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Paper and Fire: The Great Library (Book 2)

In the first novel of The Great Library series, Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine introduced us to some very complex characters living in a world that is in most ways, quite different from the one that we inhabit. The story centers on Jess Brightwell, son of a black market book dealer. Throughout Ink and Bone, Jess discovers a lot about himself, including a very stubborn streak. He’s an idealist who believes that everyone should be able to own books and that knowledge should be shared, not hidden away by those in power. Jess finds an unlikely mentor in Scholar Christopher Wolfe and a true love in fellow scholar Morgan Hault. Unfortunately, life is anything but ideal. At the end of Ink and Bone, Morgan has been locked in the Iron Tower, forced to work for the obscurists because of her amazing powers and Jess has been forced to keep his mouth shut about everything or the Library will frame him for the death of his best friend, Thomas. As if that weren’t enough, the Welsh army has London in flames and Jess’ family is in danger. As a final insult to injury, while the rest of his friends (what’s left of them) are all assigned to work for the Library after their training is complete, Jess is assigned to a year in the High Garda, as the lowest military soldier. At least he still gets to see one of his friends daily, Glain Wathen, since she’s now his commanding officer.

The second novel in The Great Library series, Paper and Fire, continues the story of this now small group of students and their mentor Christopher Wolfe. You might remember that Wolfe’s lover, Niccolo Santi, is a captain in the High Garda and his mother is the Obscurist Magnus (basically the head of the obscurists). This gives Wolfe some very strong allies, if you can really consider his mother an ally for the most part. Santi will always be there for him, which is a good thing because they both, along with Wolfe’s remaining students, are going to face a lot more trials than even before. To start with, Jess figures out that maybe Thomas isn’t actually dead. In this world, the Library controls everything, including all information. It’s pretty easy for them to make anyone that they want to disappear. Thomas is more useful to them alive, if he is carefully controlled like Wolfe was when he was locked up. The only difference is that Thomas doesn’t have a powerful mother to get him released. Luckily, Jess Brightwell will never give up on a friend, even if he thinks they are dead.

Once Jess has some sort of proof he’s not insane, he gets his friends together to see if they will help. If they do, it means the end of everything they have worked for in their lives so far. Glain has a promising military career, if she’ll stop being friends with Jess. Jess also contacts Khalila Seif and Dario Santiago to get their thoughts and advice. Kahlila is a full scholar on track to maybe end up the Archivist one day. She’s brilliant and talented. Even though she’s dedicated to the Library, she’s not one to let a friend down. Dario’s never really been a fan of Jess, but they made their peace and have a tentative friendship. Dario’s an assistant scholar working for a nice lady named Scholar Prakesh and Dario doesn’t hesitate to help Jess in their rescue attempts. Of course, Santi and Wolfe will end up involved as well. This only leaves one of their original group unaccounted for, Morgan Hault. Given that Morgan’s trapped in the Iron Tower, it’s nearly impossible for her to accompany them on this insane journey. Morgan’s quite a powerful obscurist though, and she also isn’t going to leave a friend trapped, even if she is trapped herself.

While the first book in the series introduced you to the characters and established the relationships, Paper and Fire extends those and explores the depths of friendships, family, and love. As we all have learned in life, sometimes friends are the best family you can have. Paper and Fire feels like it doesn’t have quite as much action as Ink and Bone and definitely less death, but it is excellently crafted to move the story into a new world, one that I cannot wait to read. If you’re looking for a fascinating series, check out the latest book, Paper and Fire today!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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