With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it’s worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.
The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.
I am not sure any of the words that follow are going to be enough to adequately express my feelings regarding this book and this series as a whole. Sword and Pen is the culmination of The Great Library series and not only was it worth the wait, it was worth all the pain, anguish, moments of love, happiness, despair, and uncertainty. I could NOT have asked for more than I got from this book and certainly could NOT have asked for more from an author or series.
As Sword and Pen opens, the world is on the brink of collapse and the future of the Great Library is precarious, at best. The old corrupt Archivist is on the run with his faithful lackies and looking to regain control of the Great Library, allies are hard to come by, and even if it kills them Jess, Wolfe, Santi, Thomas, Glain, Dario, Morgan, and Khalila are more than determined than ever to see the world righted and the Great Library stand, once again, as the beacon of hope and knowledge it has been for thousands of years.
For the first time in the series, most of the members of the group are truly separated from one another as each has his/her own particular skill set that is being called upon relentlessly and endlessly. Though their paths cross frequently, each must accept the separation as a necessary evil meant to help the world and not just a few individuals. While each is certainly never far from the other’s minds, there is work to be done and the enemies, both known and unknown are set to strike at any moment. Khalilia is now highly position within the Great Library, Morgan is scarily working her magic in the Iron Tower, Thomas is in charge of the city’s defenses, Santi is in charge of and directing all military forces, Glain is happily back in uniform with the High Garda, Dario is skulking about as only he can, and Jess and Wolfe are on the trail of the betrayer. Every task, every decision, every action, and every moment of inaction is aimed at several goals: find and neutralize the old Archivist, turn away the enemies at the gate, and establish order in the city.
From moment to moment, each of the group is in mortal danger and well aware of the situation. They have survived to this moment and if they’re going to survive this final assault, it is going to take every ounce of courage, every ounce of knowledge, and every ounce of cunning they can muster. As luck would have it, each member of the group not only has a unique skill set, but the ability to think far, far, far outside the box. Khalilia is in fine form with her intellect and determination, Thomas is pure genius with his weapons and mechanically-oriented mind, Morgan is scary with her ever-increasing power, Santi is bound and determined no one will take the city under his watch, Dario is masterful in his deceptions, and Jess, Glain, and Wolfe are focused on the utter destruction of the old Archivist which takes them a long, winding, and dangerous journey. It isn’t until the final moments, the ultimate battle that the group, as a whole reunites to defeat their enemies.
The Bottom Line: The long and the short of it is this: there are few books and series I have read in my 40+ years of reading that have stood out so strongly in my heart and mind. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, this book and this series is all that is good and right in contemporary literature. This series is truly a saga and it is so strong on every level and in every aspect. From the plot, to the characters (most of whom are KIDS), to the richly imagined and brilliantly delivered settings, this book and series has something for everyone. Though fiction, this series truly reflects so much of human history and our struggle to know and control knowledge, to make free all knowledge or to suppress that which is deemed harmful to society. The Great Library series is a fictional representation of our world, our history, and if we don’t learn from the mistakes of our past, out future. I feel so very fortunate to have stumbled upon this series several years ago and ma thankful for the planning, editing, and reworking that had to go into this series to make it what it is, a truly exceptional bit of reading. Tota est scientia!
Dario: Coming back to his room always made Dario feel warm and safe; it was a good view of the harbor, spacious, and plenty of room for his work desk and clothes closet. He stopped at the desk first, sat, and wrote in his Codex. He addressed the message to his cousin, Alvaro Santiago; there was no indication that it would be reviewed by sharp-eyed Obscurists and High Garda, but he was certain it would happen. So he began with an entirely heartfelt entreaty to stop the bombardment of the city, invoking family loyalty as much as he felt would be appropriate, and after that, he used a particular curl of his pen. It was the signal, in the language of Spanish spies, to switch to a particularly clever code, one devised by a mathematician who’d refused to study at the Alexandrian University or have anything at all to do with the Great Library. He’d been a rebel, that one; his writings were interdicted and difficult to find, even with a Scholar’s clearance. But generations of Spanish diplomats had used his particular code, and as far as Dario knew it had never been cracked. The virtue was that it was not the words themselves that mattered, but the height of each letter. It demanded precision on the part of the writer, certainly, but if executed properly it could be a nearly invisible and undetectable way to convey hidden information.
So while he wrote, My loyalty is entirely to the Great Library, as you must surely know; I have been granted a gold band and a lifetime appointment, and this must direct my actions moving forward, he knew that what he was actually conveying was My loyalty is to Spain, and I seek an opportunity to speak with you. Send instructions. He only used the code sparingly, for simple things like this, and he knew his cousin was sharp enough to spot it. Whether or not Alvaro would believe it, or comply, was another matter entirely. But he believed it was possible. At the very least, Alvaro would want to explore the idea that they had a well-placed asset within the city … and one with the ear of the new Archivist. And her new assistant, he thought, and felt a flush of shame at what he was doing. Khalila might understand; she was, like him, a child of politics. But at the same time, he was very much afraid she might not.
Still. He knew where his duty lay, and he could not apologize for it. He, of all of them, understood the fragility of the Great Library, and the might of the kingdoms who surrounded her on every side. The only thing that had protected the ancient city was the legend, the glittering façade that covered the rot.
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