Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 44
(see below for breakdown)
From Goodreads: 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. . . .
Honestly I have no idea what took me so long to start this but I really enjoyed it. The worldbuilding was immense. The almost terrifying and vast institution of the Library at Alexandria and its strangle hold on the knowledge and books of the world is just such an interesting concept. For a book worm it is both alluring and scary. I could therefore really empathise with Jess and his companions and they undertake their studies and trials to join the library. The world building is so detailed and beautiful in both its richness and its under current of darkness.
Jess is a wonderful character, torn between the two sides his book smuggling family who are breaking the laws of the Library and the Library itself and the friends he has made there. I adored all of Jess’s classmates, all with a diverse range of backgrounds from sweet and creative Thomas to the sassy talking Dario and the tenacious Khalila. My personal favourite was the classes teacher Scholar Wolfe. He has such a fantastic sass and sarcasm to him while also caring deeply for his charges which makes the best kind of tutor in these kind of school based stories not quite knowing when they are working for or against their students.
This book has so much plot with twists and turns and it really keeps you on your toes. It is all told from Jess’s point of view and I loved getting to hear about his life growing up as a book smuggler and how it impacted him, His journey to Alexandria and his studies and then the events that follow in the wake of those studies. There is so much going on and so much depth to the world and the politics and the characters that it just makes such an immersive story.
Caine’s writing is just gorgeous, it has created this fabulously steampunk world that is just unbelievably creative. It was just such a vast and detailed world. The same care and attention was also found in the characters they each had a distinct voice and detailed back story some of which it was clear we only scratched the surface of. I can’t wait to read book 2.