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Ken Karp
James Dashner is the author of "The Iron Empire," the seventh book in the Infinity Ring series for middle readers.

"INFINITY RING, Book 7: The Iron Empire,” by James Dashner, Scholastic, $12.99, 190 pages (f) (8-12)

The three young Hystorians, Sera, Dak and Riq, are on their final time-shift mission. It is the Prime Break, the beginning of the Hystorians, before the Infinity Ring, Time Wardens and the SQ. Their mission is in 336 B.C. in Corinth, Greece, and Aristotle doesn’t even know about the secret Hystorian Society that he has yet to create.

The young time-travelers have three weeks to inform Aristotle of their mission and then to prevent the Prime Break, stopping the assassination of King Phillip and his son, Alexander the Third, at the hands of the bodyguard Pausanius.

Locating Aristotle in Corinth is no easy task, but when they do, the great philosopher listens to the young Hystorians' story. He is skeptical at first but is finally convinced of the mission’s purpose.

The three-week time frame is usurped by the appearance of “a woman with hair of flames and lips of tar” rumored to have already murdered Alexander. It is Tilda, a powerful SQ who came to fix history for her own benefit.

Using the Infinity Ring, the Hystorians and Aristotle travel back in time three days to protect Alexander from the assassin, knowing that his death would unravel history and make reality unstable for the future.

“The Iron Empire” is the seventh book in the multiauthor and multiplatform Infinity Ring series in which the three youngsters slip through time to correct Great Breaks of the past.

One pivotal point in "The Iron Empire" regarding the complexity of changing history is when they go back to the United States. Dak, wanting to save President Abraham Lincoln’s life, goes to Ford's Theatre and pleads with Lincoln to leave the play so he won’t be shot.

Dak is made to realize that such a change in the present would make history unstable. President Lincoln explains, “If you say that you’re from the future, then I believe you. ... There’s a lesson I want you to learn. My path has been laid before me. As has yours ... Now go and walk your path ... make the world a better place.”

In “The Iron Empire," author James Dashner’s excellent characterizations reflect the growth of the three Hystorians as they’ve developed into best friends when final decisions are shared and appreciated.

Also, the author, who penned the first book in the series, "A Mutiny in Time," has skillfully kept the protagonists faithful to their contemporary ages through dialogue and temperament even though they’ve traveled into distant lands and diverse eras and met some of the world’s most powerful people. The language is appropriate for middle-readers and has no detailed violence.

Since this is the seventh and last book in the announced series, the Infinity Ring will supposedly no longer take the youngsters on missions to fix history. The SQ is no more.

Or is it?

Each of the books in the series is packaged with a full-color Hystorian’s Guide that serves as a key to unlocking the next adventure. The guide in “The Iron Empire” is titled “Stop the Lady in Red.” It gives notice of an eighth Infinity Ring book, titled “Eternity” and written by author Matt de la Peña, and the website infinityring.scholastic.com indicates it's due out in August.

It appears the Hystorians are about to embark on another mission.