This is one of the more enjoyable OZ books, for all that it also highlights some of the big problems the OZ books have. I think it’s so successful because there it is a voyage novel, rather than one where the characters try to solve a problem. Thus Baum’s problems with plot aren’t quite as evident here. And so long as you accept that it follows the formula of, characters form a party and go on various adventures then this novel is an easy read.
I do have problems with it though. The first is the continuity problems Baum has become quite blatant here. I’m not exactly sure how this was overlooked in the first publication, but for crying out loud Polychrome and The Shaggy Man were introduced in the SAME BOOK, The Road to OZ, so they know each other. Yet when they meet here, it’s like they don’t know each other at all. This bothered me a lot. The OZ novels have always had some minor continuity problems, but this is the first time where it’s this bad.
Secondly, I just plain don’t like The Shaggy Man. I just don’t. I never have, even when I was younger he bothered me. Now I’m bothered by the fact that he represents the obsession early 20th Century America had with hobos, an obsession that ended once the 30’s hit and poverty became a real problem. I also, and this is what bothered me when I was little, don’t like the love magnet. It pings every single one of my consent issues. I just don’t like the idea of an object causing anyone who looks on it to love the bearer of that object. It reeks of mind control. Particularly since The Shaggy Man uses it specifically to change people’s minds about him and his goals. Even if those people are evil, they still deserve the right to form opinions on their own and not be influenced by an outside force like The Love Magnet. And it’s crazy because in The Road to OZ, it seems as though Baum realizes this when he has Ozma put the love magnet over the gates of the Emerald City so that all who enter the city are loved and loving, and takes the magnet out of the hands of one individual. And yet, the Shaggy Man has it here in this story. Ick and also ew.
Tik-Toc of OZ was written as WWI was starting over in Europe, and it’s influence is felt here. And I almost think the novel was started before the war and then finished as it started. The character of Files is the reason I suspect this. When the novel starts he’s a bloodthirsty private ready to do his queen’s bidding and conquer the world, violence is his passion. But later he becomes nobler and more gentle, resigning his position as private because he doesn’t want to do violence to some characters. It’s quite a turn around the start of the novel.
One of my favorite OZ villains makes his appearance in this novel. The Gnome King, who drank from the waters of forgetfulness and supposedly became kinder in an earlier novel, is here up to his old evil tricks. The only evidence of the forgetting was a name change.
Baum also had to get around the spell that Glinda put up around OZ, but apparently if Glinda wants it to be non-effective she can do so. It’s convenient at any rate, and one way to get Baum around the wall he put around himself and these novels when he had Glinda do that.
I'm also not sure why it's Tik-Tok in the tittle as there were whole chapters in the book where I completely forgot he was in the novel.