If you fell in love with Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes earlier this year and are looking to bridge the gap between now and the glorious day when the sequel is released, then Ink and Bone is an excellent choice for you. It’s got the same feel to it, the same Middle Eastern desert-y type world, with some decent characters, a very bad baddie and a fast-paced plot. You will not be bored with this one.
In an alternate 2025, the Great Library has survived the test of time, and along with it, the ruling that no original books can be owned by anyone apart from the Library. Using alchemy, the library can create mirrored copies of books for public use and also transport coveted originals as they please. Our protagonist, Jess, comes from a family of book smugglers who sell rare originals to the rich, some of whom are so perverted about owning a real book that they eat them.
Yeah, that was creepy and awesome.
Jess is a decent character; he has a strong love for books and knowledge and is badass enough without being a dick about it. He doesn’t really fit in with him family though, as he feels that all they do is use him to smuggle books. So when his father offers to use him some more by sending him to spy in the Great Library, he doesn’t hesitate. Sure, he’s still being used, but at least he’s being used away from his family.
The plot of this book is honestly amazing. There isn’t a dull moment, and there’s a perfect balance between action and reflection. True, the characterisation could have been better (I loved Wolfe, but he was the only one who really stood out), and the magic system could have been properly explained. I mean, when you say alchemy I picture old timey labs and philosopher’s stones, not actual magic, but still. I still gave it a high rating because I loved the plot, I loved the alternate history, and the characters were solid enough for me to get on board. And at the end of the day, it was a story about why books are practically sacred, and of course I love that shit.