liir, had wound up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all the books that gregory maguire writes but this one in particular i did not like. It was slow and hard to get into. I found it hard to follow as well. I kept reading to the end though, whether it wa my desire to find mething interesting or my drive to get it done amd over with, unfortunately i didnt fimd anything that parrticularly sparked my imaginaton except for maybe the part near the end with that twist about the cat and thebold lady whom i have plum forgotten her name. Maybe it was too political or too militaristic that made me not understand, whatever the case this was still my least fsvorite in the whole series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite my reading it right after finishing the first two volumes of the Wicked Years series it took me a while to get into this volume because the Lion's character seemed so amorphous. In the end however I found it very satisfying precisely because his character was so complex and not predictable. All the characters, in fact, are flawed--rather seriously at times--and that seems to be the heart of what Maguire is doing in the series. Their faults are distressing at times but allowed me to relate and develop sympathy for them. Although religious faith and doubt (or faith of some kind) plays an important role in the series, the author allows for all possibilities in how his characters approach or reject it and this volume in particular integrates that theme with the psychology of the characters' self-doubts and frustrations. As with the rest of the series, clever references to the original Oz series by Baum and to the 1939 movie sweeten the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed reading Gregory Maguire's Wicked and Son of a Witch, then you'll definitely love this book as well. The book tells the story of Oz once more, but this time through the eyes of the "cowardly Lion", Brrr. You go on his journey with him and, just like in Wicked, see how a title, and a perception of someone or, in his case, an Animal, doesn't really justify the way you think of them, considering you don't know their story and how they became the way that they are. Gregory Maguire did a wonderful job writting this novel, as he did with his others. The style of writting is superb, in the sense that he tells you just enough to get you to figure things out on your own and make your own interpretations concerning the story. It allows you to think and use your mind, which most books lack now a days. If you enjoyed any of his other books, then you'll love this one as well. Older readers will understand the novel more and fully grasp what is being conveyed, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to younger readers, as they may get confused throughout the story.
Quan-Kun More than 1 year ago
I initially was going to rate this book 3 stars, but the last few chapters definitely made this a 4 star read. There were moments where I grew weary of the Lion, but such is his character. There is meaning & hidden purpose in this book, and the characters of focus are a perfect match. The biggest plus for this installation into the wicked series is this: There IS closure! Some of the lingering questions from both "Wicked" as well as "Son of a Witch" are finally answered! This alone makes the book worth reading. The rest, is simply a bonus. I for one, am glad I gave it a chance, and I think lovers of the wicked series should as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved how this book kept OZ and its people alive!
sugarpy18 More than 1 year ago
If you read and liked Wicked and Son of the Witch, then you will definitely like this book. Just like the first two books, A Lion Among Men is sharply written, with interesting characters and a gripping plot. Not only do we find out the life story of the Lion who helped Dorothy kill the Wicked Witch, but we furthermore learn the story of Oz, the Witch, her son and other characters involved in their lives. Gregory Maguire's writing style is addictive, it was hard for me to put the book down.
anniebngreg More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this, although I wasn't as smitten as with WICKED, nor with SON of a WITCH. The prose is still wondrous and the imaginations of Mr Maguire are rich and full. I'm looking forward to the 4th in the Series, although not with as much eagerness as I sought #3. It's good to connect and read all three in the series in order, and I'm glad I did. It's just not as fine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was good and interesting for the overall storyline, but in itself it had a lot of slow parts. It was a good story of the life of the Cowardly Lion but again was too dragged out.
WilV More than 1 year ago
Another great work from the wicked years. The character of Brr (cowardly Lion) was moving and his story compelling. The story follows this lonely misunderstood creature as he learns some of life's harder lessons and attempts to find his place in the world.
