June 29 2021
Ink and Bone, by Rachel Caine
Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre/ issues: YA. Alternate history. Power and authority.
“Tota est scientia. Knowledge is all.”
I doubt this is a surprise to you – I love libraries. What they are, what they represent, and what they can offer the communities that they serve. The Library of Alexandria is a loss that strikes my soul hard every time I think about it. So when an instagram follower mentioned a series called The Great Library the other day, my library-senses tingled. After a quick google, I was hooked and went on a hunt for it! And whilst my local library is closed at the moment (because lockdown) my daughter-in-law works there and was able to pick up my reserved copy for me.
Oh boy. What a tale this is. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine presents a world in which the Library of Alexandria wasn’t destroyed, but instead preserved, and went on to become the centre of knowledge throughout the world – so much so that they control access to all books by way of a codex which distributes mirrors of the original to readers on their blank books. Owning books is not allowed, and Gutenberg’s revolutionary printing press was never invented … or rather, it’s invention was suppressed and destroyed before its treasonous goals could take hold.
Jess Brightwell is the son of a black-market book smuggler, and is sent to the Library to compete for the rare and valued position of Scholar. As the ranks of postulants thin, however, Jess discovers not only does he have friends that he wouldn’t have expected, but that the truth about the most revered institution in the world is even darker than he could have imagined.
I don’t know how I’ve not heard of this book or author before, but I’m glad I’ve found them now. It feels apt to have borrowed the first volume from the library, but I’ll be adding the whole series to my private collection very soon. Yay for libraries and an accessible printing process – because whilst books are precious and should be treasured, they should also be widely accessible.