I've been a fan of 'The Librarians' for a while, having followed Christian Kane over from 'Leverage' and I'm a fan for a lot of reasons, most of which have little to do with the cast. Sure, it's a sillier, often much sillier, take on 'Warehouse 13' but, at its heart - it's wish fulfilment at its most entertaining. Who wouldn't want to work for a secret organisation that has collected magical artifacts for millennia and has the world's knowledge (and hidden knowledge) at its fingertips? Where do I sign up? I might my like my current job working IT for a bank but I just don't get quite that level of job satisfaction!
Another reason, which is even more applicable in book form, is that it's a gateway to history and culture that is cunningly well disguised as mindless entertainment. Without attempting to recategorise it into some sort of tool to teach kids, because it is absolutely entertainment first and foremost, it also provides, in its notably energetic fashion, a glimpse into so much wonder from our past and present that I fully expect it to show up in interviews fifty years from now. I can see some future expert on Gaelic mythology who has reshaped our understanding of the subject over decades suggest in an award acceptance speech or other that it all began for her with a stupid paperback tie-in novel to a cheesy TV show that saw the good guys fighting the bad guys against a backdrop of leprechauns, banshees and Irish myths, with ties to world literature and with real historical figures appearing in cameos. Or, in other words, this book, Greg Cox's 'The Librarians and the Pot of Gold'. This is precisely what I want to see my grandkids reading!
He sets the scene with a prologue in 411 AD, in which a British Librarian called Erasmus, his Pictish Guardian, Deirdre, and a local monk named Padraic defeat the Brotherhood of the Serpent, in the form of a snake demon and her Roman and Greek muscle, all within a stone circle in rural Eire. Part of the fun of watching (and, even more so, in reading) 'The Librarians' is to figure out what we're seeing before we told and, sure enough, we find that Padraic becomes known as Saint Patrick and defeating Lady Sibella turns out to be the source of the myth about him driving snakes out of Ireland.
Fast forward to today and Carol Marsh is locating pots of gold for Max Lambton using a prism to catch the first or last rays of sunshine of the day and have them highlight points on a map to highlight the locations of pots of gold, in a mathemagical way to locate the ends of the rainbow. Unfortunately, she's not working for the Library, she's working for the Brotherhood of the Serpent, having been duped into thinking that they're the good guys. It isn't Carol but Max who visits those locations in person, captures the leprechauns living there, obtains their pots of gold and then murders them in cold blood. You know, just in case we didn't realise they were the bad guys.
The Library alerts its Librarians (it does that) when a report shows up about a toppled standing stone in Ireland. A separate but highly convenient plot strand has a young lady named Bridget who runs an Irish pub in Chicago called, well, the Pot o' Gold, show up to elicit their assistance in getting rid of the banshee that's been plaguing her. Together it doesn't take a lot of thinking to figure out where we're going and, sure enough, we're mostly on the button throughout. I was at least a step ahead most of the way and you'll probably be too, but, as I pointed out earlier, that's part of the fun. There are still snippets that we'll miss and it's reassuring to see the full jigsaw at the end, when the explanations finish.
I haven't read anything by Greg Cox before, that I know of, but he's a prolific author of novelisations, some of films but mostly of TV shows, at least sixteen of them from the 'Star Trek' universe. With well over forty books behind him, it's no surprise to find that his prose is smooth and comfortable but still engaging. What I'm happy about is that he was able to make this novel feel like the show, a trick that isn't as easy as it sounds. Reading it made me feel like I was watching the show and I could see the characters doing and saying what he wrote with no trouble at all. That tells me that he's good at his job.
The story fits too. This is exactly the sort of idea that would show up on 'The Librarians' and it unfolds exactly as it should, albeit with a lot more depth because three hundred and some pages will always beat an hour (less commercials) on that front. That length also allowed him a 44-page side trip to Paris to spend a chapter diving into the territory of the Phantom of the Opera, whose descendant has found his masterpiece and is about to use it to topple the Opera House entirely through acoustic resonance from his subterranean organ. It's nonsense, of course, but it's gloriously fun nonsense and I loved the suggestion that Gaston Leroux's original novel wasn't entirely fiction.
By the way, there's another novel that's highlighted here, albeit only an aside, which prevents Cox from being able to highlight its connections to the rest of the story. It's Bram Stoker's 'The Lair of the White Worm', which appears because there's a copy in the Library's Hibernian wing that has a serpent on its spine and that catches the eye of Cassandra Cillian, the Librarian with Irish heritage. I wonder if Cox neglected to mention that it has a real connection to myth, being extrapolated from the legend of the Lambton Worm, as a sort of Easter Egg to see how many readers will figure out that connection. Maximilian Lambton, indeed.
Like individual episodes of 'The Librarians', I expect that the novels spun out from that series are going to work or they're not. I'm happy to say that this one does, being a fast and easy read that has some depth for those who are interested in looking for it, all told in a style that ably mimics the source show. If you're into the idea behind 'The Librarians' and you enjoy the show, you're guaranteed to enjoy this novel. I should clearly look out for the two previous novels that Greg Cox wrote in this series, 'The Librarians and the Lost Lamp' and 'The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase'. ~~ Hal C F Astell
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