Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she's not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg's Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.
However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy - particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library's destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted 'join me or die' job offer. Meanwhile, Irene's old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.
I was so frustrated with the ending of The Masked City, I could hardly wait to get my hands on this, book three of the series. The Burning Page answered the hanging questions from TMC and plunges the reader into more Library adventures with Irene and Kai.
Thankfully, this volume ends on a better note for me—the story is wrapped up, although there is definitely room for more adventures (which I shall await impatiently). This installment has fewer Fae in it (a minus for me) but gets Irene back to the fundamentals of being a Librarian, i.e. the pursuit of rare books (definitely a plus).
I love the Library’s determined neutrality—they refuse to support either the forces of Chaos or those of Order, knowing that the optimum state is a balance in between those two poles. Like real libraries do, actually, trying to support the needs of their community, no matter which political party is currently forming government, while defending free speech, free flow of information, and freedom from censorship.
I do hope that Irene and Vale manage to overcome their issues to become a couple in the next book (although if he is a Sherlock-Holmes-kind-of-guy, this may be a doomed relationship). Four books is an awful long distance to draw out the suspense of this courtship. And Kai is hinting that he’s in the running too, so will Irene have to deal with some awkward workplace romance? And will she regain her standing within the Library hierarchy, or is she doomed to probation forever? Perhaps The Lost Plot will answer some of my questions.
I’m ever so glad that I discovered this series—it is highly entertaining and I will be sad when I’ve finished reading it. Thankfully, that point seems to be some distance in the future right now, with books 4 and 5 promised, but no dates for publication yet available.