RogerBW's Blog

The Lost Plot, Genevieve Cogman 18 December 2023

2017 alternate-world fantasy, fourth of its series. A political struggle leaves Irene dodging everyone from gangsters to dragons in alt-1920s New York.

I like the political setup. The Library tries to stay neutral between the dragons (Law) and the fae (Chaos), so when a dragon approaches Irene with an aim to getting her to obtain a book, and what's worse suggests that the dragon's rival has already employed a different librarian, the potential for destroyed neutrality is huge.

But what that translates into is Irene being dropped into another world which her rivals are better prepared for than she is, and a serious of captures and escapes that rival some of the duller Doctor Who serials. It feels, as it did there, like marking time, as though Cogman has no better way to get Irene the information she needs to resolve the plot than to have her various captors dribble it out to her.

The alternate America seems less an actual alternate than one of those worlds that is conveniently like a historical period in our world, so that we can visit Past Land without any of that awkward paradox stuff. (Echoes, in GURPS Infinite Worlds terminology.) Though the names are different so we don't have to worry about details of actual historical gangsters.

Several of the regular series characters are missing, and I got the feeling I was meant to be invested in the dragons' political struggle (whereas if the series has pushed any specific viewpoint so far it's been the virtues of the Library's neutrality). These new people just aren't terribly engaging.

For me, less about Irene's ongoing decision on the wisdom of sleeping with someone who regards her as his property, more about the actual friggin' Library, would be welcome.

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Previous in series: The Burning Page | Series: The Invisible Library | Next in series: The Mortal Word

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