theokester on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the third book in the "Wicked Years" series from Gregory Maguire. I'm still trying to figure out what I really think about this book and why. As with the previous books, this novel gives us an alternate look at the world of Oz that many of us only know from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (most likely the Judy Garland movie, but also perhaps the book). I, for one, keep intending to go and read the many Oz books written by L. F. Baum, but sadly I've never done so.That said, I'm fairly certain that (apart from the high level similarities such as local, character types, etc) Maguire's envisioning of Oz is quite different from Baum's. And that's not necessarily a bad thing¿it's just different.I enjoyed Wicked (book 1), although I preferred the hit Broadway play based on the novel. I liked Son of a Witch as a continuation of the story from book 1. It presented an intriguing follow-up to the intrigue and difficulties that were unraveling at the end of the first book.With book 3, we catch up with the story a few years after book 2 and so in some ways it is a continuation of the saga. However, this book is largely an introspective presented to us by the Cowardly Lion and set alongside a bit of thoughtful backstory from Yackle as well as the slow moving action of the Time Dragon.As for an overall storyline with rising and falling action, this story strays from the normal mode. The meta story involves a war being waged across the land and presents us with the Lion (Brrrr) interviewing Yackle on a site which will soon be right in the middle of an ensuing battle. The approaching armies add some urgency to the timeliness of their discussion but the war and the battle exist on the periphery so it's difficult to fully gage any rising or falling action or suspense based on the war in Oz.Instead, we spend most of the time learning the backstory of the Cowardly Lion, beginning from his life in Oz around the same time Elphaba was making her mark and then following his actions up until the present day. Part of the narrative seems to be his search for family or at least for his own "origin story" to try and figure out where he came from and who he was.The idea of identity figures strongly in the book. Over the years, Brrr has done what he can to stay comfortable and safe but often at the expense of any real definitive action on his part. He constantly finds himself in the middle of predicaments and sometimes he even feels strongly one way or another, but he quite often takes the path of least resistance attempting to avoid confrontation and commitment. His inaction (or sometimes, poorly planned/executed actions) lead to him being constantly slandered and associated with the bad forces around the land. He finds himself accused both of being an ally to Elphaba and and ally to the Wizard in her destruction. Similar paradoxical attributions happen throughout his life.Brrr introspectively considers what it is that really matters in his life. He contemplates the repercussions of his actions (and inactions) and generally feels like he's let himself down, although he never seemed to have a clear set of expectations for himself.His mission to interview Yackle is a sort of last-ditch effort to make something of himself¿though at the same time, the main motivating factor for endeavoring on the mission is actually one of self-preservation so once again he is very much compelled into action rather than freely and consciously choosing to undertake this action.By the end of the book, Brrr has a better sense of himself. He's still a bit confused. He's still not fully sure of where he fits in. But at least he's made up his mind to actually DO something¿.he's thought through some of the consequences of his potential action and decided that whatever the cost, he must do what he believes. And that's key¿he finally has a cause he believes in, even if it's just a glimmer of belief.Often I found the narrative to be an ambling mis-mash of ideas and stories. I kept try
EmScape on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A Lion Among Men is mostly backstory on the Cowardly Lion. A very different past than one would imagine him to have, but interesting to read about. The action in the present is less entertaining, but a halfway decent excuse for the Lion to relate his past to us.After reading other reviews I expected a less entertaining book than this was. Not to say that it was good or anything, but it was better than suspected. Some long-wondered-about questions were answered about the life of Elphaba and other major players in Wicked, and some other questions were raised. Hopefully there will be an omega to this series and hopefully it will equal or even surpass the excellence of Wicked.
eggsnhm on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved _Wicked_ for humanizing the Wicked Witch of the West. After reading it, I came away thinking "If you were the only green girl in *your* family, and you were allergic to water, you might wind up a little cranky too." However, neither Son of a Witch, nor A Lion Among Men have lived up to the level of insight and engagement provided by the first book in the series. For years, I've loved Maguire's way of recrafting fairy tales. However, the further he drifts into Oz, the less interested I am. As for _Lion_ the most interesting character is Yackle, who, on the one hand, is central to the novel, and yet, on the other, is absent from most of the telling. Everything we learn about the lion himself seems a pointless digression.
jedimarri on LibraryThing 8 months ago
"A Lion Among Men" is the third book in his series "The Wicked Years" that started with prize winning book, "Wicked." The first book, Wicked, told the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. The second book, "Son of a Witch," told the story of Liir, Elphaba's son (we think). In this book we learn the story of the Cowardly Lion and the oracle Yackle. I actually didn't like the story of the Cowardly Lion that much. I'm not sure if that's just because Maguire did a good job of portraying him as cowardly, or if it was something else, but I didn't enjoy this book as much as the last two. I did enjoy learning more about Yackle and her origins though!Throughout the first two books Yackle is a mysterious character who hovers on the edges of the story. She shows up in some of the oddest places, and you always wonder why she's involved with the story. In this book we finally learn why!From looking on-line, there are no more books written yet in this series. I'm curious to see where he's going to take the Oz story next, and I'm hoping I like book 4 better than I did book 3!
