A young librarian discovers that books are living things that must be read and, sometimes, stabbed.
Teenage runaway Alexandren not only finds that the realm’s long-locked-up royal library where he lands a temporary gig has gone “feral and moldy and restless,” but that he too has become a target for certain specially marked and weaponized volumes. Fortunately, thanks to the martial upbringing he has fled, he turns out to be a dab hand with a blade. And, as Alex feels his way toward an understanding of his duties as a librarian, he finds unexpected allies in 16-year-old Queen Kenneret, newly crowned and also struggling to define her role and responsibilities, and Kenneret’s dyslexic but extremely bright younger brother, Charleren. Amid alarums and excursions Alex learns that all books and their contents can be commanded by certain Lost Books…particularly a Scroll of Kings that, it turns out, Kenneret’s scheming uncle is searching for as a means of usurping the throne. Along with slipping in many library jokes, Prineas makes sparks fly as Alex and Kenneret, both of whom are intense, prickly sorts, explore common ground and conflicting agendas. By the end, though the immediate crises have been resolved, there’s still plenty of unfinished business for future episodes to tackle. Alex is pale, and Kenneret has olive skin—in this world, the nobility is dark-skinned.
One for the books—and for all who, like Alex, cherish them. (Fantasy. 11-13)