Brandon Sanderson – The Scrivener’s Bones

brandonsanderson-thescrivenersbonesIn this second Alcatraz adventure, Alcatraz finds himself on a mission to meet Grandpa Smedry when he gets swept up by a flying glass dragon filled with his unusual and mouthy Smedry cohorts.

Their mission? A dangerous, library-filled one, of course!

They are on their way to the ancient and mysterious Library of Alexandria (which some silly people think was long ago destroyed!) where they must find Grandpa Smedry, look for clues leading to Alcatraz’s potentially undead dead father, and battle the creepy, dangerous soul-sucking curators who await them.

The Scrivener’s Bones is the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs. the Librarians series. For those familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy writing, be aware, these books are completely unlike those. This series is a zany, mad-cap adventure series aimed at a middle grade audience and the humour Sanderson includes in it will probably not work for everyone, especially if they are expecting books in the vein of the Stormlight Archive or the Mistborn books. 

While you could read The Scrivener’s Bones without (or before) reading the first book, Alcatraz vs. the Librarians, you’ll get more out of this second book if you read them in order. Alcatraz returns to share his autobiography in his own unique style, which means that there are again many silly asides and groan-worthy puns to discover. In addition, Alcatraz’s philosophical penchant comes to the fore in his chapter openings where he returns several times to the concept of truth and reality. He proclaims himself a liar, but if he is a liar, how can you trust his story? Again and again, Alcatraz says he is writing his autobiography to convince the reader he is not a hero, that he isn’t a good person. He even goes so far as comparing himself to Theseus’ ship, his planks having been changed so often nothing remains of the original. As a reader I found myself wondering at what had happened to Alcatraz to make him dislike himself so much.

Beyond this character-building to benefit Alcatraz’ series arc, Sanderson does some serious world-building in the background of Alcatraz’s running around with his family in the Free Kingdoms. If the main theme of the first book was his discovery of his family and what it means to be part of one, the second book is all about discovering more about his Talent and exploring the Free Kingdoms. I loved that Alcatraz not only learns to control his power, but even to appreciate it. Through his Uncle Kaz he learns more about the theory of the Talents and the powers of the various Lenses and Bastille teaches him about the more practical side of the Lenses’ application. And in the bowels of the Library of Alexandria he discovers more on both the Talents and the Incarna, the legendary folk living on Earth before it got divided into Hushlands and Free Kingdoms.

And with that we’ve landed at my favourite thing about this book: the Library of Alexandria, first of its kind and the great-grandaddy of all libraries. I loved the way Sanderson imagined its survival into the twenty-first century and the way the Librarians keep it hidden. The ghostly, undead Librarians that guard the endless stacks were just awesome and I loved the intricate rules they enforced in the Library. Those were really funny, especially as they played with many of the librarian stereotypes.

The Scrivener’s Bones is Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones at the Library of Alexandria, with bonus undead, floaty skulls. I had such fun with this bonkers adventure and I was really glad I could pick up the next one immediately.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.