Ink and Bone is an alternate history novel, where The Library of Alexandria has expanded to all corners of the world. The Library controls the flow of knowledge with an iron fist. It’s illegal to possess original books and the only way to access literary knowledge is through the Library-issued ‘blanks’. These blank books can display books from the Library’s vast collection of originals. But it’s not the same as handling a real book.
The story follows Jess, who comes from a family of book smugglers. He loves books just as much as us readers, but to his family, books are the source of income. There is no sentimentality involved, unlike Jess’ relationship with books. Jess is sent to Alexandria to become a Library employee and inside man for his family. But things are more complicated than expected and he soon finds himself questioning what he thought were unquestionable truths.
The truth was what the Library wanted it to be.”
This first instalment of a five book series is about the power of knowledge and how greed can twist things into something completely unrecognizable. It explores the balance of power and how it affects the world. It’s about making hard choices and being thrown into a conspiracy you didn’t ask for.
The Library may have started out as a good idea paved with good intentions, but it turned into a place driven by the fear of change. It holds on to the ideals and methods of the past. The story as a whole is about how secrets and fear destroy, while displaying self-preservation as a survival mechanism in both the Library and the characters.
Ink and Bone features a diverse cast of characters from different cultures. Having people from different cultures going through the same hurdles creates a sense of unity despite the obvious differences. Regardless of the characters’ cultural backgrounds, they are expected to leave their countries behind and becoming loyal only to the Library and its traditions. It’s easier said than done, but through the course of the book, the students establish friendships.
It’s about finding out that what you thought was simple is in fact a lot more complicated. And how fragile the line between strength and weakness is.
He’d always thought knowing many things gave him strength. Now it made him feel vulnerable.”
It does a great job portraying the complexity of human nature and the lengths we’re willing to go to in order to survive. The story shows just how sinister the world can become if fear and secrets are allowed to fester. It tells a tale of the fear of change and the dangerous consequences of power addiction. I’m excited to continue on with the series. The second book, Fire and Paper, is already out, while the third book, Ash and Quill, comes out on July 11th.