Son of a Witch (Wicked Years Series #2)

Son of a Witch (Wicked Years Series #2)

by Gregory Maguire


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The Wicked Years continue in Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch—the heroic saga of the hapless yet determined young man who may or may not be the offspring of the fabled Wicked Witch of the West. A New York Times bestseller like its predecessor, the remarkable Wicked, Son of a Witch follows the boy Liir on his dark odyssey across an ingeniously re-imagined and nearly unrecognizable Land of Oz—a journey that will take him deep into the bowels of the Emerald City, lately abandoned by the Wizard, and into the jaws of dragons. At once a grim fairy tale and an uplifting adventure, Son of a Witch is a true wonder.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060747220
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/26/2006
Series: Wicked Years Series , #2
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 67,267
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.88(d)

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

Son of a Witch

By Gregory Maguire


Copyright © 2005 Gregory Maguire
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060899042

Chapter One

The House of Saint Glinda

So the talk of random brutality wasn't just talk. At noontime they discovered the bodies of three young women, out on some mission of conversion that appeared to have gone awry. The novice maunts had been strangled by their ropes of holy beads, and their faces removed.

Her nerve being shaken at last, Oatsie Manglehand now caved in to the demands of her paying customers. She told the team drivers they'd pause only long enough to dig some shallow graves while the horses slaked their thirst. Then the caravan would press on across the scrubby flats known, for the failed farmsteads abandoned here and there, as the Disappointments.

Moving by night, at least they wouldn't make a sitting target, though they might as easily wander into trouble as sidestep it. Still, Oatsie's party was antsy. Hunker down all night and wait for horse hoofs, spears? Too hard on everyone. Oatsie consoled herself: If the caravan kept moving, she could sit forward with her eyes peeled, out of range of the carping, the second-guessing, the worrying.

With the benefit of height, therefore, Oatsie spotted the gully before anyone else did. The cloudburst at sunset had fed a small trackside rivulet that flowed around a flank ofskin, water-lacquered in the new moonlight. An island, she feared, of human flesh.

I ought to turn aside before the others notice, she thought; how much more can they take? There is nothing I can do for that human soul. The digging of another trench would require an hour, minimum. An additional few moments for prayers. The project would only further agitate these clients as they obsess about their own precious mortality.

Upon the knee of the horizon balanced the head of a jackal moon, so-called because, once every generation or so, a smear of celestial flotsam converged behind the crescent moon of early autumn. The impact was creepy, a look of a brow and a snout. As the moon rounded out over a period of weeks, the starveling would turn into a successful hunter, its cheeks bulging.

Always a fearsome sight, the jackal moon tonight spooked Oatsie Manglehand further. Don't stop for this next casualty. Get through the Disappointments, deliver these paying customers to the gates of the Emerald City.But she resisted giving in to superstition. Be scared of the real jackals, she reminded herself, not frets and nocturnal portents.

In any case, the light of the constellation alleviated some of the color blindness that sets in at night. The body was pale, almost luminous. Oatsie might divert the Grasstrail Train and give the corpse a wide berth before anyone else noticed it, but the slope of the person's shoulders, the unnatural twist of legs -- the jackal moon made her read the figure too well, as too clearly human, for her to be able to turn aside.

"Nubb," she barked to her second, "rein in. We'll pull into flank formation up that rise. There's another fatality, there in the runoff."

Cries of alarm as the news passed back, and another mutter of mutiny: Why should they stop? -- were they to bear witness to every fresh atrocity? Oatsie didn't listen. She yanked the reins of her team of horses, to halt them, and she lowered herself gingerly. She stumped, her hand on her sore hip, until she stood a few feet over the body.

Face down and genitals hidden, he appeared to have been a young man. A few scraps of fabric were still knotted about his waist, and a boot some yards distant, but he was otherwise naked, and no sign of his clothes.

Curious: no evidence of the assassins. Neither had there been about the bodies of the maunts, but that was on rockier ground, in a drier hour. Oatsie couldn't see any sign of scuffle here, and in the mud of the gulch one might have expected . . . something. The body wasn't bloody, nor decayed yet; the murder was recent. Perhaps this evening, perhaps only an hour ago.

"Nubb, let's heave him up and see if they've taken his face," she said.

"No blood," said Nubb.

"Blood may have run off in that cloudburst. Steel yourself, now."

They got on either side of the body and bit their lips. She looked at Nubb, meaning: It's only the next thing, it's not the last thing. Let's get through this, fellow.

She jerked her head in the direction of the hoist. One, two, heave.

They got him up. His head had fallen into a natural scoop in the stone, a few inches higher than where the rain had pooled. His face was intact, more or less; that is to say, it was still there, though shattered.

"How did he get here?" said Nubb. "And why didn't they scrape him?"

