The Great Library controls all knowledge in a world that’s never known the printing press. Jess believes in the rule of the Library, even though his family has built their fortune selling forbidden books on the black market. When he’s sent to join the Library as a spy for his family, his passions only become stronger: to protect knowledge, to serve an agency created to bring that knowledge to the masses. But something dark and twisted has taken root at the core of the institution Jess loves, and as he’s faced with the horrible truth of it, he must decide where his true loyalties lie, and what is worth dying for.
I have to say that from the very beginning, before I even cracked the cover, I was fascinated with this book. For so many readers, the library represents comfort, safety, and one of the best parts of our childhoods. To see a series in which the villainous entity is in fact the most powerful library, our favored institution gone horribly wrong? Oh yes, I was totally hooked.
And then I read the opening pages. And I couldn’t stop. Jess had me immediately. This boy who lived in the shadow of his father, risking his life every day for one precious book at a time. Wow. Just wow. I loved that kid. Then, when he goes to training to join the Library, I worried I’d lose some interest in the story. It wasn’t where I expected the tale to take me, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to like those Library yahoos. And Caine did it again. Each twist and turn totally blew me away. Every time I met a character and thought, ehh, not sure I’m going to like that guy, the story turned, and I was surprised and further intrigued.
I’ve already got a copy of Paper and Fire for review. In fact, the publisher first sent me that one and then offered Ink and Bone, which I hadn’t yet read, so that’s how I ended up reading it. I CANNOT WAIT to start it. Like, I want to be reading it right now. You’ve heard enough about Ink and Bone, right? Just go get a copy if you haven’t already. Seriously.
Okay, maybe check the content notes first, because there is a bit of heavy stuff there.
Some intense kissing. At one point, a boy and girl lie next to each other to sleep. Jess discovers that two men are lovers—he doesn’t witness much in the way of romance between them, but they live together and the tenderness between them is clear.
Khalila is a practicing Muslim and mentions Allah. Catholicism is mentioned briefly in reference to burial rites.
As a child, Jess sees a giant mechanical lion crush innocent people to death. Later, Jess and his friends find themselves in a warzone where they witness firsthand some of its brutality. Rebels called Burners use Greek fire to light books and themselves ablaze. They also use it as a weapon against their enemies.
After a long ugly battle, the group reforms and shares wine (except Khalila.) Some members get drunk. Jess visits an establishment where tobacco and “other weeds” are smoked.
What Makes an Amazing Villain?
I love that in this series, the villain is something so unusual, something with such a positive connection to so many of us. What other stories have you read with unexpected villains? What do you think would make an interesting villain that you’ve never seen in a novel before?