Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2)Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

this is a re-read for me–i read it a few years ago when it first came out, after having been blown away by Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

when i first read Son of a Witch, i felt fairly dissatisfied with it. i mean, here’s this guy with birthright up the wazoo, this guy should be a firebrand, he should rally all the right-thinking of Oz and send the Bad Guys on the shinkansen to hell, right? but no. he sort of gets blown from place to place, from quest to quest, and never seems to manage to bring anything to its right conclusion. i mean, he can’t even be an agent in the genesis of his own daughter! down for the count when his lady gets knocked up.

and i found that horribly unfulfilling. i wanted a hero, but i got Liir.

this time around, though, i felt rather different about it. probably because i have spent some time thinking about what a hero is, what heroism is.

and on the second read, Liir strikes me as very, very heroic.

here’s this guy, not even sure who his mother is, reared by people who sort of make sure he is fed and educated, but who pay more attention to sewing wings on monkeys than they ever do to him. and then he’s tossed out into the world very young, with no idea whatsoever what to do with his life.

and then people keep insisting he pick up the mantle of the Wicked Witch, which he isn’t even sure is his to pick up, even if he wanted to.

what does that sound like? it sounds like life. (well, except for the sewing wings on part. that would be a stretcher.) to insist that Liir be all rock-jawed and steely-eyed would be cruel. it never occurred to me that we readers can be a vicious lot, insisting that characters be so much better than we ourselves are.

so, Liir, here’s to you, and your meandering path to quasi-glory. you may not be the Rambo of Oz, but you’re still a damned sight better than most of us.