Review of Bookburners: “Alexandria Leaving” by Max Gladstone

40182522Bookburners: “Alexandria Leaving” by Max Gladstone. Season four, episode 10.

The final episode of the season is upon us. Team Three heads to Alexandria, where they’ve got to protect the Library from an imminent invasion.

Spoilers for previous episodes of Bookburners will follow.

The Team’s all ready to defend the Library of Alexandria, but how is the attack going to happen in the first place? The Library has its own, practically impenetrable defenses. Perhaps the answer has something to do with the Swedes kidnapping the Librarian’s daughter in exchange for a list of demanded materials — which is what happens immediately after Team Three gets off the plane in Egypt.

Urgh, there’s so much to talk about with this episode… but I don’t want to dive into spoiler territory either! So I’ll try to compromise by being unsatisfyingly vague. This whole season our protagonists have been looking for ways to save a world drowning under the tide of magic, a world whose reality and laws of physics are an experiment by entities beyond our dimension. The project creators have effectively given up and decided to let it run down, but obviously, that’s not a plan people on Earth are happy with! This season, the proposed solution has mostly been to find some way to balance magic and reality and to live naturally with magic. Unfortunately, there’s still going to be way too much magic to make that practical. In this episode, we finally see something that might be a concrete solution… but that’s assuming the project creators are going to allow it to happen.

And I just hit on what I’m betting is going to be the big conflict of the next season. Speaking of, is there any word on whether or not the next season will be the last? Because this season has definitely been giving me “next-to-last” vibes. You can’t really raise the stakes anymore than saving the entire world, and from what I’ve seen in season four, I think the whole “saving the world” thing could probably be accomplished entirely in season five.

Character-wise, Grace and Ashanti were the most stand-out in “Alexandria Leaving.” I mean, part of that could be that I’m such a Grace fan… but I think even people who don’t adore her will agree that she plays a significant role here. Oh, and this episode finally gives us a concrete number on how much time Grace has left. It isn’t good.

Grace’s arc has been leaning towards giving up on finding a cure and focusing on living life to the fullest, making peace with her imminent death. I don’t know how I feel about this. I don’t know, it’s just… look, I don’t know how I feel about this storyline being given to a queer character when “Bury Your Gays” is such a pervasive and harmful trope. That said, Grace obviously hasn’t died yet. And I also trust the writers to handle this well.

At the end of season three, I had a list of predictions and questions for this season. Why don’t we look back over them?

“Will they find a cure for Grace’s condition?”

Nope, but I continue to care a lot about it.

“How will the rest of the world react to London?”

I do adore this plotline. It’s like, “secret magical world exposed to the real world?” Imagine if in book six of Harry Potter, the Muggles finally found out about the wizarding world. It’s such a cool storyline, and I can’t believe I haven’t seen it done before! Also, I loved seeing the way the world was adapting to magic.

“How will Sal’s parents react to finding out she and Perry are involved with magic?”

Strangely enough, this never came up. It’s especially a bit odd when you think about how Perry’s slowly dying from an allergy to magic…

“Is Menchú going to break completely with the Vatican?”

Hah, called it!

“Are we going to see Hannah again?”

Umm, no comments on this one.

Okay, and I also have some questions for next season!

  • Will Grace die in a heroic self-sacrifice?
  • Will next season be the last?
  • What will Menchú do? I’m presuming he will retire, but what will that mean for him?
  • Will Francis and Liam be together at the end of next season?
  • Will Perry die?
  • And most importantly, will Team Three save the world after all?

Reading and reviewing season four of Bookburners has been a great experience. Thanks to all of you reading this for coming along on the ride!

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest reveiw.

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