If we traveled with the main character Jess Brightwell, he would be:
He would be reading books and writing research papers for his classes at some nationally-recognized university. He would be on the track for a research position at a university or a teaching position. He would work at a bookstore on the weekends, but he wouldn't be the best at the job because he would mostly just sit and read.
We would meet him in a library. He would accidentally trip one of us. He would apologize, of course. We would join him for lunch, his treat. He would describe his research. We would ask him to join, and he would join because he wanted to explore and research the world first-hand.
Jess wasn't anyone special. I felt like he was average. Sure, he was smart. Sure, he was kind. But he wasn't extraordinary like Thomas or Khalila. He was pretty ordinary. I felt like I could be Jess. I felt like anyone could be Jess. Smart but not extremely so. He was kind. I didn't mind that. He treated his friends well. And he had a determined spirit that wouldn't back down from a challenge. (Sounds like Barney Stinson to me.?Some will love Jess. I didn't.
The one thing I liked about Jess was his past. His thieving past. It was interesting, and his family connections got him in and out of trouble during his time as a Postulant. His knowledge from those days changed things. I felt like Jess was sneaky. It made me a little intrigued to see what he would do with his connections.
The Adventure Begins (And Ends):
The first half of the book bored me. It was boring training stuff. I didn't particularly care for it. It wasn't action-y or even drama-y. It was quite dull and boring in my opinion. I know some people will like it if they like knowing how people train in these worlds. But I was bored. Nothing seemed to happen. Nothing too interesting, at least. We were introduced to the world and the characters. Boom. Done.
The second half excited me, though. It had action. They were on a mission, risking their lives. How cool is that? These kids endured loss and hardship. They were scarred and broken. But they kept going. I felt like their determination was amazing and admirable.
I'll Wait For You At the Gate:
The romance was sweet and innocent like many first romances. It was so fluffy and sweet.
It felt like first love. It was slow and tentative. It was as if Jess was reluctant to succumb to his feelings. I saw that there would be a romance the moment Morgan first arrived. Jess practically was panting and howling to the moon like a dog. Admittedly, the fluffiness made me smile. I didn't adore the romance, but I didn't hate it either.
I thought that the romance was unnecessary, though. It wasn't needed. Without it, Jess and Morgan could have had a great friendship instead. Their relationship muddied things and made things worse. (Especially on Morgan's end.)
Perks and Upgrades:
The friendships were amazing.
The bond the Postulants formed with each other was stunning. They went through hardship and loss together. I liked that this book emphasized friendships. They're important. Friends can get you through the worst of times. Like what happened in this book. The group was tight. Competitive but the sort of people to congratulate their enemies on a job well done.
Romance isn't the most important thing. Friends and family exist too.
“Hyd nes y byddwn yn cyfarfod eto. Until we meet again.”
“O menos que te vea primero,” Dario said. “Unless I see you first.”
Page 350 'Ink and Bone'
Ah...the world building was a bit lacking, but it was a stunning world to read.
Here's what I know:
The Library has mini-Libraries called Serapeum. Librarians control these. The High Garda guard the Libraries. The Scholars are researchers. There are Magnuses in each field of study, including Obscurist, Artifex, and etc. And there's this Archivist dude. I'm not sure what he does.
There wasn't a lot of explanation. I was annoyed by that. I wanted to know about the world. And the people. I wanted to know about the Codex. And the way the Library infiltrated the lives of every person. And why the Welsh and English fight. (I know that Wales doesn't like being under English rule but still. There had to be some linchpin that set things into motion.) I wanted to know about their alchemy and the limits of alchemy. There were gaps in the world building.
I did think it was a stunning world, though. It was interesting and very unique.
"A life is worth more than a book! Vita hominis plus libro valet!”
Page 34 'Ink and Bone'
You Have Arrived at Your Destination:
The ending left me longing. I had started to like this book. The plot was starting to become more and more interesting. The world was starting to feel a little home-y. I wouldn't want to be a smuggler, but I wouldn't mind being a Scholar.
I had some unanswered questions left. What about Wolfe? Morgan? What will Jess do with Thomas's plans? Who is the Archivist? What does he/she do? What happens in the Iron Tower?
I can't wait for the sequel.
So where did it go wrong?
I felt like the MC could have had more to him. He was an average, intelligent guy. He was a jack of all trades. Which was terrible for him really.
The first half of the plot was lacking. It was mostly training, and I thought it was dull. The second half was more interesting with more action scenes and more tension.
The romance wasn't really needed. It was cute, though, to my utter surprise.
The world building was a bit lacking, but the world was creative and unique.
The friendships made me smile. The bond between all the Postulants was admirable and sweet.
By the end, I started to long for the sequel. And I wanted to find out what happens to Jess and Morgan and everyone else.