Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine 
Berkley Books, 2018
Hardcover. 430 pages.

Note: This synopsis is for the fourth book in The Great Library series, so it may have soft spoilers for previous books.

About Smoke and Iron:
"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."

The Great Library series is one that just keeps getting better and better! If you've read any of my other reviews, then you'll know that I was pretty lukewarm about this series for the first two books, but I kept getting galleys of them somehow so I just kept reading (why not?) and I'm so glad I had that chance because now I absolutely love this series. Initially, I thought this was going to be a four-book series, but apparently there is still going to be one more book and I am more than okay with that.

This book is not in the epic fantasy genre, but it is still incredibly epic in scope and themes. In previous books, there were a lot of issues with pacing, with some books being too fast-paced and others that didn't move quite quick enough. With the previous book, Ash and Quill, and now this book, I think Caine has finally found her ultimate groove and has created a really well-rounded book, complete with incredible characters, a page-turning plot, and a great mix of action and calmer moments of discussion, planning, etc,

Rachel Caine is brilliant at developing characters and it's astounding to me how much all of these characters have grown on me and how much their personalities have developed. In Smoke and Iron we visit a few different POVs, but our main focus seem to be on Khalila, Jess, and Morgan, as those are the main three POVs we follow (though there are a few others here and there). Khalila has easily moved to the forefront of my favorite characters because of this book. I already liked her, but this book cemented just how incredible she is. She is beautiful, poised, tough, kind, not afraid to defend herself and her friends, always looking to do what's right--in short, she's basically a badass, but she does it with this incredible grace that I will never stop admiring.

Jess is pretty much in trouble with everyone in this book--especially his friends--for his crazy schemes, but everyone of course still loves him in the end. Jess has always been one of my least favorite characters, simply because I just haven't ever cared as much about him as others, but I still appreciate what he brings to the story. I was disappointed that we didn't get more of Brendan, Jess' twin, in this one, but Jess pretending to be Brendan was almost as good.

Morgan always seems to be thrust into some of the worst positions possible, but she takes them all with strength and determination and never stops trying to help the gang's goals. Morgan is another character that has really grown on me and I've loved seeing her own personal development throughout this series. I wish we could have seen more of Darrio, Glaine, and Thomas, but I also understand that they have had more of a focus in past books and might still in the next book. Wolfe and Santos are also still big players and I just love their relationship--it's truly inspirational and a beautiful example of love that undergoes countless obstacles, but always endures.

Caine continues to constantly throw surprises at us and is not pulling any punches in this book. Your heart will go from despair to anger to hope to heartbreak to suspense and all the way around in endless loops--but it's awesome. The automata continue to be an incredibly interesting invention and I enjoyed seeing more of Morgan's Obscurist powers be put to use and explored as a big part of this installment.

The most prominent part of this series, for me, is the overarching theme of knowledge and the public's access to knowledge. This is, of course, what the entire series is about, but each book just hammers it home and goes deeper into this topic as the books progress and things become more and more dangerous and intense. Although the world systems int his book are very different from our own, it is still incredible relevant and touches upon some crucial topics that I feel should be discussed as often as the characters in this book discuss them. This is a series that I really think is underrated and I would love to see more people try out. I'll admit I had a hard time getting into it, but once you hit your groove it really takes off.

Overall, I've given Smoke and Iron 4.5 stars! I cannot wait to see how this all wraps up.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I received a copy of Smoke and Iron courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*

You might also like:
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Scythe by Neal Shusterman


  1. I feel bad that I stopped reading this after book one, which I loved by the way! Good to know the series stays strong.

    1. It definitely does! I almost stopped after the second, but I'm so glad I decided to give it another try.

  2. Glad to hear this is a great series that keeps getting better! I just recently won the whole series (so far!) and I'm hoping to tackle it in the near future!