Abadazad Book 3: the Puppet the professer and the prophet

November 22nd, 2008 by

Florence wrote a while back that stories about faerie changelings were her literary comfort food.   Now I am going to discuss mine.  The magic land tale, it is a close cousin of the changeling tale, and they are often intertwined.  The definition of a magic land tale for me is is not simply a story that takes place in another world that is more fantastical than ours ie: Middle Earth, or Loyd Alexander’s Prydain.  The essential ingredient to a magic land tale for me, is that the protagonist, most often a young or adolescent girl (though sometimes it’s a boy or a group of children) is from our world or at least our world as was when the tale was written.  The formula varies but the ones I am most familiar with has the protagonist unintentionally transported to a strange new world, and once there she will make strange new friends, embark on some sort of quest often to procure her way home, and prove herself in ways she could not have dreamed.  That is a magic land tale to me, and like Florence with her changelings I will read any book or watch any movie that seems to adhere to this formula in some way, and I am rarely disappointed by result.

Before I get into the story the Abadazad books tell, I’ll tell the story of the books.   And probably rant a bit. Feel free to skip is part if you are only interested in the content of the story, I will get to that eventually.  I first became aware of them about five years ago, which was before thay were even books.  I came across article about a new comic book series by J.M. DeMatteis that was firmly rooted in the magic land tradition.  J. M. DeMatteis is the author of one of my all time favorite books (comic or otherwise) Moonshadow, add in a magic land and I was sold before the first issue ever came out.  Unfortunately after just three issues had come out, and just as the story had gotten rolling, the company relaeasing Abadazad, Crossgen went out of business.  Cut to two years later while browsing the all ages section of my local comic shop where I find Abadazad volumes one and two, and imediatly snap them up.  It seems once Crossgen was defunct DeMatteis and artist Mike Ploog shopped them around eventually selling the rights to Disney’s publishing division, where it was decided to reformat them as a series of short novels aimed at children ala the Spiderwick Chronicles.  After plowing through the first two volumes (book one basically being a retelling of issues 1 through 3, book two containing unbefore published materiel) I preordered the third volume on Amazon.  Six months later I got an email informing me the order was cancelled since the book was not being published. I figured that was that.  But perhaps a year later I found book three for sale on Amazon once again, so again I ordered it.  And It arrived this summer.  A few days ago I read it, and was sucked in all over again.  So I went to Amazon to see if and when book 4 would be out.  I found a title for a fourth book but no date for publication.  So I finally did a search for information on what was going with these books.  It seems that the series was planned to be around ten books long, but after the first two did not sell up to expectations, book three was delayed and then published only oversees. Then the series was completely cancelled with at least one more book written but unpublished.  Suffice to say I am bit upset I went to trouble to find book three with very little chance of ever getting to the ultimate conclusion.  I also feel that Disney did little to support the series in the first place.  After all, if someone like me who was allready sold on the series did not know it was being published untill I found it at an independent store, how was anyone new going to become aware of it.  I never saw it at any of the big chains.  Just after the cancellation anouncement there was talk of returning it to comic book form, but nothing official has been announced since then.  I guess I will just have to be content that it will remain open ended.

And that is a shame because as far as magic land tales go, this one manages to be entirely it’s own, while paying homage to many that have come before.  It centers on a thirteen year old girl named Kate, who is an loner with a sad past.  Maybe it was Kate’s bitter, antisocial attitude that scared off potential readers (or their parents), although this not an entirely new archetype for the magic land protagonist (Meg Murry holla!).  Kate’s troubles stem, mostly, from the disappearance five years earlier of her younger brother Matty.  Before he disappeared Matty was Kate’s constent companion and only friend.  Matty had loved the Abadazad books a {fictional} series of children’s book from the turn of the century that seem to have been inspired by the Oz series. Even the name of the Abadazad author Franklin O’ Davies appears to be a tribute to Oz’s creator L. Frank Baum, and an indirect reference to J.M. Barrie, who was inspired to write Peter Pan by the Davies family.  Once Matty disappears Kate withdraws from the world and rejects the trappings of childhood, especially any thing to do with Abadazad.  Naturally she finds herself transported there, with aid from her very old, some what batty neighbor who claims to be the actual Little Martha, the sweet as sugar herione of the books.  Once there she finds that Davies changed quite a few details to make the books more palatable, and the inhabitants do not look like the illustrations she grew up with.  She also discovers that Matty is being held prisoner there.  Finding him is the ultimate goal of the books, but there are many freinds to make, and villains to thwart on the way.  It is a classic magic land adventure yet it feels fresh.  If I have a complaint, other than the publishing woes, it would be the art.  Mike Ploog’s illustrations  are inventive, and vibrant but his style is very cartoonish, which feels a bit out of place in book which so tries to invoke classic children’s literature.  I feel like the job might be better to suited to someone like P.Craig Russell, or Charles Vess.  Also at times we get to see pages from the original Davies books, and Ploog does these illustrations as well, he changes the look of the charecters, but the tone does not seem all that differnt from what we see of the real Abadazad.  These though are minor quibbles for me though, and he has done a great job bringing both the human and Zadians to life.  I just hope they story is finished somehow.

