Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen (Great Library, #5)

by Rachel Caine

Jess Brightwell and his friends have achieved the impossible: masterminded an uprising against the Great Library, and toppled its corrupt regime. But while the battle is won, the war is far from over.
A new Archivist must be crowned, one capable of weathering the political storm. With the Library reeling from the coup, foreign nations are circling, eager to plunder the world's knowledge. And the old Archivist, their despotic enemy, has fled into hiding and plots from the shadows. Threats could come from anywhere, at any time. Any of Jess's friends could be wounded or killed in an instant, and the future of the Library itself hangs in the balance.

Reviewed by sa090 on

5 of 5 stars


I can’t remember the last time I read a series of five books that stayed consistently amazing after the third book.


After the fourth book ended, I had no idea how Rachel Caine could possibly move on to a fifth book and still match that level of thrill, but it turns out I didn’t need to worry, she didn’t just match it, in my not so humble opinion, she easily exceeded it. In fact, I think that out of the five books she wrote for this series, Sword and Pen is my favourite one. The battle that took place in Smoke and Iron was not an easy one, many died and although I thought the pace might mellow down in this one a bit, I loved the fact that Rachel Caine kicked it up a notch instead. The thing I loved the most in this book, however, would be that every single remaining character from those we started out with had a role to play.

It wasn’t just some offhanded thing either, the roles were both felt and important. Jess and company were needed in different locations and doing different jobs that it felt so much longer than it actually was. From the workings in the library itself with Khalila, to Thomas and his inventions, Glain and Santi in the Grada, Morgan in the tower and Wolfe and the others all over the place. I’m truly in awe to how everything worked in small separate goals, before they merged into the big one at the very end. I have previously only see one author do that with a big cast and that was in the manga Pandora Hearts, but now I have thankfully found another. A small and very selfish wish though, I really need more Glain in my life :)

I really enjoy how Rachel Caine writes her characters, they feel like real people. I know that reading the previous will get me puzzling looks, but I don’t get to see that in many books. For example when female characters go through horrific experiences and still act like love sick idiots, I can easily detach myself from them because this is not how it works, even in fiction, realism in feelings and experiences is a must. With the Great Library series I thankfully don’t have to sigh or roll my eyes in annoyance, the characters are broken, they have chips in their armor and that doesn’t lessen them whatsoever. In fact, it only makes them grow in my eyes because despite all of their fears or pain, they just keep going.

I have a hard time accepting romance in YA, most of it just sucks or it take me as if I lack affection and will latch on to any drop of it. Ha ha, not this reader. In this series, the relationships are not progressing through the speed of light, they are diverse, they are with some form of basis and the partners are 100% respectful to each other. More importantly, they are not there to dampen the mood or to show one part of that relationship as an incompetent sap who is clueless without their significant other. Au contraire, if something doesn’t work with one side, they will make it known and I absolutely loved that. Can’t go in details, but there was an instance her that made me go “hell yeah, you got it right”.

The ending or the wrap up if you will, has got to be one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading through. Everyone got their deserving place and the Great Library will seemingly only get greater under its new leadership who by the way, was my only hope to ever ascend that throne.

I will definitely miss this series, I don’t know what else could replace it as my book-ish series since the Invisible Library is not working all that well for me, which I believe is mainly due to the world building bits. Rachel Caine raises the bar a little too high for that one, but we’ll see about that :)

Final rating: 5/5

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 6 September, 2019: Finished reading
  • 6 September, 2019: Reviewed