The success of Ozma of Oz, reflected in the letters he received from thousands of children, convinced Baum that he had become a prisoner of his own creation. Not that he minded; he was overjoyed that so many children were delighted with his work. But he wanted to write about other fantastical places, and in his fourth Oz book he managed to sneak some in.
Once more, Dorothy Gale traveled to magic realms, this time with another of the characters which Baum was obliged by his readers to bring back: the wonderful Wizard himself. This is hardly a spoiler, given the title of the book: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.
The tale starts soon after Ozma of Oz; Dorothy and Uncle Henry had gone from Australia to California, and while Dorothy stayed with friends in San Franciso, Henry went to the ranch of Aunt Em’s brother-in-law Bill Hugson. As the story opens, Dorothy arrived by train at Hugson’s Siding, where she and her new kitten Eureka were met by Hugson’s nephew Zebediah, or “Zeb” for short, and his scrawny horse Jim.
As they rode along in the carriage, a massive tremor opened the ground underneath them. The buggy was soon falling, but very slowly, down towards strange lights. Dorothy saw seven large, glowing balls, like miniature suns, each shining a different color. Then Jim spoke, and Dorothy knew they were in fairyland.
The buggy landed on top of a glass building in a city in an underground kingdom, lit by the ever-shifting colored lights. Thanks to Eureka, who of course was now also able to speak, they discovered that they were all but weightless, and stepped off the building to reach the ground below, where they met the land’s inhabitants.
These were the Mangaboos, an attractive but expressionless race whose Prince demanded that the strangers be taken before their Sorcerer to determine whether they caused the “Rain of Stones” which had damaged their buildings.
The Sorcerer Gwig, as shameless a humbug as ever there was, and the only ugly Mangaboo, had made many false predictions, but managed to talk himself out of them. Now he confidently told the Prince there would be no more stones or people falling.
Just then, stones fell, and in their midst, a hot air balloon! The Wizard and Dorothy were reunited, but Oz soon found himself battling Gwig, whose status was now in peril. After various sleight-of-hand tricks, including the Wizard making nine tiny piglets appear, Gwig worked some real magic and started to asphyxiate the Wizard.
Fearing for his life, Oz assembled a sword and cut Gwig in two, revealing him to be a vegetable, as were all Mangaboos. They showed Our Friends the bushes upon which Mangaboos grew and were plucked from when ready to enter society.
When they noticed that the Prince’s successor on the Royal Bush, a beautiful princess, looked ripe, he ordered Oz’s friends destroyed.