Jess, Khalila, Glain and Dario are now working for the Library – but working knowing that their lives hang by a thread and the Archivist is just looking for an excuse. While the last members of their group – Morgan and Thomas – are imprisoned. Morgan fights for freedom – and Thomas may be already dead.
Together they need to free their friends and somehow escape the Library’s incredible power and reach
I am just going to repeat all my endless praise for the world building of this book that I said during the first book review of Ink and Bone. Because it’s still awesome
I do love how the characters look on their battles with the library. Because they don’t want to destroy it, they don’t want to bring it down. They want, desperately, passionately, for the Library to be what it should be – the excellent, shining force for good. It should be this place which can protect knowledge, spread knowledge and advance the whole world. We have wonderful looks back into the past where the Library stood against all kinds of discrimination (as I’ll come to, the cast is wonderfully diverse), where the Library passionately resisted control of nations for the sake of knowledge for its own sake.
But despite all that they have come a long way from those original routes. As the Library became more and more about power. Defending Library independence from national control has changed to them outright taking over, destroying and controlling nations in the name of Library Power. We find whole stashes of books they are not only hording, but actively suppressing (we learn that the printing press has pretty much been invented dozens of times over centuries and each time has been viciously suppressed by the Library – Thomas and Wolfe are not the only ones by a long way. After all, the press is a relatively simple invention).
Through this, in some ways, even the enemies they fight are not entirely demonised. They horde those books even though they’d ban them and not read them – because even then destroying them is an anathema to everything they stand for. They legitimately think they’re a force for good even as their actions in the name of that good go ever darker. Which is why the whole struggle of the gang not WANTING to burn it all down – but desperately wanting to make it better.
This all couples with an excellent storyline full of complexities and machinations. The Library can’t just make them disappear because of Wolfe’s political influence through his mother, but they can slowly set more and more traps circling in on them. The characters struggle to uncover the many secrets of the Library, desperately try to free Thomas all the while knowing that the Library officials are constantly trying to kill them and they had to find some way to escape this nearly impossible situation. It’s a great story with lots of twists and the characters coming together facing impossible odds. And all of the history of the Library in this alternate world is fascinatingly