This third book in the Wicked Years follows the interrogation of Yackle by Brrr, the Cowardly Lion, regarding her interest in and dealings with Elphaba, from Wicked.  Specifically, he has been tasked with finding any information on the whereabouts of Elphaba’s book of magic, the Grimmerie, for the Emperor of Emerald City, Shell, Elphaba’s half-brother.

There is an impending battle between the Munchkinlanders and Emerald City warriors to be staged outside the Cloister of Saint Glinda, where Yackle lives out her last days, trying to find a way to die. Much of the book is a pondering of Brrr’s life story by himself, as Yackle only agrees to talk with a spilling of his own tale. She wants to gain a measure of his character and motivation, to see whether he can be trusted with the knowledge she has to offer. There is also discussion of her life, of which she claims to have no childhood, that she was born old. She seems to believe that her sole purpose has been to watch over Elphaba, and by extension, Liir, from Son of a Witch.

As with Son of a Witch, I have mixed feelings about the book. It’s not a feel good series overall. I like Maguire’s style of writing, but not everything he throws into the mix. I had hoped that there would be more delving into the concept of Animals, animals with language capability. The book just touches on it. Brrr’s story is sad. He is a Lion without a family, trying to fit into several groups, almost gaining success, and then thrown out each time, usually because of a lack of understanding by the group. In fact, all three books of the series to this point have this similar view of always being on the outside. Elphaba was fine with that, Liir and Brrr less so. In this book, I found Yackle to be the redeeming character, and in the end, Nor, Liir’s half-sister. The ending is uplifting, and likely Brrr, Nor, and Liir will be a part of the concluding book, Out of Oz. Brrr is said to be on the run again, so maybe this time he will redeem himself.