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Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time. In 48 AD, a fire set by the troops of Julius Caesar destroyed much of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the first of several disasters that resulted in the destruction of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. But what if the fire had been stopped? What would the Library have become? Fast forward: the Great Library is now a separate country, protected by its own standing army. It has grown into a vast power, with unquestioned and unrivalled supremacy. Jess Brightwell, seventeen and very smart, with a gift for mechanical engineering, has been sent into the Great Library as a spy for his criminal family.

Reviews

5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Fast paced and imaginative YA novel

This is an exceptional young adult fantasy novel which takes many of the themes which we expect in such a novel and turns them into an exciting and original story.

 

This is an alternative world in which the great library at Alexandria was never destroyed and where all books are controlled by the Library which is now a state employing its own police as well as librarians. Jess comes from a family of book smugglers and he has obtained his place on a training scheme for potential library employees in order to assist his family. The group of young people brought together to train come from very varied backgrounds and are united in their hatred for their trainer and the harsh regime. As time progresses unlikely alliances are made and it turns out that nothing about the Library is quite what it seems.

In Jess the author has created an independently minded young man who is torn between his family and what he knows is right. He has a lot of useful skills but he comes to rely on his fellow trainees and their skills and friendship too. The author has created a diverse bunch of people in ways which are not very obvious at first. The argue and fall out and even betray each other but adversity strengthens them and they find that they have a common enemy in the increasingly sinister Library.

This is a hugely imaginative book which reads very like a steam punk novel -there are some automaton which are truly frightening.. The characterisation is great and there are some great set pieces. It is the plot that makes the book a success though as we move along at a great pace from one crisis to another not always knowing where we are going - an excellent read.

 
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