Tor Fantasy, November 2006
For centuries, the Great Library has collected and protected books--all the books in the world. Now, though, the library is in flames and its Grandmagister kidnapped. Librarian First Class Juhg had is disagreements with the Grandmagister, but he loves him like the father he lost years ago. He feels responsible for tracking him down, but the wizard, Craugh insists that the Grandmagister wants them to find a peculiar book--the book of time. The more Juhg learns about the book of time, the more he wonders whether Craugh wants it for its power rather than for any desirable purpose. Sure, the Grandmagister trusted Craugh, but the Grandmagister is now imprisioned and tortured--that isn't a very positive recommendation.
Through a combination of logic and blackmail, Craugh eventually persuades Juhg that the search for the book is essential to freeing the Grandmagister. But the book has been broken, with each piece hidden in the trapped ruins of destroyed civilizations (civilizations apparently destroyed by the book itself).
Juhg, a dweller, is an unlikely hero. Still, he resolves to do the best he can. Using the logic he developed in years of working in the library, he manages to do what no one else can--to actually touch the book when he eventually finds the first piece. The book is powerful, but it contains traps of its own. All books are dangerous, but this particular book may be the most deadly item in existance.
Author Mel Odom(see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Odom) writes a compelling adventure with sympathetic characters, a fascinating world, a rich history, and some thoughts that are especially relevant as we move dangerously closer to a post-literate society. Odom does a great job making us sympathize with Juhg, while simultaneously letting us see the world from other viewpoints. There are, it seems, other stories, other libraries. While the vanquished Lord Kharrion was undoubtedly evil, he was once able to persuade dwarves, elves, men, and goblinkin to hide the book that they must have known would destroy them. Could he have been fighting against something even more evil. Odom certainly leaves plenty of possibilities open for future exploration into his magical world even as he wraps up this particular story.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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