Oatsie just shook her head. She settled on her haunches. Her travelers had come forward and were congregating on the rise behind her; she could hear them rustling. She suspected that they had gathered stones, and were ready to kill her if she insisted on a burial.

The jackal moon rose a few notches higher, as if trying to see into the gulley. The prurience of the heavens!

"We're not going to dig another grave." That from her noisiest client, a wealthy trader from the northern Vinkus. "Not his, Oatsie Manglehand, and not yours, either. We're not doing it. We leave him unburied and alone, or we leave him unburied with your corpse for company."

"We don't need to do either," said Oatsie. She sighed. "Poor, poor soul, whoever he is. He needs no grave. He isn't dead yet."

In time, when the travelers had rejoined their cronies and relatives in the Emerald City -- in salons, in public houses, in taverns of exchange -- they heard more chatter about the hostilities they had managed to sidestep. Rumor flourished. Forty, sixty, a hundred deaths resulting from the skirmishes between the Scrow and the Yunamata. Barbarians, the lot of them:They deserved to kill off each other. But not us.


Excerpted from Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire Copyright © 2005 by Gregory Maguire. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Wally Lamb

For Wicked:“I fell quickly and totally under the spell of this remarkable, wry, and fully realized story.”

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Son of a Witch 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 545 reviews.
theokester More than 1 year ago
A year or so ago I read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and found it pretty enjoyable and thought provoking. Enough so that I picked up the follow-up book, Son of a Witch. It took a while to finally getting around to reading the second book...and by now I've seen the musical and forgotten elements of the first book (which are definitely radically changed for the musical). My overall feeling is that Son of a Witch has way too much going on and isn't terribly focused. While Wicked had a moderately clear message it was trying to convey, I often felt lost as to the direction Son of Witch was going. Perhaps it was done intentionally by Maguire to help us feel just as uneasy and confused as Liir. If so, I think it went a little overboard. It also felt like many aspects of the text were there for shock value rather than substance since many of the actions and themes were just dropped in the reader's lap without any further discussion or contemplation by the narrative. The narrative style was a bit confusing at first, transitioning between current action and dream/coma flashbacks. I got used to that style fairly quickly, but then the coma ended...apparently before Maguire was done with the backstory, because the next many chapters continued the flashback tale even though Liir was no longer in his coma. It wasn't awful, just a little unsettling and felt like bad planning from the author. Once the backstory has finalized, Liir just seems to wander idly around Oz, picking up quest after quest, but not really focusing whole heartedly on any one task. He constantly behaves like a victim of circumstance, all the while bemoaning his fate and his lack of action. The main storyline, once extracted from all the extraneous threads in the book, was actually fairly interesting. Over the course of Liir's young life, Oz is transitioning between one political faction after another. While the changes of power are relatively free of violence, each new ruler brings new trials, disasters, repressions and violence. The flashback history while Liir's in a coma takes us through a couple of puppet governments (one almost literally with the Scarecrow...though "not Dorothy's Scarecrow") and finally leaving us with the Emperor. Liir becomes aware of the vile machinations of the Emperor and disagrees with the actions of the government. He helps uncover a mystery plaguing many travelers around Oz (a violent and tragic "face scraping" of travelers...which threatens to throw rival groups into war, or at least keep them from any form of peace). Liir even leads a small rebellion against the Emperor, but he really isn't motivated in this and just sort of wanders off. Generally, this book felt like it was trying to make a number of political and social statements but in the end it just felt like a statement about inaction, complacency and finding your own purpose. Any statement was muddled amid too many distractions. There were many great paragraphs and "sound bites" that would make for cool one-off quotes, but the ideas weren't lasting enough to help pull the book off. All of that said, I am still interested enough in the vivid and intriguing Oz that Maguire has crafted, such that I will likely seek out the third book (A Lion Among Men) to see what happens next. But sadly, my expectations have fallen a bit. *** 2.5 stars (out of 5)
brjunkie More than 1 year ago
Liir, the assumed son of the Wicked Witch of the West is found near death in the Vinkus, and is nursed by the maunt Sister Candle with a unique ability playing the domingon, guided by the mysterious Mother Yackle, (once again on the sidelines). Liir is a useless, not very bright, kinda plain and mundane boy who follows Dorothy back to Oz from Kiamo Ko, after the murder of the Witch. On their journey back to see the Wizard, Princess Nastoya begs Liir to promise to return to her, so that he may aid her in separating the Animal from the human in her. No matter how much he protests that he has no talent, and although he never admits that it is him doing it, he is able to fly the broom. (Dorothy's cruelty is more apparent in this sequel, as compared to "Wicked". She is mean to Liir, and annoyed by him being a part of their troop. She's kinda a bully to him.) Liir meets the Scarecrow, Lady Glinda, and Shell in his search for Nor. Liir returns to Kiamo Ko a couple of times, while on his search for Nor. And in his reunion with Nanny and Chistery, I found it hard to accept that Chistery was able to develop a working use of language. G.M. really touched and disturbed me when Liir witnesses the tragedy to the Piglet in Southstairs. Which was worse