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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Deadly Desert
The Oz series location
The official map of Oz and surrounding deserts
Created byL. Frank Baum
GenreChildren's books
TypeMagical desert
Other name(s)Shifting Sands, Great Sandy Waste, Impassable Desert

The Deadly Desert is the magical desert that completely surrounds the fictional Land of Oz, which cuts it off from the rest of the world.[1]


On the map of Oz, first published in the endpapers of the eighth book, Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), the eastern quadrant of the desert is called the Deadly Desert, while the other three quadrants of desert are called the Shifting Sands, the Impassable Desert, and the Great Sandy Waste.[1]

The desert was originally described as dangerous as any natural desert but no more. Indeed, in the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904), the witch Mombi tries to escape through it in the form of a griffin, and Glinda chases her over the sands. In the third book, Ozma of Oz (1907), it has become a magical desert with life-destroying sands and noxious fumes, a feature that remained constant through the rest of the series.[2]

In the fifth book, The Road to Oz (1909), a sign is posted on the edge of the desert to warn travelers:

For the Deadly Sands Will Turn Any Living Flesh to Dust in an Instant.
Beyond This Barrier is the
But no one can Reach that Beautiful Country because of these Destroying Sands.

The desert is used as a literary device to explain why Oz is essentially cut off from the rest of the world and the rest of Nonestica. However, it has been crossed several times by people from within Oz and from the outside world, with applied ingenuity, with magical assistance, or through unusual natural phenomena. In fact, no one in the Oz series is ever seen to die in the desert.[3]

Notable crossings

In other media

  • In the film Return to Oz, Dorothy Gale crosses the edge of the Desert by stepping upon stones. Later, the pack of Wheelers working for Mombi fail to get across the Deadly Desert in pursuit of Dorothy and the Gump, who cross the desert to reach the Nome King's mountain. Six of the Wheelers fall into the desert and are subsequently turned into sand and killed. The seven remaining Wheelers later return with Princess Mombi and cross the desert through the tunnel dug underneath the desert to reach the Nome King's mountain.


  1. ^ a b Baum, L. Frank (1976). Hearn, Michael Patrick (ed.). The Annotated Wizard of Oz. Crown. ISBN 0-517-50086-8.
  2. ^ Riley, Michael O. (1997). Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. University Press of Kansas. p. 139. ISBN 0-7006-0832-X.
  3. ^ De Hoff, Nathan M. (Winter 2011). ""Great dates and deserts!": Some Thoughts on the Deadly Desert of Oz". The Baum Bugle. 55 (3): 11–15.
This page was last edited on 8 June 2020, at 22:48
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