The Straw King (Dorothy Must Die #0.5)
The Straw King tells the story of how Scarecrow stopped being the King of Oz. From other books in the series, we learn that Scarecrow stops being king because Ozma shows up and since she is the rightful ruler of Oz, Scarecrow renounces the throne to her. The Straw King takes a long-winded, dramatic journey to show how Ozma ended up with the throne. What really irked me about this novella is how some of the details seemed to contradict each other, but the contradictions were ignored for the sake of drama. For example, the characters repeatedly say that no one has ever tried to usurp the throne and yet Scarecrow is able to consult a book on despots. A book that’s so current it tells Scarecrow that Jinjur, the general of the attackers, has always wanted the throne and has never liked the Wizard, Scarecrow, Lion, or Tin. Isn’t that a bit too convenient and unusual? Jinjur can’t express to Scarecrow why he is an unfit ruler, but there’s a whole book “explaining” her motives and the motives of people like her, yet this has never happened before. Plus Jinjur and her army have guns and a moped. I never knew Oz had such weapons and if there are vehicles in Oz, why does everyone walk (sometimes fly) places? Why not just buy/rent a vehicle and get places faster?
Another discrepancy that bothered me is when Scarecrow is on his way to the Forest of Beasts and interacts with a Munchkin girl, Hibiscus Lemon. Hibiscus mentions that she doesn’t mind if the Wizard, Scarecrow, or Ozma rule Oz, but at this point in the story, Hibiscus should not think there is a possibility of Ozma ruling. She should still think that Ozma was killed when she was young. This isn’t a significant detail but it still bothered me.
Nonetheless, it is still interesting to see Glinda’s plan unfold.
“… the trick isn’t to be on the throne- it’s to be behind it…. Kings and queens come and go, but power stays with the powerful. You don’t have to be the King of Oz to rule it.” – Glinda
For those who watch Scandal, Glinda is the Cyrus of the Dorothy Must Die series; she’s willing to do whatever it takes to have power and control the throne (Oz’s oval office).
Overall, The Straw King isn’t much better than Heart of Tin. It’s less sappy, but Scarecrow has his own annoying characteristic (his need to be reassured that he is clever).