to me than what Shell was actually doing down there. I truly experienced the same feelings that Liir was going through. Liir is more suited to take orders and not question them. That is why he excels so well in the military. Commander Cherrystone attempts to be a father figure to Liir, (failing to raise him properly in my opinion, by putting orders ahead of doing the right thing). People's faces are being scraped off in the Vinkus, were the reader, (for Liir is not smart enough to figure this out for himself, he has everything told to him, always), discovers the result of the Wizard obtaining the torn page of the Grimmerie. Graffiti-ed in the Emerald City of Oz is "Elphaba Lives!" It raises the question, is the Wicked Witch of the West dead? The answer to this, and to whether or not Liir is the son of Elphaba, and does Liir possess the same talents as Auntie, is finally answered in the last 6 pages. (I'm very glad I revisited/read again this fantastic story!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read Wicked I was loving the musical. But when I got to the end of the book it felt like Maguire just gave up. It was still a good book so I decided to read the sequal, looking for awnsers. All it gave me was more questions, a scattered plot, and a confusing of showing love between characters. In the end I was pissed. He left it open with a sad excuse for an ending. And yet again gave up towards the end.
julie12332 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and an looking forward to the next installment. The writing style is wonderful and it is easy to get totally immersed in the world that Maguire has expanded upon. The story is wonderful however, the content is not appropriate for children (adult situations that may make some adults uncomfortable).
rmn125 More than 1 year ago
Though not quite as good as Wicked, I did enjoy reading Son of a Witch and seeing how the story continued. The ending kind of drops off a little bit and left me wondering what's going to happen next. I definitely plan on reading more of Gregory MaGuire!
Mystert More than 1 year ago
The story line was chaotic and aimless. The ending was pointless and left you wanting more. I felt like he was setting up a sequel more than delivering a compelling story.
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
The continuing saga. In keeping with the first of the series, this is definitely NOT for children. Again, some adult situations. A must read series fot the Wizard of Oz fan. This is a very long book with many areas of focus. Sometimes I found the story getting a bit confusing and off-track. Almost too much information. Probably would have been a much better book if it was a bit shorter and to the point. Still worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your money
Michael Chabot More than 1 year ago
This is probably the best one ever out there in these "Wicked" series, it's filled with mystery, a good pace, and finding who's your kin and who are you. If you a fan of Wicked which i hope you are! You'll madly fall in love with the stroyline and the bright charaters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think Son of a Witch came close to comparing with Wicked. It seemed to rely too much on the story line from Wicked while not developing much of a new story for a completely different story with a completely different character. The end of the book was a little dull for me, ending abruptly without much elaboration. Now, this isn't to say it's a horrible book - I still enjoyed it for the most part - I just think it was taken down a notch or ten when compared to Wicked. Hopefully A Lion Among Men will be better???
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you loved Wiked you are in for a treat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a slow read. The plot was odd and not very enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that, after reading the first book in the series (Wicked), it was slightly disappointing - but Wicked was quite exceptional, after all. Son of a Witch was a great book, it just couldn't quite compare to its predeceossor. All in all, though, it was a great part of the Wicked series.
jrgp More than 1 year ago
Son of a Witch or Lost in OZ... I expected more from the book than what I actually got out of it. Being the sequel of Wicked the majority of the characters were already formed but seemed to be lacking substance in this volume and if possible a bit less supported. I found the best part of this book to be the preview of this book found at the back of Wicked which by the way was Chapter One in this book word for word, leaving me to feel a bit taken aback, especially when there was no preview available for the next book in this serious. As for the writing style I overlooked the grammatical errors in Wicked attributing it to a new book and bad editing on the publishers end. The same problems in this existed and lead me to question if the book was edited at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With no expectation of the end like the first book, you are able to enjoy the story telling even more. The world of Oz takes on an independent aspect of it's own from the Baum version.
peleluna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not usually a fan of sequels, but found myself absorbed in this one. Maguire's prose is always impeccable and, this is no exception. Through the lense of OZ, he explores the horrors of soldiers being forced to obey orders and the subsequent fallout, the coming of age of Liir, and a host of other social and ethical issues. Definately engaging and true to the characters of Wicked.
LizD42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I really enjoyed Wicked I found Son of a Witch ok but one I could put down. It was nice to read the story after the Witch died and what happened to her son. I would recommend it as a nice completion to the fantasy.