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14 Responses to “Abadazad Book 3: the Puppet the professer and the prophet”

  1. Martin Says:

    Huh. This does sound interesting. Especially the aspect where it’s paying homage to the other magic land books that came before it. I feel as though I’ve sort of grown out of the magic land genre, but I definitely went through a period in my life where I too would read anything that seemed to be in the vein. Alice in Wonderland came immediately to mind, but Florence pointed out The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is also solidly of that genre, and I’ve read that series more than any other over the years. (At least I think that is still true.)

    Oz is obviously another great example. I’ve never actually read the books, but I’ve had them on my “list” for years. Another favorite is The Neverending Story, in both movie and book form, and I’ll bet the movie The Labyrinth fits nicely in the genre also. Wow, so many childhood favorites with such a similar basic premise. Did we really just want to escape that much when we were young? I suppose the same is true now, we just escape to different places…

  2. Susie Says:

    I can lend you the books, but only if you can deal with no possible conclusion.

    Off the top of my head all the magic land tales I can think of:
    the Oz series (i have only read the first two)
    The Alice series
    the Narnia series
    Peter Pan
    the Labyrinth
    Neverwhere (I guess Neil likes the magic land tale too)
    Never Ending Story
    A Wrinkle in Time
    Many Waters
    Pan’s Labyrinth (sorta)
    And if you allow scifi then also Farscape and the Hitchhikers trilogy

    I really am drawn to this genre. I am sure there are a lot more

  3. Michael Says:

    I have been looking everywhere for book number 3 for my son to read as he loves books 1 and 2. If you could send book 3 to me just to borrow I promise to return it to you in great shape within a few days as he reads fast and will pay for your shipping. Haven’t been able to find a copy anywhere since well before Christmas when this quest began. Thanks, Michael

  4. Sasha Says:

    Im 12 years old and just got sucked into the book ive read one and two but have looked at countless book stores in victoria even in queensland (Australia) to find number three till tonight I read it was only published in England I am looking for number three but have turned my focus into geting the comics but with little comic stores in my area it is extremly hard! I was absolutly shatterd to hear that it is not being published anymore and dissapointed that diseny didnt do there best to support these books 🙁 p.s I would also like to thank you for helping get more of an insit of what is actuly going on wish me luck!

  5. Susie Says:

    Looks like amazon has a few used copies. Good luck!

  6. Caitlin Says:

    I was just at Amazon; as my daughter & I just finished book #2. We tried Barnes & Noble first with no success. The ones at Amazon are $48.09!
    You’d think with all the buzz on all sorts of sites, there would at least be a US run of #3.

  7. FlNN Says:

    I also need the 3 book because i loved book 1 and 2 but since i live in australia they haven`t got it.
    I can`t get it off a shop online because it costs $289 dollars but thanks for telling me more about the books.
    And giving me more books to read like these OZ books you`ve been talking about,I`ve never herd of them.
    thanks again.

  8. danisha Says:

    this book be awesome if i could read it i look all over 2 find book #3 but i cant

  9. danisha Says:

    well still cant find 1 it would b awesome if i could read it but i cant find 1

  10. olivia Says:

    I finished reading #2 like 2 years ago, and i only found out last week that that #3 is only in england, and i’m in Australia. i looked it up on wikipedia. why would they only they only publish it in england?!?! 🙁

  11. Michelle Says:

    I would really like the new book published and delivered at any book store here in the Philippines I have the two books already and I’m excited in reading more of this story pls. reply to my email as soon as you accept this…THANK YOU! 😉 keep up the good work!

  12. Amanda Says:

    I read both first books and i keep reading them over and over again because i cant find the 3rd! I NEED IT! I WANT TO KNO WHAT HAPPENS! and so far the only one i’ve found was 117$ -.- They really need to make some down here in Canada.

  13. Polly Says:

    I love all the books “Abadazad” very much ))) And this book was very interesting for me! So, i will read it many times!

  14. Tricia Says:

    Finally Abadazad 3, I was heart broken and my children also when we realized 2 years ago that Abadazad 3 was not written. I will try to get a copy when I go to Irealnd this Summer and bring back some to Canada and US. We loved the first 2 books!