Ink And Bone: The Great Library

Ink And Bone: The Great Library
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Release Date
July 07, 2015
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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 he 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.…

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Ink And Bone
(Updated: July 27, 2015)
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Rachel Caine delivers an intriguing new series in an alternative world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived. Only the library has the power to control what knowledge goes out to the masses. It's a crime to have personal access to books. Jess Brightwell comes from a family that lives off smuggling books to those rich enough to pay the cost. When his father sends him to the Library of Alexandria to be a spy, Jess is not sure what to think especially after he witnesses the darker side of the library. The crime to own your own book is heresy and the punishment is to burn.

What worked: I loved this alternative world where the Great Library uses alchemy to deliver the content of any great work in history instantly. Only problem is that the Library has ultimate control. There's so many great things in this story that have a steampunk flavor but are unique in their own way. The whole idea that a library is in total control of any type of knowledge and of books is frightening. Jess loves books and hates how his father sends him to the library in order to spy. He doesn't like being part of the smuggling ring but knows he has to do what he needs to in order not to be cut off from his family.

Jess struggles with one early experience of smuggling out a priceless book only to witness how some are so corrupt with power they are driven to actually eat the book. Love this scene where an ink-eater, tears the pages from the book and tells ten-year-old Jess basically that there was no act of possession more complete than consuming the unique. That image stays with Jess and he records in his own journal that no one reads. At least that is private.

The library training ground kind of reminded me of a darker Harry Potter where the trials and tests can lead not only to being kicked out but worse. There are only six spaces available. Each of the postulates are bright and driven to succeed. They also have their own secrets.

There's suspense, adventure, the grittiness of war and loss, betrayal, secrets, and more! The build up to the final reveal has Jess confront the very thing he fears.

Fascinating new series with an alternative history where the Library of Alexandria still exists and the few brave enough to stand up to the controlling power that means to silence them. Highly recommended!
Good Points
1. Fascinating new series filled with suspense, adventure, the grittiness of war and loss, betrayal, secrets, and more!
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'Ink and Bone' by Rachel Caine
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Travel Companion:

If we traveled with the main character Jess Brightwell, he would be:
The Scholar

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.
Good Points
I admit that I'm a little disappointed. I thought this book would be extravagant. I mean...look at what it has. Books? Check. Awesome magic and alchemy? Check. Friendship? Check. Family? Check. A MC who is a THIEF? Check.
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.
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