the second book in the great library series picks up about a month after ink and bone with everyone scattered to their work assignments, morgan locked away with the obscurists and thomas (it is revealed early on) held captive by the artifex in a mysterious location.
the first third of paper and fire involves jess, glain, dario and khalila putting together the clues to lead them to where thomas is being held. the second third of the book involves them figuring out how to get him out and the last third sets us up for the conclusion of the series. the action really dragged in this one, at least until the characters are all together in the roman catacombs and later when they are in the tower occupied by the obscurists.
unlike the first book where there was a lot of focus on the relationships between the characters, this book is all action with minimal character development. we do get some additional information on the characters' backgrounds, but nothing that would alter our understanding of who they are. so for me this felt very much like we were treading water, waiting for the moment where we could finally get to all the good stuff. and that last third, it's like a completely different novel.
things happen. bad things happen. and every jam our rag-tag group of heros gets out of goes further south. by the end of the book, they've all jumped out of the frying pan, straight into the fire. ash and quill will let us see what happens when it all burns down, i suppose. and even though i wasn't in love with the story, i still love this world and these characters. i want to see where they end up.