It seems that my reading has found a theme…for now. Books. Or rather novels in which Books play a central role, like today’s review, Rachel Caine’s Ink and Bone, and my current read (and next review), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. However, I don’t intend to move on from there to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose – well not yet. (Those two are both influences already though not as a reader.)
Anyway, on to the review:
Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…
Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.
Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…
“Ink and Bone” was a novel that I couldn’t stop reading from the moment that the blurb hooked my attention. This is an alternative history based around a radical shift in events two millennia ago, when the first burning of the Library at Alexandria took place.
This alternative history’s direction has been dictated by the Great Library, who controls everyone’s lives through their stranglehold on knowledge. We are used to having books all around us, freely available – well in fact not everywhere. But this situation is frighteningly different and Rachel Caine has created a believable society, with a clever twist on how people read – or don’t.
The twists and deceptions kept me thinking, but this novel was very readable and everything made sense – in its parallel world way. Everyone had some sort of relationship with books, and those interactions dictated their roles and how the Great Library viewed them. Whether the authorities know about Jess Brightwell ’s smuggling background is a crucial plot element – information rules.
The descriptions of Jess and his fellow students at the Great Library draw you into their lives and concerns. The machinations of the Great Library mean that you can never be sure who to trust, or even who will survive to enter the Library’s service.
Ink and Bone reaches a chilling conclusion that sets up Book 2 Paper and Fire with plenty of questions to motivate reading on.