Monday, September 2, 2019

Review: Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen (The Great Library, #5)
Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine
Berkley Books
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
Hardcover. 368 pages

About Sword and Pen:

"With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it's worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series. 

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble."

This series has gotten better and better with each book and this final installment is no exception to that pattern. I remember reading Ink and Bone and feeling very ambivalent about it--it was a rough start, but there was enough in there that I was still interested in the series. It was honestly just a stroke of luck (or fate?) that I received an ARC of the second book on NetGalley, decided to give it a shot, and eventually fell in love with everything about the series.

I tend to struggle with writing reviews for books that are finales or far into a series beacuse I'm not sure how to go into detail without also giving away spoilers for everything leading up to it. Because of that, I'll try not to go into specifics, but please be forewarned that if you haven't read this series or caught up to this book, there will probably still be minor spoilers for previous books in this series. I'll have no spoilers for this book, though!

Sword and Pen picks up shortly after the events of the previous books with all of our favorite characters struggling to protect the future of the Great Library. Everyone has grown up and matured so much since the story started out in Ink and Bone and it's honestly been one of the most satisfying and enjoyable experiences that I've read in a while. Jess, Morgan, Dario, Khalila, Santi, Thomas, Glain, and Wolfe are all present and continue to shine in the best ways possible. I love their relationships with one another and how they work together despite having so many contrasting personalities and entirely unique perspectives on their world. I love the grudging hate-yet-respect-friendship between Dario and Jess, the complications in the relationship between Jess and Morgan--rather than the usual 'completely in love with no problems' scenario you see in most books--the gradual yet passionate blossoming love between Dario and Khalila, and of course the beautiful partnership of Wolf and Santi.

Khalila, Thomas, Wolfe, and Santi remain my favorite characters, though Dario is also one that's grown on me a lot over the last few books and I can't help but love him. Khalila is the most elegant, intelligent, eloquent, badass woman I've come across in fiction in a while and I absolutely love how she handles herself in these books and in every situation and continues to grow into her new roles and abilities. Jess continues to be a character that I can't say I've ever really liked, but I still have a respect for him that leaves me attached to him as a character and it's been an incredibly wild ride following him on this adventure.

The stakes are incredibly high at pretty much every moment of this book and it left me feeling highly anxious for everyone all the time--it's stressful! There is a great mix of high-intensity action scenes interspersed within scenes that more seriously explore some of the many incredible themes that are present in this series. I've also loved this rather abstract and highly complex magic system that exists, especially concerning Obscurists and the sort of powers that Morgan works with. The potential in these areas is unlimited and I would love to just spend time exploring more of it even after everything's that happened--and especially after one particular thing that happens in this book near the end.

Sword and Pen continues to dive deeper into the idea of ownership over knowledge and who should have access to what types of it and so on. These are the themes and ideas that I have most loved diving into and exploring with all of these characters that I love. There's also something special about how Caine incorporates messages of hope and optimism into some horrifying and entirely gloomy situations. There's violence and hatred and unblievably dangerous tensions at play, but there's also this overwhelming presence of hope that conveys the notion that nothing is ever lost and that words and ideas and a desire for truth and freedom will always be around somewhere.

Overalll, I've given this epic conclusion to an equally epic series five stars! I wish I could stay in this world and continue to learn more as our characters continue to grow, but I'm more than satisfied with the story we've been given. I am already wanting to go back and re-read this series from the beginning to remember how much it grows and evolves over time.

*I received an ARC of Sword and Pen courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

1 comment:

  1. I regret not continuing this series after book two. I just loved both books but got bogged down by so many other things to read, I just had to make choices. Glad it wraps up on a high note!