All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Ink And Bone by Rachel Caine

on December 16, 2020

Ink And Bone (The Great Library #1)
Rachel Caine
Allison & Busby
2015, 410p
Read via my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .

Recently I was very sad to hear of the death of Rachel Caine, from cancer. I have read quite a few of her books – the entire Morganville Vampires series, the Revivalist series and probably a few others here and there. It reminded me of how much I still had to read of her backlist. On one of my TBR bookcases, I have about half of the Weather Warden series. I’ve read the first book probably 10 years ago now but have never gotten around to finishing the series. And despite how much I’ve really thought this series would interest me over the years, I hadn’t even managed to start it. So I figured I would give this one a go as it is one I’ve always wanted to read.

It’s an alternative timeline series, where the Great Library of Alexandria still exists. It also controls knowledge – all the books are stored in libraries and dealing in books has become rare and contraband with the threat of death hanging over anyone who dares. Still, when anything is banned there are people who will pay handsomely for it and there are people like Jess’ father who will provide. He ropes his sons in from a very early age – already to the detriment of his eldest. Jess knows if he gets caught, he will not be rescued, he will not be acknowledged and he should spill no information.

Jess’ father summons him when he’s 16 and announces that he’s paid for Jess to take the exam to enter the Great Library under a sort of…apprenticeship? Jess still must take and pass a test, which he does and then he finds himself on the train to Alexandria, meeting his fellow students, some of which will be brutally sent home. From however many there are that begin, only 6 will be chosen. Their instruction is undertaken by Scholar Wolfe, who doesn’t seem to relish the task he has been chosen (?) for.

The world building is really interesting. In some ways the society is very advanced, in others it appears not so much. England and Wales are basically at war, there are dissenters around that want to bring down the Great Library and dismantle its power. I found the beginning of the book a bit slow but once Jess made it to Alexandria to begin his studies, it definitely picked up and became much more interesting. I really liked the group of students (there are many but about a half dozen of them or a few more become a main part of the story as Jess gets to know them, be it in a combative or friendly type of way) and I loved how the character of Scholar Wolfe developed. At first he is so dismissive of them, barely tolerating them, terrifying the life out of them. He seems like a bit of an asshole but sprinkled throughout the story (at the beginning of chapters, I think) are excerpts from communications and some of those flesh out his backstory a bit. As we get further into the story, more about him is revealed and his struggle at being chosen to be their mentor is given more light and the why becomes quite sinister.

This book went in some really exciting directions and the cast of characters is both interesting and diverse. There’s so much bubbling below the surface – Jess was only just starting to uncover some really strange and suspicious things towards the end of the book and things are not as they seem at all. I definitely want to know more about the Obscurists. This book is deliberately vague about it as Jess didn’t really know anyone who can or is willing to give him that information, but now he does, so I expect that to play a great role in books to come, especially as he seeks to free the one he loves.

I enjoyed this, despite the fact that I did find it a bit slow in the first 100-150p or so. The rest was a good read and I’ve already requested the second book from my local library.


Book #237 of 2020


4 responses to “Review: Ink And Bone by Rachel Caine

  1. I loved the Morganville series and I bought this on ebook after with intentions of reading more of her writing, but like you, still hadn’t. I’ll have to make a point of getting on with it.

  2. Izabel Brekilien says:

    I heard about Rachel Caine too but I haven’t read her books – yet. Now I’ll probably pick this one up 😉

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