I enjoyed re-immersing myself in the world of the Great Library. The action takes up shortly after the end of the first book, with the students having moved from being Library postulants into their roles as Garda (the Library's army), Scholars (Librarians), and Obscurists (alchemists). But their primary focus is their dear friend Thomas, missing and presumed dead...or is he? Jess, Glein, Khalila, Dario, and Morgan, with assistance from their mentors, High Garda officer Santi and Scholar Wolfe, are determined to find out--and if he's alive, they're not leaving him in the hands of the Library and the Archivist.
There are lots of exciting scenes, especially involving the automata--giant animated statues trained to attack the enemies of the Library. (Picture the lions on the front steps of New York Public Library getting up and chasing you.) We gain a little more insight into the personnel of the Library and the illegal book smugglers, and the ending is a set-up to find out about the Burners in the next book.
The story suffered a little from middle-book syndrome, but the dynamic among the characters is probably the best vehicle to make the story flow. Although we don't learn as much as we might have liked in this book, we do get some further background and we root for Jess and friends as they encounter ever greater perils. I will definitely anticipate book #3!