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The Master Key

L. Frank Baum

Book Overview: 

The Master Key was one of Baum’s earliest full length fantasy books for children just one year after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The protagonist, Rob, while experimenting in his workshop, accidentally summons up an electrical fairy who presents him with electrical devices so advanced as to seem magical. His gifts include a flying contraption, a stun gun, and something resembling an omniscient portable TV set. Rob travels the world, rendering assistance to European heads of state and narrowly escaping disaster at the hands of “primitive” cannibals, Turks and Tatars, pirates, and evil scientists who try to steal his inventions. It’s great fun, despite the occasional use of racial stereotypes that reflect the values of its time.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . walked upon the soft grass of the plateau he felt elated, and compared himself to the explorers of ancient days; for it was evident that civilization had not yet reached this delightful spot.

There was scarcely any twilight in this tropical climate and it grew dark quickly. Within a few minutes the entire island, save where he stood, became dim and indistinct. He ate his daily tablet, and after watching the red glow fade in the western sky and the gray shadows of night settle around him he stretched himself comfortably upon the grass and went to sleep.

The events of the day must have deepened his slumber, for when he awoke the sun was shining almost directly over him, showing that the day was well advanced. He stood up, rubbed the sleep from his eyes and decided he would like a drink of water. From where he stood he could see several little brooks following winding paths through the forest, so he settled upon one that seemed farthest from th. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The Master Key by L. Frank Baum---a fairy tale where a boy is given magical electrical gifts by the Demon of Electricity. Augured the internet, google, stun guns, TV, computers, wireless telephones....ends with Rob's comment: "Some people might think I was a fool to give up those electrical inven...more

This book was a series of surprises for me.
Some of them were positive, and some of them were not.
I couldn't help taking a sigh of relief when nowhere in the book scientific progress and new technologies were portrayed in a negative light. Maybe it's because of the period in which this was written...more

Pretty interesting story. Hard to believe that Baum could see so many inventions that are basically around today. I think the story has an interesting moral as well. The only thing that is iffy for me is that it feels like there is no real path or destination for Rob. It's like Baum started a sto...more

This is an entertaining book, and it's quite different from the Oz series. The premise is that budding electrician Rob Billings Joslyn accidently summons the Demon of Electricity with his experiments. The Demon of Electricity is NOT the "minion of Satan" variety. It's more like the old term "daem...more

This is not one of L. Frank Baum’s best known works, and it probably should not be compared to the Wizard of Oz. Yet it is well worth the read, even if it is just to see what a great thinker predicted, in 1901, would be the most important electrical inventions of the following century. If you’re...more

A startling lack of imagination. Cannibals and pirates? Oh dear. This has none of the originality of the Oz books.

It was fun reading this book. Takes you back to elementary grade level. It's a kid adventure, nice to read a fiction that makes you feel like a little kid again. Made me look back to memories in third grade. The class room had one book shelf 4 feet tall with around 100 paper back books to select...more

After reading all the Oz books I thought about reading Baum's other books that I own. I only started with this one because it the first one in a collection of stories by him. I will be reading the other because they look more promising, but I didn't really like this one and didn't think I would e...more

Eh, it was okay. I guess the ultimate lesson Rob learned was interesting, but the characterization and "humor" in this book were so shallow that it read as almost sociopathic to me. The racism was way less problematic than Rob acting like participating in a battle and actually killing people is a...more

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