Ink & Bone: The Great Library #1
By Rachel Caine (NY Times bestselling author of The Morganville Vampire Novels)
Publishing Year: 2015
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Reading Level: YA
Setting: England & Egypt
In this first installment of her new series Caine sets the stage for a futuristic, thrilling, & mind blowing story in which The Great Library of Alexandria ever burns down, but exists in the present day.
Let’s have a little history lesson…In 323 BC Alexander the Great died in Babylon & was succeeded by one of his lieutenants Ptolemy. Under this reign Ptolemy moved the capital of Egypt from Memphis to Alexandria. It was there that he built The Great Library. The library housed thousands of scrolls, ancient texts, & art. The true reason the Library was destroyed is not totally known, but it is said to have been burned down when Julius Caesar’s army overtook the city in 48 BC.
However, in this book the Library doesn’t burn down, but still exists, & in its vast existence controls all the original books in the world.
The originals are housed in the main library in Alexandria & in sisters libraries “Serapeums”, all over the world. These libraries are guarded by automaton lions that keep the secrets safe within the stacks.
People are able to read any original book through a system of “blanks”. The blanks are loaded with the original, as if you were reading it yourself. Everyone is also encouraged to keep a person journal called a Codex to write their thoughts down; messages can be sent through the Codex as well. But be careful…the library is always watching.
We first see the world through the eyes of young Jess Brightwell. He is a “runner” in a family that makes its money from the book black market. He lives in London, England & there is a war currently going on between England & Wales.
The Library is always seeking new blood so, Jess is bought an opportunity to take a test & become a Postulant in the Library service. Once he passes, Jess along with many other potential Library servants are in competition for six spots in the service.
They travel by train to Alexandria & are immediately aware that something strange is happening with the Library.
There are several Library positions including High Garda, Scholar, & Alchemist in the Iron Tower.
Through the course of their training they raid black market houses, stop “burners”, learn about the history of the library, go to war, recover lost items, & travel through unknown plains. Some are lost in the pages, but Jess & a few of his fellow postulants make it through to the end & claim jobs in the library service.
Overall this book was very enjoyable, fast paced, & full of mystery. The next installment in the series comes out in Summer 2016.
Knowledge is power but power can be dangerous…