jedimarri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In "Son of Witch" we follow the story of Liir, the boy who is probably Elphaba's (The Wicked Witch of the West) son. Nobody really knows for sure though, and he really struggles with his identity as a result. In fact, he usually just avoids all questions that are family related!After the death of Elphaba, Liir strikes out on his own, looking for his missing friend, and trying to figure out who he is in the process. Along the way he meets Princess Nastoya, Glinda, and even the Scarecrow! He also enrolls in the army for awhile, where he learns a lot, but eventually grows disgusted and leaves.Thing are developing politically in Oz during this book. They go through succession of leaders after the Wizard leaves, and the consequences to the people aren't always good. Liir becomes more a more integral part of this than he wants or would expect.I think I actually liked this book more than I did the first one. That could simply be because Maquire had more room to play here considering Liir is a new character to the Oz stories! It was interesting to see his nods to the original books though. I'm glad that I'm rereading the original series right now too :D
krizia_lazaro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Wicked" is a better book than the second installment of the "Wicked" series. It was still a very good story. It was very personal and sentimental. Elphaba still Lirr, surprisingly. It has the same political elements of "Wicked" but less political in a way. It was less romantic. In "Wicked", we have Elphaba and Fiyero, here we have a love triangle that was "unexplored", Candle - Lirr - Trism. I was surprised to read that Lirr is AC/DC. ;pDownside of this one is the inconsistencies of the characterizations. Liir was not so smart in the first book and I was shocked to read that he have managed quite well by himself. I thought he's going to be the romantic kind unlike Elphaba but he was just like her, sort of. He was so fickle and inconsistent along with Candle, Trism and Shell that I was a bit confused. I hated the cliffhanger ending. Where is Nor? Where is Candle? The whole book was about finding Nor then suddenly Nor takes a backseat and the Birds and the Elephant take the spotlight. As I said, INCONSISTENT. However, it is still a good read. I need to read the next one now if I want to know what happened to Candle and Nor.
BellaFoxx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A decade after the Wicked Witch dies, a young man is found barely alive in a gully. No one can figure out how he got there. He is taken to a mauntery and tended by Candle, silent but with a gift for music. She brings him back to life.The young man is Liir, he had been with the Witch when she died, he had been living with her for years. Believed to be her son but never proved. Through Liir¿s memories we go back in time, to cover the years in between and how he came to be broken and comatose, tossed away like yesterday¿s trash.Liir is looking for Nor, at the same time, due to the fact that many believe he is Elphaba¿s son he is asked to help the oppressed. Liir does not have the confidence in himself that other¿s do. Yet when he decides to do something, he sticks to it.This sequel introduces us to new characters while expanding on the old ones carried over. There are still questions, What happened to Dorothy?, The Tinman, Scarecrow and Lion. And what is going to happen to Oz with the land in turmoil and looking to boil over at any time?Gregory Maguire keeps the story going. I could only see one thing that differed from Wicked, so pretty good. The characters remained consistent to what we learned previously. This consistency lends credence to this account and makes it easy to pick up the story and keep going.
loveabletruth09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really loved the story Wicked, so when the sequel came out I was very excited to read it. Sadly, it was very disappointing. I had to really push through this story and my mind kept wandering, making it really difficult to understand what was going on. I felt sorry for this lost and broken boy but it was irritating to ALWAYS feel sorry for this lost and broken boy. I just couldn't get myself to like Liir or much of anyone except maybe Nor. The only good part was the ending where we finally find out that Liir is the son of Elphaba. Other than that I felt like I wasted my time. = /
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Meh. The easiest way to retain a reader is to set your story in an already rich, beloved, and iconic world. Maguire's Wicked Years books are most interesting in that they re-imagine Oz from the perspective of an adult who understands politics. I enjoy going back to a world that I loved as child and being reminded that there must have been some nastiness going on below the surface, so I read this and Wicked. I think I'm done now.Plot-wise and character-wise Son of a Witch does absolutely nothing of real value. All the characters feel stock, even though only a small handfull appeared in L. Frank Baum's novels. The plot was meandering and largely pointless, each event acting to drive a dull protagonist with an overly fractured personality. It feels like Liir is the center of the universe, though the universe can't seem to flow around him in any one direction for long. The sequence in the Emerald City prison would have made a hell of a short story, but the rest is largely fluff. I get that teenagers feel buffeted about and without direction, but Maguire overdoes it by miles.
fig2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sequel to Wicked, this novel follows Lir (Elphaba's son) as he embarks on a journey that leads him to battle, home and possibly love. Along the way, he discovers much about himself and is given an amazing gift.
MDLady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as Wicked. Too may smaller "stories" inside. I just wanted to read about Liir, Candle, and Trism. Would have been an awesome love triangle..but too much of everything else was going on. Too descriptive for me too.
the1butterfly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This took me a long time to get into- maybe because it's been almost a decade since I read "Wicked," and I'm not remembering much. There were a number of points where I really got into the story, but there were just as many where I was frustrated with Liir. I was really upset by the ending- there were too many things unsettled and unanswered and I hate my characters unhappy. I'm hoping book three will tie up things a bit.