echaika on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The final book of Gregory Maguire's trilogy loses none of the magic and bite of Wicked and flows more easily than Son of a Witch, perhaps because it doesn't get lost in the dungeons of Emerald City as that one did. Maguire's prose is itself often magical. We see starry nights as amazing as Van Gogh's, hear music from oak string trees, and see characters morfing as in an Anime film or even a cartoon. The amazing assortment of characters continue: dwarfs, Munchkins, Animals, animals, winged women, but, with no Elphaba, no green ones.The satires on society and politics continue, and, to them, is added religion. He makes an interesting--and clever case for the impossibility of their being music in heaven, centered on the fact that music is time-based and heaven is not. (If I understood him, or rather the character who said it, correctly.)There is one brilliantly erotic scene between Animals of different species. The paragraphs on food are mouthwatering, although one can hardly reproduce the meals this side of Oz.It's strange that I loved these books as, even as a child, I never read fairy tales, or the Oz books. I did read reality based kids' series like The Bobbsey Twins, Heidi, and all of Louisa May Alcott. I also read all the adult novels in my parents' library since I was blessedly unattended most of the time.The only book I did read that treated animals as people was a curiosity in my parents' library called, Lightfoot the Leaping Goat, which, along with Heidi and the Alcott books, I read and reread at least fifty times each. I can't explain that aberration. Nor can I explain the aberration of The Wicked Years. I don't like fantasy. Nor do I like science fiction. Do you ever wonder why you like the books you do? It's not only their artistic worth, although Maguire's prose is very fine, very vivid, wickedly satiric, but never with a bludgeon.
glitrbug on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Wicked was wonderful, Son of a Witch was good, A Lion Amoung Men was a sad waste of money. I like the way Maguire plays with words. I enjoy his references to other writers, but this book just seemed like a rehash of the first two with very little added to the story. Nothing much to be learned about Brr or Yackle that wasn't inferred from the earlier books. I wish I could get a refund of funds and time spent.
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The story of the cowardly lion is a very interesting one. The third book walks us through his childhood, how he met Dorothy, and the part he is to play in the future of Oz.The lion, Brrr, has quite an eventful past, and the way he received the name "cowardly" is very entertaining, and yet very sad. Brrr's entire life has been trying to fit in, somewhere, anywhere, and the fear that he never truly will haunts him.We are introduced once again to the strange character of Yackle, the old woman who has followed the story of Oz through all three books so far. We also get a glimpse into her history and why she seems to be so eternal. We meet the Clock of the Time Dragan and it helps us to tie many of the loose ends together. Although the series still seems to lack a true conclusion, most of what has been on my mind was cleared up throughout this book.4/5
madamejeanie on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the highly entertaining third installment in Maguire's "Wicked Years" series, and it is concentrated on the Cowardly Lion named Brrr. This is his story, from his murky beginnings as a cub alone in the great woods, through his life, making his way as an Animal with sentience and a conscience. Brrr's life brushes that of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West of Oz, twice -- once as a tiny cub and again at her spectacular end. But his is a story of shame and ridicule, a life spent on the edge of humanity and civilization, always misunderstood, always persecuted, almost always alone. It is only as a middle aged washed up has-been that he is sent off by the Emperor of Oz to search for traces of Liir, the reputed son of Elphaba, and he finds himself in the tower of a mauntery interviewing an anceient crone who cannot seem to die named Yackle, and square in the cross-hairs of two opposing armies as Oz is about to explode into civil war all around him.This novel was a very good revisit to the Oz created in Maguire's imagination, a place where evil isn't necessarily what it first appears to be and trustworthiness is truly in the eye of the beholder. Unlike the first two volumes in this series, this story really cannot stand on its own, and I thought the story dragged a bit in several places, including a couple of threads in Brrr's life that seemed to serve no purpose at all in furthering the saga of Oz and weren't really that interesting. I still think it's worth reading, though, and that this is one of the best fiction series in the fantasy realm today. I wish Maguire would concentrate a bit more on it and come out with further volumes without waiting years and years between them!
trinibaby9 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was the weakest book in the series by far. There was very little development or excitement. Much of the book felt as if it was a real strain for Maguire. It seems like he is trying to draw the series out but has a lack of material or things to say. This didn't advance the story line very much at all, or add alot of depth. It's not horrible by any means it just lacks the excitement of the first books. I'm hoping the series hasn't fizzled out and am going to assume this is just a transition type of book. In the end the book had very little to say, but the incorporation of the lion is a good idea.
koalamom on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Here we have Gregory Maguire taking us on another walk on the yellow brick road giving us his take on the life of the Cowardly Lion, who is nothing like Bert Lahr. The story begins with his trying to get information from an old woman who knew Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. She won't answer him until she learns more about him and so his story goes with more to come? We'll have to wait and see.The story moved well enough and gave an insight to the character that the movie seemed to spoof. It's a good third part to this story.
DevourerOfBooks on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.