Lurline and the White Ravens of Oz is a modern-day Oz novel, written and illustrated by Marcus Mebes. The book was originally published in 1990; Mebes revised and re-issued the work in both 1995 and 2008.
The 2008 edition of the book is available from Lulu.com, and can be downloaded for free.
Mebes gives a complex mythology for Lurline, which blends aspects of several world cultures. In the book's opening chapter, Polychrome describes the fairy queen as
- "...actually a goddess! Honest to goodness. On Mount Olympus itself!...She was also Asgardian...Lorelei. She was Loorlinut, a netjeret of the Ennead in Egypt, and she was Senna, of Harlus."
Loorlinut is Mebes' creation, a female Egyptian version of the elephant-headed Ganesha of Hindu mythology. He also supplements the Greek gods with figures from other myths, like Lilith. He draws upon a wide range of inspirations; he makes Peaseblossom, from A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of Lurline's fairies.
Mebes favors a three-syllable pronunciation of the fairy queen's name, the final syllable voiced in a Greek fashion, as with the names Dike and Hebe, Eirene and Amphitrite. Interestingly, Mebes classifies Lurline as a "mortal" prior to her elevation to goddess, though she was already a fairy queen.
In Mebes' schema, Ozma and her cousins Ozga and Ozana are relatives of Lurline, and also of Polychrome and her family. (Elsewhere in his works, Mebes casts Lurline as the sister of Zurline.) Polychrome and her rainbow sisters turn out to be the daughters of the Greek goddess Iris. The "white ravens" of the title is a metaphor for Lurline's fairy band.
(Mebes stresses the point that time on Olympus is plastic, not rigid; his story might seem to imply that Lurline's enchantment of Oz occurred around the time of the Trojan War, though this is not necessarily the case.)
Princess Ozma conducts a tea party in her royal palace; the girl ruler entertains Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and two visitors, Polychrome and Handy Mandy. While serving the tea, Jellia Jamb listens attentively to the conversation. The talk shifts to Queen Lurline and the legends surrounding her. Polychome tells a long tale of how Lurline was promoted to the pantheon of the ancient Greek gods — and how she fell from that elevation after a single day.
At the time of the Trojan War, the Greek gods are not yet in the habit of welcome lower beings into their pantheon. Lurline is a test case, a probationary member. The sun god Apollo falls in love with Lurline and asks her to marry him — and the fairy queen agrees. As they survey the world below, the two look down on what will become the land of Oz, and they see the king of that place confronting a fierce serpent — Quiberon of later Oz lore. Apollo does not wish to interfere, since the people of this land do not worship the Greek gods; but Lurline cannot resist the urge. She has one of her fairies supply King Oz with an enchanted tree branch that functions as a spear; the king wounds the monster and saves himself.
That night, while all the gods of Olympus are sleeping off their wine, Lurline borrows some of their gifts — Apollo's chariot and horses, and some of Iris's rainbow light, Lilith's fire, and Kole's crystals — and uses them to work her grand enchantment on the land of Oz. The next morning, Zeus announces the "theft" (Lurline has been watched and informed upon by Mnemosyne, goddess of memory), and he decrees that the thief must be punished. Lurline is expelled from Olympus and confined to a subterranean cavern in Oz, and her fairy band is scattered.
At the end of her tale, though, Polychrome stresses that her account is legend and myth, not history. This leaves Dorothy dissatisfied; she makes further attempts to learn about Lurline. Visiting King Randy and Queen Planetty in Regalia, she hears that Lurline might have come from Atlantis. Planetty tells a vague tale of the people of her home world, Anuther Planet, having a possible Atlantean connection too. Polychrome tells another tale, of a woodcutter enchanted into a tree by Zurline, queen of the wood nymphs of Burzee; and Kabumpo tells his own tale, about how the elephants fled ancient Egypt under the guidance of the goddess Loorlinut.
In the end, Dorothy is left with confused and contradictory materials (and she hasn't yet learned about Lurline's connections with the Rhein maiden Lorelei and Senna of Harlus). Dorothy resolves to write a book about Lurline, and use her notes as the first volume. In the story's final scene, Handy Mandy is returning to Keretaria with her friend Nox the ox; and she mentions that the Keretarians have their own version of the Lurline legend...which remains to be told.
Mebes presents a picture of Dorothy that is somewhat different from the concepts of earlier writers. Though she may not have changed physically, Dorothy has been educated at Prof. Wogglebug's college, and is more curious, more literate, and more logical (in both positive and negative ways) than she was as a little girl. She can even be slightly pedantic at times; she interrupts tales with questions and objections. During the opening scene and after, Dorothy is the one who takes detailed notes on what she hears, and then resolves to turn her notes into a history of Lurline.
The Oz literature
In Chapter 2 of the novel, Mebes refers to several other modern Oz books that contribute to the framework of his story. These are: