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"The most precious stones in all the world are down within here; my Underground-Domain, all made for me, by my loyal Nomes. So imagine how I feel when someone from the world up above comes along and steals my treasures? --All those emeralds in the Emerald City, really belonged to me, I was just taking back what was mine to begin with..."
―The Nome King speaking to Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz (1985)

King Of Nomes

The Nome King in Return to Oz. 1985.

"Don't you know that Eggs are...poison, poison, poisonous to Nomes...? "
―Nome King Return to Oz (1985)
"Like much of the time, the Nome King was in an angry mood, and at such times he was very disagreeable. All of his subjects kept away from him, even his Chief Steward Kaliko. Therefore the King stormed and raved all by himself, walking up and down in his glittering jewel-studded cavern and getting angrier and angrier by the minute. Then he remembered that it was no fun being angry, unless he had someone to frighten and make miserable. So without a second thought, he furiously rushed to his giant gong of solid gold, and gave it a big hard hit with his gem encrusted scepter, to make it bang and clatter as loud as it possibly could. "

The Emerald City of Oz (1910)

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The Nome King is a fictional character created by L. Frank Baum, author and inventor of the Oz legacy. He is introduced in Baum's third Oz book titled Ozma of Oz, published in 1907. He is portrayed as the impatient, stubborn and power-hungry ruler of the Nomes (sometimes spelled "Gnomes"). In Baum's writings, the Nome King and his people are a species of immortal beings who have adapted to living hundreds of miles below the earth and rarely surface. They are from the same continent where the magical Land of Oz lies and the Land of Ev can be found. There the Kingdom of Nomes neighbors both of these countries. Interestingly, chicken eggs are highly poisonous to the Nome race, much like how water was fatal to the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900.

"I've lost my Magic Belt. That annoying little girl named Dorothy Gale who was here with that preposterous Princess Ozma of Oz, stole my Magic Belt and carried it away with her," said the King, grinding his teeth with rage. "But your Majesty, aren't you forgetting, the two captured it in a fair fight," Kaliko ventured to say. "But I want it! I must have it! Half my power is gone without that Magic Belt, and I want it back, now!" roared the King. "You will have to go to the Land of Oz to recover it, and your Majesty can't get to Oz in any possible way," said the Steward, yawning because he had been on duty ninety-six hours, and was very sleepy. "Why not?" Groaned the King. "Because there is a vast Deadly Desert all around that country, which no one is able to cross. You know that fact as well as I do, your Majesty. Never mind the lost Belt. You have plenty of power left, for you rule this underground kingdom like a tyrant, and thousands of loyal Nomes obey your every command. I advise you to drink a nice warm glass of hot melted silver, to quiet your nerves, and then take a little nap." The Nome King grabbed a big ruby jewel nearby and threw it straight at Kaliko's head! "

The Emerald City of Oz (1910)

The Nome King speaks to Dorothy in Return to Oz 1985.

The Nome King appears in Baum's sequel Oz books as one of the most relevant and significant villains and antagonist. He is portrayed as a very lazy king who usually spends his time sitting upon his jeweled throne, next to a furnace, smoking his pipe and ranting and raving as he thinks of ways to overthrow the neighboring Kingdom of Oz. He is extremely short tempered, to the point of throwing his jewels at his advisors (as shown above) or sentencing dissenting generals to death. Once defeated by Ozma, he never gives up on the idea of taking over Oz and all its people to enslave them and bring them all back to his mountain to work underground for him forever.

Eggs are poisonous to Nomes!

In some versions the Nome King is also sometimes called the "Metal Monarch" due to his love for metal minerals and his collection of metal treasures. The most well-known Nome King's name was originally Roquat the Red, or Roquat of the Rocks; his name was later changed to Ruggedo in later Oz books.

Baum's Nome King of Nome Mountain

There was also a different kind of Nome King, spelled "Gnome", that appeared in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus By L. Frank Baum. This may be Roquat earlier in his life, or else his ancestor, or possibly a different Nome entirely from another fantasy realm, as he is never identified by name. This Gnome King provided Santa Claus with steel runners for his sleigh, and sleigh-bells for his reindeer. In return he received a collection of toys for his children. He was part of the Council of Immortals who bestowed upon Santa Claus the Mantle of Immortality and was the first to cast his vote. (The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus)

The King of Nome Mountain.

The Nome King's mountain and Oz are separated by the Deadly Desert. In the Mountain, deep underground, the Nome King dwells with all of his loyal Nome subjects and servants. His Kingdom is a large and vast cavern with hundreds of rooms and walkways, all with high domed ceilings which are always beautifully lit by glowing gems, stones, gold, and silver.

"The Nome King took the King Scarecrow and all of the emeralds back to his mountain, and turned everyone else to stone..."

Mombi in Return to Oz (1985)

The Nomes live by making and refining jewels, gems, and precious metals, and resent the "Upstairs-People", who are constantly digging deep down and making big tunnels in the Nome Kingdom to retrieve all those valuables to sell without the Nome Kings permission. In his underground Kingdom, the Nome King has an entire room dedicated to his collection of china vases, porcelain plates, gold plated jeweled eggs, solid gold and silver furniture, polished marble statues, expensive paintings, ornate music boxes, etc. Some of these, though not all, represent prisoners transformed by him into trinkets.

Nome King's Ornament room in Return to Oz.

History Of The Infamous Nome King


Roquat/Ruggedo

The Nome King

Main Article: Ruggedo

The next known Nome King was called Roquat of the Rocks. He was a cruel, round little ruler who could seem decent at first, but who ruled through fear and trickery. He had purchased the Royal Family of Ev from King Evoldo in exchange for a long life, and turned them into ornaments to decorate his palace. Princess Ozma, Dorothy Gale, and a party from the Emerald City freed the royal family and, in the process, seized Roquat's Magic Belt. (Ozma of Oz)

Roquat had his subjects dig a tunnel under the Deadly Desert while his general, Guph, recruited a host of evil spirits to conquer Oz. Fortunately, at the moment of invasion Roquat tasted the Water of Oblivion and forgot his enmity and his name. (The Emerald City of Oz)

He later returned to the Nome Kingdom, where he regained his memories and took the new name of Ruggedo. Once there, he enslaved the Shaggy Man's Brother, a miner from Colorado. The Shaggy Man, with the help of Betsy Bobbin, the Oogaboo army, and some of Dorothy's old friends came to his rescue, and Ruggedo dropped them down the Hollow Tube. Quox the dragon conquered Ruggedo using an enchanted ribbon to deprive Ruggedo of all his power. Ruggedo was forced into exile, and his former chamberlain, Kaliko, was installed as the new king. However, Kaliko agreed to let Ruggedo stay as long as he behaved, which he agreed to. (Tik-Tok of Oz)

In the years that followed, Ruggedo left the Nome Kingdom again (presumably at Kaliko's orders), and recruited Kiki Aru, a Munchkin youth illegally practicing the art of shape-changing, and the two of them went in disguise to Oz in search of supporters. They were captured by the Wizard when he overheard Kiki Aru's magic word and used it against them, and forced to drink the Water of Oblivion again and remain in the Emerald City. (The Magic of Oz).

Kaliko

King Kaliko is bribed by King Gos and Queen Cor.

Main Article: Kaliko

Kaliko, unlike his predecessor, maintained a friendship with Oz. While he was generally a more decent person than Ruggedo, he felt pressured by his position and by the Nomes to engage in wars and cruel acts. He tried to avoid offending the people of Oz, but this proved impossible when Dorothy Gale saw him being cruel to Prince Inga of Pingaree and his companions, and this soured relations. (Rinkitink in Oz)

Kaliko was briefly overthrown by Ruggedo, and for a time returned to being his chamberlain, until Ruggedo was defeated and rendered mute thanks to the efforts of Samuel Salt and his crew. Kaliko then became the king again. (Pirates in Oz)

Return to Oz

Return to Oz, 1985: the Nome King confronts Dorothy & Co.

In Walt Disney's 1985 film Return to Oz, the Nome King seized Dorothy's Ruby Slippers when she clicked her heels together three times and was transported home, and the shoes fell off of her feet (as in the original book) on the flight back to Kansas. The Nome King finds them fallen on his mountain, where he uses their powers to conquer the Ozians, replace Munchkinland with a dark gloomy forest, destroy the Yellow Brick Road, and demolish the Emerald City. When Dorothy returns to Oz, she finds Oz in ruins.

Return to Oz: the Nome King, enraged, tries to absorb Jack Pumpkinhead.

After escaping the Nome King's accomplices "Princess Mombi" and the Wheelers, Dorothy Gale and her new companions Billina the Yellow Hen, Tik-Tok the mechanical man, Jack Pumpkinhead, and Gump made a journey to the Nome mountain across the Deadly Desert to rescue the King Scarecrow, then a captive of the Nome King, and revive the Ozians.

In this version, the Nome King is able to change his size and shape at will. He first appears as a scowling face emergent from the surrounding stone. Later, when alone with Dorothy, he becomes human-sized and human-shaped, and sits on his throne smoking a pipe (as in the books), where he pretends to comfort her; when his trick is discovered and his prisoners freed, he swells to a colossal size and tries to engulf Dorothy's companions in the interstices of his body, but swallows one of Billina's eggs and dissolves. Throughout the story, he and his subordinate Nomes appear as faces or shapes in the walls of his palace, and can disappear into these at will; and also spy on Dorothy & company through stones in the scenery of Oz itself.

With the Nome King vanquished, Dorothy was able to get her Ruby Slippers back and use them to restore Oz to normal. When the curse was broken, Princess Ozma was released from the mirror where Mombi had kept her, under the Nome King's orders to keep the true heir to Oz's throne a secret. Once free, Ozma revealed herself to Dorothy and the Ozians as the daughter of Pastoria, king of Oz before the Wizard came, and ascended her throne.

Background

The Nome King is an enduring enemy of the characters of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Although the Wicked Witch of the West is the most famous of Oz's villains (thanks to the popular 1939 film The Wizard of Oz), the Nome King is the closest the book series has to a main antagonist. He appears again and again to cause trouble for the magical Land of Oz.

In Rinkitink in Oz the king of the Nomes is Kaliko, Ruggedo's chamberlain; he behaves much like his former master, at least in this book, which is a revision of a lost 1905 novel titled King Rinkitink.

Book Appearances

Canon

Gnome King of Oz

Non-Canon

Media Appearances

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz

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He is a recurring antagonist while Kaliko serves him.

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