Guide for Parents – Emerald Spectacles
Book Three: Emerald Spectacles
This review is based on the format used by Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org). This is not an official Common Sense Media review. The author created this review to give parents an idea of what the book contained, to determine whether or not it would be appropriate for their children to read.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is part of a prequel series to L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The character names are familiar, but the characters themselves are youthful and inexperienced. They make mistakes, get angry, and do things normal to young people, but very different from their older selves encountered in Baum’s books. The story takes place in the year 1854 A.D., forty-six years before Dorothy enters the Emerald City. Oscar is the Wonderful Wizard, and he has established the Emerald City based on the foundations of liberty, freedom, hard work, and responsibility.
The Land of Oz is in turmoil. Everything that was normal before is no longer normal during this time of change.
Characters are pushed to their limits as time is running out to save the life of the Wizard and save the land of Oz. When the characters reach their limits, they experience sorrow, frustration, and anger. These strong emotions are expressed at each other and at the situations. All of the outbursts are expressed in a way that is both appropriate and understandable for younger readers.
Discussions and examples of the proper use of power are found throughout the story. While some characters are happy with kings and queens ruling over the people with absolute power, others want each person to decide how they will live their own life. Freedom and liberty are held up as the ideals to which each person should aspire. However, many of the people would rather be comfortable and give up their freedom to a ruler who promises to protect them. Freedom and liberty take work to protect and preserve for oneself and for others. The author recognizes that different cultures approach the concept of freedom differently. This is explored in the story, as the different countries in Oz have different viewpoints on what it means to be free, to be be pure, and to be safe.
Many references to history are shared throughout the story. These provide examples of how to act. The characters have to learn from history so that they do not make the same mistakes as previous generations.
The main character, Glinda, learns from her grandfather’s journal. The process of reading her grandfather’s journal helps to bridge the generation gap. She realizes that she shares many of the same behaviors and habits as her grandfather, whom she has never met.
The characters need to figure out how to solve problems by using pieces of information to develop answers. They are given a certain amount of time in which to research in a library to find answers.
There are many positive messages included in the story of Emerald Spectacles. Characters show determination and courage when they face difficult situations. The main character keeps her word by returning the Silver Slippers, even when keeping them would have benefited her greatly. Other characters show loyalty to friends, even when it is unpopular or dangerous. A character shows mercy to the enemy of his friends, even though it causes his friends to question his judgement.
There are many mistakes made by the youthful heroes. They are young and full of life and energy, but they do not have much wisdom or life experience. Through their experiences, they learn how to make better choices. They learn that each choice has consequences. They also learn that following through and accomplishing goals creates strength and determination.
Characters use their knowledge, problem-solving skills, and cleverness to face a world that changes every minute. When the characters make mistakes, a mentor provides guidance. The mentor does not fix the problem, but rather guides the hero into making choices from the available options.
Positive Role Models
Glinda is a strong hero that shows dedication, perseverance, courage, and cleverness in pursuit of her goals.
Omby-Amby is a soldier that believes in the ideals of freedom, liberty, and loyalty. He displays loyalty to his friends and protects those who are in danger, even at the risk of losing the support or friendship of his closest friends.
Eyve is a young teenage girl who believes in helping others and standing up for what is right. She learns from the soldiers (the Fighting Girls) about following orders and supporting your leaders. She is willing to sacrifice her own life for those that she loves.
Ola Griffin struggles with amnesia. She has a good heart, and she does not try to hurt anyone. She works to save people, even after they have treated her badly. She is always willing to help, even though she cannot remember more than three things.
Promethus is an older man who calls himself The Guardian. He sacrifices his health, strength, and time to aid Glinda in her quest. He is a loyal mentor for the young sorceress. When the world around him is going crazy, his calm voice guides Glinda as she makes important decisions.
Human soldiers fight with monsters. Some soldiers are wounded. There are no descriptions of gore. A soldier wakes up with an arrow all the way through his heart. This is during a time where there is no death, so he does not die. A soldier is shot through the heart by a pistol. Two soldiers battle each other. One is stabbed in the stomach. Again, this is during the time where there is no death, so the character does not die.
During the time of chaos, there are looters and rioters on the streets of a large city. They steal from homes and burn anything that will burn. The violence is not described in detail. It is observed from a distance and criticized for its selfishness.
A character is frost-burned on her arms. Characters are knocked unconscious in an explosion.
A character’s finger is sliced at the tip by a razor-sharp shard of metal. The character’s body is dead. Description of the sluggish blood. When his heart starts beating again, the blood flows more freely, signifying that he is alive.
None of the characters truly die, though it is expressed that several have died. Most of the story takes place during a time of no death in Oz. The vast majority of the violence takes place “off-screen.” It is implied that there was violence during battles, but it is not shown on the page.
Romance / Sex
Two characters discuss the parents of another character. The mother is an older woman who raised a boy and then married him. This is referred to as a “mommy-wife” by one of the characters. (Note: This is consistent with L. Frank Baum’s original story of Gayelette and Quelala in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel, published in 1900.)
Two female characters are rivals for a male character’s attention. Two different females are rivals for a male soldier.
One young teenage girl is in love with an adult solder (a young man, about 20 years old). She follows him across the land to prove her love. When she is offered the chance to leave, she refuses. The man’s father promises her marriage to his son if she brings him back. The son does not reciprocate the girl’s feelings. This romance is a case of puppy love with long-term ramifications.
Docket, the new King of the Winged Monkeys, uses awkward language and phrases (pidgin English) when he talks with Omby-Amby. However, he speaks much more eloquently when he addresses the other Winged Monkeys. This is a known issue. The explanation from the author is simply that it is easier to communicate in one’s own language, rather than communicating complex thoughts in a non-native language.
A female character calls another female a wench.
There may be large or unfamiliar words for the reader. Each reader is encouraged to try to figure out the meaning of the words through context. If that does not work, the reader is encouraged to use a dictionary to look up the meaning of the unfamiliar word, and to understand why it was used in that context. A glossary is provided in the appendix.
One character takes a bag full of pearls and runs away, happy that she is now the richest person in all of Oz. She is reprimanded for her actions.
Another character takes some of the treasures of the kings so that she can be wealthy and covered with sparkling things.
Two characters are more concerned with ensuring that the treasures are safely hidden for their historical value, rather than for their monetary value.
Drinking, Drugs, and Smoking
After a character teleports, she is disoriented, and she compares this feeling of being off-balance to the time that she drank too much splatberry wine at her father’s birthday party.
What is the Story?
The third book in the Hidden History of Oz series. This intense, imaginative story continues the adventure from Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer as it spans the magical land of Oz and delves into the mysterious conjoined dreamlands. To save the Wizard, and to preserve the Land of Oz, Glinda must join forces with her mortal enemy, forge a coalition of dangerous Witches, battle those that she once considered friends, and challenge the immutable forces of time and magic.
In this spellbinding conclusion to the Glinda trilogy, time is running out for the Wizard. If he dies with his soul in the dreamlands, the Land of Oz will be host to his nightmares forever. However, success only guarantees survival, not a happy ending. Each character gets the ending and reward that they have earned over the course of the story.
Is it any good?
Glinda is a strong-willed heroine who battles through any and all obstacles to accomplish her goals. This is portrayed both positively and negatively in the story. Glinda shows determination and ingenuity as she faces impossible tasks, but she also disregards the feelings and safety of her friends. Both good and bad examples of behavior are demonstrated to show the reader the consequences of Glinda’s actions. Glinda’s determination is also displayed as stubbornness as she pushes forward with her goals no matter who gets in her way. She loses friends in her efforts to accomplish her goal.
The story is rich in detail for both the world of Oz and the dreamlands, where Oscar (the Wizard) is wandering while his body is dying in the waking world. Trying to keep all of the details straight for the different realms, and for the different points in history described for each of the realms, can be a challenge.
This is the third book in the trilogy, and there are a lot of characters and plot threads that come together. The overall story is rewarding, but there are a lot of stories to balance while it all ties up at the end. This may be a challenge for some readers.
Emerald Spectacles is an imaginative story that follows strong characters throughout their intense struggles to solve a problem and save a friend before time runs out. The story is bittersweet in that the ending is not happy for the characters, but each character has the reward that fits their actions.
Families can talk about
What are some ways that Glinda gathers information to help her solve problems? How can you use these different ways to gather information to solve your problems?
Glinda loves to be in the library. Why does she like books? What things did Glinda learn about herself as she was reading her grandfather’s journal? How can books help us learn about our family? Why is history important to know?
Kally chooses to help Glinda, despite being a Wicked Witch. Why does she stay with Glinda? Kally believes that you can judge the quality of a person by the strength of their enemies. Why does she believe this? Could the statement be turned around to judge a person by the quality of their friends? How would that have changed the relationship between Kally and Glinda? Kally accuses Glinda of acting selfishly and being wicked. Is this an accurate statement? Why or why not? How do Kally’s actions lead to her final reward at the end of the story?
Eyve is told that she is too young to join the Fighting Girls. How does she prove that she is capable? What were some of the learning experiences Eyve had while traveling with the Fighting Girls? What did Eyve learn about difficult tasks by carrying the swords from the battlefield?
Omby-Amby showed his loyalty to his friend, Oscar, in many ways. What were some of those ways? How was this loyalty viewed by the other soldiers? How was it viewed by Glinda and the Witches? Who trusted Omby-Amby? Why or why not? What did Omby-Amby do at the end of the story to demonstrate his loyalty?
The Onyx Labyrinth is meant to test individuals by showing them their shadows. In this context, what is a shadow? How did Omby-Amby navigate through the labyrinth? How was this different than Glinda navigating through? Which way would you prefer to face your own shadows? How can you do this?
Wickrie-Kells learns how to hear the whispers of the land, and that gives her magic. In what ways was she unprepared for this power? What was the result of her actions? How did her actions affect the relationships with her friends and family? Based on what you know of Wickrie-Kells, what do you think she will do about the offer from Promethus to help her remove the magic lines?
When Glinda casts the spell to turn over the Giant Hourglass, she runs out of time to find answers. Why did Glinda act without permission? What were the consequences for her action? How did this decision affect Glinda’s actions for the remainder of the story?
Kally makes fun of Locasta because Kally thinks that Locasta doesn’t know how to read very well. Why did Kally treat Locasta like this? How did Locasta’s response show that she was a better person?
Oscar has run away from his past and the things that he could not deal with. Was this a good thing for him to do? What things was Oscar afraid of? How did his journey through the dreamlands help him to find answers? By dropping the coin in the dreamlands, Oscar lost something important. What did he lose? Why was that so important to him? What things are important to you? Do you treat them casually or with respect? When Oscar ran away from his past, did he leave it behind? How did he carry the past with him? Why did Oscar refer to his past as shadows?
Bonus: Why did the author choose these questions?
Author: Tarl Telford
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Adventure
Topics: Adventure, Betrayal, Coming of Age, Fantasy, Loyalty, Magic
Book Type: Fiction
Publisher: Emerald Engine Studios
Publication Date: March 5, 2015
Number of Pages: 359, excluding Appendix of 108 pages
Publisher’s Recommended Ages: 12 and up
Available on (platforms): Paperback, digital