A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.…
I’d heard of Rachel Caine but Ink and Bone was the first book I’ve read by her. Overall, I was blown away with the depth of the world building and characters introduced in this book. What an incredible story she’s woven about the Great Library (how amazing a subject for a novel to focus on). I love alternate histories and Ink and Bone has been one of my favorites I’ve read.
We meet our main character, Jess, in a prologue chapter when he’s a child and book runner for his father. The ownership of printed books was outlawed in this alternate world (the horror to imagine that!) so Jess’ family ran an underground book business. Jess was used by his father to literally run illegal books to buyers. Caine wrote such a strenuous scene displaying Jess’ job that pulled me in immediately and displayed the dangers of the world we’re being introduced to. I was appalled at his father for putting that on his children but also moved by Jess’ love for books at such an early age. The novel then picked up when Jess was a teenager and though he was much older the core of his character was the same.
Before reading Ink and Bone I didn’t read the summary so didn’t know that a good portion of the story would take place in an academy of sorts. I have always been a fan of academy settings so this was a welcome surprise for me. I enjoyed the side characters that Jess incorporated into his life though I was never as attached to them as I was to Jess or his instructor, Wolfe.
I took an immediate liking to Wolfe’s character and felt that he might just be my favorite character in the novel. His role was important to the story and felt that Caine did an incredible job creating a well rounded person. I love a curt instructor that you know has a heart of gold and Wolfe struck me as such immediately. I loved his closed off nature because it made me more curious to learn about his backstory.
The overall story was beautifully done and though the pacing was fairly slow the tension was high. I think my favorite aspect of this book was that quiet tension throughout the entire novel. Not one time while reading did I feel the characters were truly safe- there was an ever present dread I felt that really added to my reading experience.
And for folks wanting a rich world with little romance this book hits the mark. There are a few romances present but none of them take over the storyline. I loved that the characters were so much more than their love interests.
I was very impressed with Ink and Bone and think it starts off a new series brilliantly and I can’t wait to see what happens next for these characters. Since I’ve not read any of Caine’s other books I can’t say how this measured up to her past work but I am a fan now and I’ll be checking out what other books she has published. Fans of fantasy and alternate history with a focus on intricate world building and well rounded characters will find this novel to their liking.