Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron (Great Library, #4)

by Rachel Caine

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making...if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

Reviewed by sa090 on

4 of 5 stars

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

It’s always awesome when an author is consistent with the enjoyment delivered from their books despite obviously not being perfect.


Finished this several days ago, but it seems that July will be just as annoying of a month as June was motivation wise. Anyways, this series is one of my absolute favourites for sure from my reads of 2017, and it’s so easy for me to remember that feeling after the first few chapters. Because of how long ago I actually read it, alongside the fact that I read quite a bit of books afterwards, it took a bit to remember where we’re starting here but once we did start, it was just one build up after another to lead to the grand finale. Personally, I didn’t think that Rachel Caine would end it the way she did in this book because it’s not the end, there is a fifth on the way in 2019 if I’m not mistaken but with the way she took it here, our protagonists are going to be in very deep trouble next time and I honestly have no idea how long of a book she plans to write to include everything.

Because the group is functioning from different starting points and working towards different objectives for the plot, this book was the first one where we actually see different perspectives and not just Jess’s. This to me was a blast of fun because one of my favourite characters got her own more than well deserved POV in it as well. Of course, not every single chapter allocated to certain characters felt that needed given my very selfish desire to see other aspects too, but overall it was a very nice approach and better yet, it didn’t actually feel like there is any disjointed feel to the storytelling, everything felt like it was flowing in the same direction. Now these few POVs also managed to add extra sides to some of the characters in them, saying extra sides is a bit off here since it sort of implies that they didn’t have much to begin with, but in a way, it reaffirmed the sides we’ve seen from these characters in different lights and expanded on them which was pretty cool imo.

Still wished Glain got a bigger role though, this girl is a monster and I’d like to see it in details please, moreover, her friendship with Khalila was great to see. Although I’m not one to care all that much about diversity, AS LONG as I have a compelling and engaging story, this book (and by extension series) has a cast full of it. Different nationalities, sexual orientations and religions without one of them being there to display it in full. Meaning, you know how in some books, the diversity aspect takes priority and some authors sacrifice the plot and everything with it to display said diversity? None of that here, it’s just a natural collection of people from different parts of the world and whatever that brings with it, which to me was really refreshing.

Usually her pace is one of the greatest things about her writing for me, because it makes everything make sense in the end based on the handles events, but in this book in particular I think it kind of made it feel like some events could’ve been handled a little bit better to make them count. There are deaths in this book like all the ones before it, but because of the mess of a situation she put our protagonists in, most of the deaths meant nothing to me. Sometimes I didn’t even know a death has happened until I reread the passage because of how fast it happened in the middle of everything. Realistically, it works, but emotional value wise, it didn’t.

One of the things I’m most grateful about in this book though, is the world building of parts I’ve never seen like this before. Thanks to the split up, the characters get the chance to visit some places we’ve never seen before and/or visit some places in greater details which was fun to read for me. Also, we got to see more automaton ingenuity and a bigger look into the abilities that are in this world which is just fantastic. There were a couple of situations where I thought the issue was resolved a little too easily tbh, but overall minor details compared to how fun of a read this was for me.

I honestly wonder why books like these don’t get picked up for adaptations when way lesser books are all over the place, meh.

Final rating: 4/5

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 14 July, 2018: Finished reading
  • 14 July, 2018: Reviewed