Rachel Caine’s Great Library series reminds me of Fullmetal Alchemist, and that’s a great thing

The Great Library is great

Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine

I just finished reading through an advance copy of Paper and Fire, book two in Rachel Caine’s Great Library series, and I can’t stop thinking how much I enjoyed it. A lot of the time I’ll rush through a book extremely fast to get the core of it and move on, but this one I savored, just like I savored Ink and Bone (the first book in the series). But I couldn’t figure out why the series kept hitting all the right notes for me. What is it about the Great Library I love so much?

Then I started rewatching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood with my family and it hit me. The Great Library has pulled me so deep because it reminds me of FMA, which sill stands as one of my favorite stories of all time and one of the richest worlds I’ve spent time in.

Paper and Fire and Alchemy

Awesome to finally get to introduce my family to this fun world.

Awesome to finally get to introduce my family to this fun world.

On first glance Rachel Caine’s series might not look all that much like the world of Edward Elric and his armor-bound brother Alphonse. Paper and Fire doesn’t have a bunch of magical-science-wielding kids hurling spears they made from the ground with mechanical arms. There’s magic of a sort, sure–teleportation chambers and blank books that mirror text and alchemical formulae that make automatons come to life–but it’s nowhere near as prevalent in The Great Library as it is in Fullmetal Alchemist. You don’t need magic action to craft a deep story about young adults discovering the corruption in the world and fighting back from within, though. And that’s exactly what both Fullmetal Alchemist and The Great Library do, to amazing effect.

Rachel Caine’s series puts our book-smuggling hero Jess back on the front lines of government plots and battles that can have no real victor once again. He sees the futility of war, realizes how power has corrupted his world, and wants to change things from within. And, while the government tolerates and manipulates and uses him and his friends as chess pieces in its deadly games, he does everything to take care of his people. All this should sound familiar to fans of Fullmetal Alchemist, and I can guarantee you that Rachel Caine is doing just as good a job with her story as Fullmetal did with its.

"We're all just paper on a shelf, in the end." - Rachel Caine, Paper and Fire

“We’re all just paper on a shelf, in the end.” – Rachel Caine, Paper and Fire

To top it off, the Great Library’s magic is founded in alchemy, too. Those of you who know me know I’ve got a huge affinity for that whole mythos–alchemy even plays a huge role in my upcoming YA debut, The Outs, though it’s a very different take on the concept from start to finish. I don’t know whether Ms. Caine has traipsed down those same research paths, but I totally loved her work as much as I love my own, and that’s saying something!

In short, if you are or ever were a fan of Fullmetal, you owe it to yourself to dive into Rachel Caine’s world, too. You won’t regret it.

Paper and Fire Giveaway!

And to that end, I’ve got a few advance copies of Paper and Fire to give away to subscribers, as well! Follow the link to enter to get your own early copy.

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“Thoughts untangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertips.”

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series TAIsdays

Think About It – Dr. Howard Hendricks

“Thoughts untangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertips.”

– Dr. Howard Hendricks

thoughts untangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertipsI figured I’d start out our Thought-Provoking Thursdays with a quote that’s dear to my heart. Dr. Howard Hendricks, a man I and the rest of my classmates affectionately called “Prof,” was one of the most influential people in my life. This little nugget was particularly impactful when I heard it, and gave even more validity to the value I already placed on writing and intelligent conversation.

Thoughts Untangle Themselves

The simple truth here is that our nonverbal brains are really just a bunch of chaotic firing neurons. Our thoughts don’t have anything nearly like structure, they just “are.” Each thought is like someone tossing a rubber bouncy ball  into our skull, and it’s going to end up somewhere…we’re just not sure where.

That is where language comes in. The structure of language, whether it be the written word or the spoken one, or even, in many cases, the inner monologue, all give form to the thoughts that would otherwise bounce around free in our brains. Language forces the thoughts to untangle themselves.

We take the act of engaging language very much for granted. It starts young, and then, as our brains develop in childhood, we develop questions, the inner monologue, abstract logic, etc.–all a function of language.

So why point this out?

Because language is one of the greatest tools we have in our toolbox for figuring out solutions, driving out concerns, planning our next steps, and conceiving new ideas. For me, as a writer, I find that when I’m stuck in my work the very best way out is to talk through what I’m doing, and where I want to go. Sometimes this happens with a friend, sometimes with a pen in hand, sometimes it just happens through my fingers on the keyboard, or speaking into dictation software.

Giving a voice and structure to my thoughts is the greatest weapon I have against writer’s block (though I prefer to call it “writer’s anxiety”), and it is the driving force behind whether I will keep working or get stuck in the swamps. When I give them form, I find that the thoughts tend to untangle themselves.

What about you? Do you use your words to help work through the thoughts in your head, or do you tend to internalize? Are you a talker? Why?

Bad people do bad things. #firesoffear #quotes

Listen, baby, I tried to tell you before: bad people do bad things. That’s just the way it is. You can try to blame someone, you can try to take responsibility and fix all the hurt in the world, but it won’t change the fact that there are bad people, and they do what they do.

–Nan Childers – The Fires of Fear, by E.S. Wesley

Mama Nan, Bad Things

“Listen, baby, I tried to tell you before: bad people do bad things. That’s just the way it is. You can try to blame someone, you can try to take responsibility and fix all the hurt in the world, but it won’t change the fact that there are bad people, and they do what they do.” -Nan Childers – The Fires of Fear, by E.S. Wesley