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 ammaarah on

5 of 5 stars

"Dying in the sun was always better than dying in the dark, wasn't it." (Jess Brightwell)

Smoke and Iron continues after the events of that dreadful cliffhanger in Ash and Quill and the stakes are extremely high. I was on the edge of my seat worrying about the characters and hoping that their daring and risky plans would succeed.

Unlike the previous books in The Great Library series, Smoke and Iron is told mainly from Jess's, Khalila's, Wolfe's and Morgan's PoV and I expected this outcome after the characters were separated in Ash and Quill. It's a rare thing for me to say, but I enjoyed all the PoV's equally because they each brought something different to the table and aided in the overall story progression.

Jess is a likable character, but he's a little bland in Smoke and Iron. This is mainly because his brother, Brendan, and the indirect effect of him pretending to be Brendan, steals his thunder. For me to get so upset after Neska's murder and feel Brendan's grief, anger and recklessness after only knowing his character for a short period of time, is a great feat.

I also enjoyed Khalila's character arc and her realisation that she's a leader and a diplomat. She's kind and sweet, but she wouldn't hesitate to fight for her beliefs. She's also a practising Muslim and a hijabi and I'm so glad that she isn't mocked because of her religion, nor does she mock her own religion. I wish I could have read about characters like Khalila when I was younger. Khalila has my full approval if she chooses to become the next Archivist.

Dario, Glain and Thomas are lovable characters for different reasons and have important roles to play, but they feel like side characters in Smoke and Iron. On the other hand, Morgan becomes a little more fleshed out in Smoke and Iron, but I'm tired of her I'm-better-than-everyone attitude.

In Smoke and Iron, I fell even more in love with the ship that is Wolfe and Santi. The love and devotion that they have for each other is unmatched. I also love that Khalila gives Dario such a hard time and knocks him down a couple pegs, whenever she gets a chance, just to keep him humble. Jess and Morgan are separated for the most part of Smoke and Iron and it's such a blessing because I didn't have to deal with their bland, cardboard romance. When it comes to those two, pining from a distance is the most I can handle.

Smoke and Iron has everything a book should have. A unique world, complex plots and schemes, characters that you can't help but root for and friendships that will stand the test of time.

I have no idea how Sword and Pen is going to top Smoke and Iron.
"The Great Library had survived the march of time. It gave him some hope that he might survive his day inside it." (Jess Brightwell)

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Reading updates

  • 25 November, 2018: Started reading
  • 27 November, 2018: Finished reading
  • 27 November, 2018: Reviewed