Thursday, July 7, 2016

Really Short Reviews and Giveaway: The Great Library Series by Rachel Caine

I'd been intrigued by the premise of the Great Library series since I heard about it last year and had been meaning to read Ink and Bone ever since. Last weekend I finally did and was so fascinated by the world that I finished book two, Paper and Fire, the same day. Here are my thoughts on both books. And at the end of the post you'll have a chance to win a paperback copy of Ink and Bone.

20643052Ink and Bone
(The Great Library #1)
Rachel Caine
Release: July 7, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
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… 

This is one of those books that makes me want to write a paper rather than a review. I'm going to try to keep it short and spoiler free, but I'm just fascinated by the Library, the way it both reveres books and views them as a threat. The Library's monopoly on information creates a thriving black market for books. It also leads to fanatic detractors, the Burners, and Ink-lickers, some people with very a interesting fetish.

The story is told from the point of view of sixteen year old Jess, whose family made its fortune smuggling books and evading the Library. But between chapters we get documents about the Library's history, the back story of  Jess's teacher Wolfe, and even the machinations of Library officials, which help move the plot along.

The series is set in the near future, but because the Library suppresses information that might diminish its power, like the invention of the printing press or electricity, it has a historical feel. The Library reminds me of the Catholic Church. (Not the modern one, but perhaps during the Renaissance.) When Jess crosses into Library territory in London, it's a lot like entering Vatican City from Rome. One of the things that I find so interesting is that the Church, along with all of the other world religions, still exists in this world. Because the world features alchemy and automatons, it's also a little bit Steampunk, which I love.

In addition to the incredible world building, I was really impressed with the action scenes in Ink and Bone (which is kind of surprising for a book about a library.) I also loved the politics and the fact that almost all of the students potentially had an ulterior motive for being there. Even though (or possibly because) the ending was a bit of a downer, I started Paper and Fire as soon as I finished.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley


4 1/2 stars

Paper and Fire
(The Great Library #2)
Rachel Caine
Release: July 5, 2016
In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

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… 

While the world building was the star of Ink and Bone, I thought the characters stood out in the sequel. Just when Jess got comfortable with his core group of friends, they were separated. Jess and Glain have been assigned to the Garda, Khalila and Dario to the Lighthouse as researchers, and Morgan and Thomas have been captured and either imprisoned or killed. Jess's goal now is to get the band back together without the Library discovering his plans.

I loved learning more about the different divisions of the Library, how alchemy functions in this world, and the conspiracy to suppress certain types of knowledge. I also loved the diverse characters that Caine introduces. But most of all, I love the politics. Jess and his friends believe in the Library's mission, to preserve the world's knowledge, but the leadership has become corrupt. They'll have to decide if they can change it from within or they'll have to defect.

Like Ink and Bone, this book was action-packed. Jess's military training has made him a little bit of a badass. And once again, the ending was a surprise. This time I'm pretty excited about where the characters are headed. And I'm bummed that I don't have the next book to start right away.

I'm not quite ready to leave the world of the Great Library, so I'm currently working my way through the shorts on Wattpad. They include deleted scenes from both books as well as prequel stories, like "Stormcrow" which tells how Wolfe and Santi met.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley


Thanks to the lovely folks at Penguin, we've got a paperback copy of Ink and Bone for one lucky reader. The book will ship from the publisher so it's U.S. only.

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