My tenth book in this month’s 12 in 12 Challenge is another fantasy novel. This series by Rachel Caine imagines a world where the great library at Alexandria was not destroyed in antiquity but continued to function as a repository of knowledge. Eventually it became corrupted until it became the only source of knowledge and began to control access to books it in order to control people and enhance its power.
When the series begins in Ink and Bone Jess Brightwell is a young man from a criminal background. His family trade in illicit books and his father encourages him to join the Great Library as a student in order to promote the family’s interests. As the series progresses Jess and his friends become more and more aware of the corruption of the library and convinced that they must do something about it. By this book, Smoke and Iron which is number 4 in the series the story has broadened and the narrative is told from the points of view of many of the characters as they start their plans for revolution.
This is a really excellent series, although you do need to read he books in order. I have very much enjoyed the way in which the author has built this world but also in how she has created three dimensional characters. Not everyone is totally good or totally bad. They each have different loyalties and these change as the story progresses. In this book Jess is torn between what he knows is right, his love for Morgan and residual feelings of loyalty for his family, especially his twin brother.
The idea of the book is really clever and we realise that it is not just Jess and his friends who are making a difference – a lot of other people want things to change but their end goal may not all be the same. The creation of this world is well developed and thought through and there are some clever touches such as the automatons which are truly chilling.
This series is a good read and I very much enjoyed this volume. It has set up the story nicely for the final book which I have already purchased – I want to see how it all ends and I am not entirely sure that I know what the author will do next.