Ink and Bone: The Great Library

Ink and Bone: The Great Library by Rachel Caine

The series is off to a great start, and as a read I was thrilled that character development early in the series do not mean this book lacked adventure.  The foundation for future books is solidly laid: some secrets are revealed, more are hinted at, heartbreak happens, revenge is promised, and a foundation of upcoming plot twists appear to be laid.  Jess is a book smuggler in a world that makes owning books a crime and he is sent to the library to hopefully become a scholar and inside source for his family’s business.   Along his journey he meets a wide cast of characters that he (and the reader) grow attached to.  Jess starts to realize The Library has secrets, but has not yet figured them all out.  Placed by his mentor in an undesirable position time and time again he finds his way through and starts to realize his own strength.  Heartbreak and disappointment are dealt to all the characters when they are told Thomas has died the night before appointments.  Friends pull together to help Jess overcome the heartbreak of having Morgan taken into custody, because Jess accidentally spilled the beans without realizing he was doing it. In the end, the book could have been a one off, but thankfully there will be more of the characters in books to come.

Character List/Book Summary:

Jess Brightwell = older of the twins, loves to read and loves books, from London, starts to realize the world is different than London, his family, and The Library lead him to “feel”. Thinks many people in his life use him. Falls in love with Morgan, but has heartbreak when he realizes they will never be together. Offered a one year contract with The Library in the Garda.

Callum Brightwell = Jess’s father, sends Jess to The Library as a “spy” for Brendan to take over the business, but is aware of The Library’s moves before Jess in some instances.

Liam = Jess’s older brother who was caught running books for the family, kept silent as to who he was and Callum did not claim him, Jess was told he hung for the crime of having a book.

Brendan = Jess’s twin, knows Jess going to The Library means never seeing him again, cruel deal maker, has twists in his plans, Jess thinks he can trust him but starts to think otherwise during the course of the book.

Thomas Schreiber = from Berlin, meets Jess on the train to The Library, wants to be an engineer, scored high than Jess on the exam, “died” after showing Jess his invention of a printing press, physically huge, but soft touch and first friend Jess makes among the fellow postulants.

Khalila Seif = Jess meets her on the train, 1st person in history to have a perfect score on the exam, Arab, appointed to a lifetime Research Scholar position in The Library.  Smart, finds comfort with Dario, and tells Jess the truth in a kind manner even when he doesn’t want to hear it or admit it.

Nasir = Khalila’s uncle who accompanies her to the Alexandrian border

Glain Wathen = meets Jess on the train, Welsh, a fighter in Jess’s eyes, becomes a friend to Jess without either of them realizing they are friends and tries to comfort him when Morgan’s secret is revealed and Jess is heartbroken. Appointed to Training Sargent in the High Garda.

Scholar Christopher Wolfe = takes in the incoming postulants, has 6 slots to fill, merciless task master, knows Morgan’s secret and Jess’s family business, was saved through family connections in The Library when he created a printing press idea, close relationship with Santi. Unclear his plans for Jess, but recognizes his skill and how he could be helpful.

Dario Santiago = Jess’s roommate during training for The Library, Spaniard, butts heads with Jess from the get go, cares about Khalila, respects Jess’s fighting ability and Jess respects his but each refuse to openly call each other a friend.  Appointed Scholar and will be in the same location as Khalila.

Izumi Himura = slender Japanese postulant who was unable to transport, therefore she failed out of the class.

Obscursits = maintain The Library’s Codex, provide the spark to power the automata that guard daughter libraries. Must remain in the Iron Tower their entire lives.

Morgan Hault = postulate form Oxford, came several weeks late due to the war in her area, an obscurist that tries to erase her ability from record and escape instead of being locked in the Iron Tower, unclear if she truly cares for Jess or if she was using him as Jess suspected.  I lean towards she cares for him, and hopefully it will be clear in future books.  Is not able to escape and is forced into being an Obscurist and the Iron Tower.

Guillaume Danton = postulate, did not survive the emergency transport, Jess suspects it was due to his family being burners and that it was done on purpose, but is told by Wolfe and Santi that he should not write about that or say it aloud ever again.

Captain Niccol Santi = Wolfe’s High Garda shadow, close acquaintance, and cares about the postulants and helping them survive as much as he cares about keeping Wolfe safe

Abdul Nejem = Jess stole a book from his house in Alexandra for his family, and then a few days later searched the house for contraband for The Library, this is when Jess starts to suspect Brendan and/or his father have a source inside The Library if they know the moves before they happen.

Nabeeha Nejem = Abdul’s wife who tries to get the two out of the situation when contraband are found

General Warlow = Welsh, will not hinder but will not help Wolfe and the postulates on their trip

William Smith = English, in charge of the Oxford defense, gives Wolfe and the postulates the day to get as many books out as they can. Tells the town people that extra rations would be given to those that bring Wolfe and his party to him alive after a few hours in Oxford.

Senior Librarian Naomi Ebele = Senior Librarian in Oxford who found the cache of books in the basement and called Alexandria for help

Frederick = Jess’s cousin who helps the party escape Oxford, warns Jess to watch out for Brendan he knows his twin is up to something but not sure what and is not sure Brendan will care that Jess is his twin in his twisty plans


Sayings and Doctrines mentioned that may be important in future books:

“Vita hominis plus libro valet” = A life is worth more than a book. The Burner’s motto.

“Tota est scientia” = Knowledge is all. The Library’s motto.

Doctrine of Mirroring = Magister Akkadeci, 2nd leader of the Great Library created this, any book/scroll/document may be treated by the Library and transferred to a blank, giving the reader a copy while protecting the original.

Doctrine of Ownership = made it illegal to own books, only blanks


One thought on “Ink and Bone: The Great Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s