I hadn’t planned on reading both of these this week, but I finished Ink and Bone and just HAD to read Paper and Fire. My goodness, I absolutely LOVE this series! It’s a book hoarder’s nightmare, and I think that’s part of what makes it so amazing. On top of that, it’s amazingly well-written, has a fantastic concept, and has a diverse array of characters that all really pop. It’s just SOOOoooo good!
Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)
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 his friend 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…
Ink and Bone has a spectacular premise.
Instead of burning down forever ago, the Library of Alexandria has basically taken over the world. And as with any good distopian, they have decided that they know what knowledge is dangerous to have. Since knowledge is power, the librarians have hoarded books away and only made certain ones available to the public.
Their greatest threat? The burners (which, by the way, what a wonderful premise given that in actual history the library burned). They believe that books should be available to anyone and everyone, and that books aren’t worth more than a life. Others (like the smuggler family Jes grew up with) believe similar things, but as with most
The ephemera were wonderfully utilized.
Each chapter began with ephemera. This is a word I didn’t actually know the meaning of, and once I learned, my mind was blown. They’re “things that exist or are used only for a short time,” and Caine utilized them to share little tidbits of knowledge with the reader.
The ephemera were used to share lovely little allusions throughout the book that speak to how the library has suppressed new ideas that would make books accessible. From notes regarding Gutenberg’s discovery of the printing press to notes giving orders on how to deal with the main characters — Caine did a beautiful job of giving this world depth beyond the view of the characters we’re following.
And, as it turns out, the ephemera end up playing a fairly significant role regarding the macro plot that’s pretty solidly revealed by the end of Ink and Bone.
There’s a fun cast of characters.
I’ve seen a lot of raving about how diverse Ink and Bone is. I’ll agree, almost every character has a very different background. The main characters came from all over Europe and the Middle East. But what I liked more about the characters? They had diverse personalities that all came across.
While Jes is definitely the main character, we get to learn so much about the others that they all were very real and unique. Even though there are half a dozen or so characters in the spotlight, I always remembered who was who and why I liked/disliked them. I could even tell who was speaking just by their voice, and normally didn’t need names. This is something that I’m always impressed by, because I personally feel like I’m rubbish at things like that.
Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2)
With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.
Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.
Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.
But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…
The macro-plot really begins here.
While Ink and Bone was enjoyable and well-plotted on its own, it’s painfully clear that it’s mostly setting the stage for the rest of the series. Paper and Fire took off with the REAL conflict. And I loved every minute of it.
I don’t even know what else to say here without getting into spoilers. Gah!
The stage is set to make book 3 get really interesting; I have some guesses about what’s going to happen after that heck of a cliff hanger, and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right!
The characters really get developed.
I love all of the characters. I love to love the good ones. I love to hate the bad ones. And I love how complex everyone is becoming.
The non-characters loom darkly.
Even more appealing to me is how much the library itself seems to loom over everything. It’s very big brother-esque. I love how the idea behind the library is something everyone can get on board with: protecting knowledge and books so that they’ll last forever. Ink and Bone began to explore the fact that this pedestal of knowledge has preserved its ideals in a less than idealistic way.
But Paper and Fire really embraces that idea. Yes, we should preserve books. Yes, we should value knowledge. But not at the cost of human life. And not in some super secret, hyper-controlled environment. And not in a society where ideas that will push us forward get suppressed.
Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire are officially among my favorite dystopian books.
Caine has taken bits and pieces of my favorite dystopian books, mashed them together, and paired them up with an idea so horrifying and yet so incredibly believable. It’s hard not to appreciate the creativity and pure crafstmanship that went into this series. I’m most definitely looking forward to reading more 🙂