Sunday, June 5, 2016

Spring Reading 2016 The Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks


Those who have visited my library know that I am a fan of this series, I even have the "Is Your Librarian a Secret Ninja?" poster on display in the fiction section. For those who haven't encountered this series before, let's just point out that the title says it all. Ninja. Librarians.

This time around, Dorrie and Marcus return to Petrarch's Library to continue their training as apprentice Lybrarians. There is a little difficulty actually reaching the portal (something about being banned from their hometown library, breaking in, getting caught in the act...). Once they arrive, they are able to turn in their requests for mentors and practicum courses. Besides the hostility from Millie and her friend Izel that Dorrie has come to expect, there is also disagreement between the senior Lybrarians about the best course to take. Some want more missions sent out to find the Foundation's stronghold and prevent them from tampering with history. Others insist that the ends justify the means and that physical coercion should be used on the prisoner, Mr. Biggs, and force him to give them information on the Foundation.

Between planning with Ebba for their Principles of Lybrarianship training mission, doing the assigned readings, taking a field trip to Tyre in 327 BCE, practicing her sword work with Savi, and assisting the Archivist in organizing mission reports, Dorrie stays very busy. But that doesn't stop her from worrying about the page from the History of Histories that the Foundation has acquired, or their plans to disrupt key missions, or the rumor that one particular disruption would mean the death of someone in Petrarch's Library. Marcus has his own worries. His crush, Egeria, has a boyfriend that Marcus didn't know about. A drummer he met while he and Dorrie were in Athens is being charged with serious crimes and Marcus wants to save him. Even Ebba is distracted with an upcoming trip she and her Lybrarian parents are planning. Can a few apprentices with plenty on their plates actually solve the problems that their teachers can't? You'll have to read to find out.

Besides the mystery and adventure of the story, I also enjoy the humor. Some of my favorite moments from this book are times that Marcus quotes from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." As he, Dorrie, and Ebba are traveling through a dark cave, he sings, "There's no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going." When they hear the ceiling above them cracking, he quips, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts." And when someone asks why anyone would ever help the Foundation, he suggests they are doing it for "a lifetime supply of chocolate?" When he's not riffing on Roald Dahl, he is also very amusing when he tries to drown his heartache in large amounts of baklava.

There are also serious themes worked into the book. The girls learn about how important it is to let both sides of a cause have their say, even when you disagree with what is being said. (That part actually reminded me of the scene in "The American President" when Michael Douglas addresses the media and talks about the Constitution and Bill of Rights giving everyone the right to freedom of speech.)  There is also the debate on whether the ends justify the means. If you do bad things for a good cause, can your cause remain good? And Dorrie learns a very good lesson about facing fear and not letting it take over.

Altogether a wonderful second adventure for the characters. Each of them learn and grow, even the adults. And there are still plenty of opportunities for future missions as their training and the series continue.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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