In the world of this novel, the Great Library of Alexandria still exists and those within its walls are in total control of what knowledge is passed on. Owning your own copy of a book is a crime, and those who challenge the way society is constructed can expect to be dealt with very harshly.
I loved the idea of this world, and was immediately drawn to the main character of Jess Brightwell. Jess is a curious hero. He is the son of a book smuggler and is well-used to risking his life. When he is sent to the Great Library to compete for a position as a scholar it soon becomes clear that he is now more at risk than ever.
Throughout the novel we see Jess develop as a character and come to trust his own judgement. Without ruining the plot, I could not believe what Jess uncovers and his disbelief is shared by us as we journey through the novel with him.
I also loved the character of Wolfe, their tutor. Initially brusque and unpleasant, we soon come to realise there is a lot more to this man than meets the eye. By the end of the novel I was firmly rooting for him and am certainly keen to get my hands on the sequel, Paper and Fire, due to be published in July 2016.