Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron by Rachel CaineSmoke and Iron (The Great Library #4)
Rachel Caine
Published on July 3, 2018

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About Smoke and Iron
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.

My Review
As a huge fan of the Great Library series, I could not wait to get my hands on SMOKE AND IRON. This has been one of those series where I want so much to rush through to the end (why are there FIVE books and not THREE?!) but also where I can’t help treasuring every page of it. At the end, I’m sure I’ll be asking why there are ONLY five books. Ha.

Jess had me from the opening pages of book one. He’s crafty and clever, as you’d expect a smuggler to be, but he has a strong sense of morality and loyalty, too. This time, though, my favorite parts were the ones from Khalila’s point-of-view. I loved getting a more in-depth look at her relationship with Dario, the handsome and often flippant Spanish king’s cousin, and I found the way her mind works to be really engaging and fascinating. Totally different than Jess. Wolfe’s point-of-view didn’t feel as critical to the story, and it’s a bit darker, as he’s a darker character, but again, he has a very well-defined voice, and I ultimately find him very likeable, too.

The plot is pretty straightforward: this is the battle to take control of the Library and return it to its core purpose: preserving knowledge, while removing the corrupt leadership. Jess and his team have a plan, but it has a lot of moving parts and a lot of things can go wrong, which means they do! With ever-climbing stakes, and time running out, Jess and his friends race toward the final confrontation, and I could not stop turning page after page to find out what would happen.

This is a great series for fans of SIX OF CROWS though it’s a little less dark and reads a little younger, I think. Fans of THE RING AND THE CROWN by Melissa de la Cruz will like the re-imagined history of The Great Library series, too. I recommend starting with the first book rather than jumping straight into the middle of the series, though. You can find my review of book one, INK AND BONE. The series finale, SWORD AND PEN, is expected to be released in summer 2020.

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Smoke and Iron on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Santi and Wolfe (two men) are gay and in a relationship together. Khalila is from the Middle East. Dario is Spanish.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two men and between a boy and girl. Some hints at sex. One minor character lives a very free life in which she has many partners and feels positively about it. Morgan worries that she’ll be forced to take a lover to create a child with Obscurist powers.

Spiritual Content
Some brief references to Khalila’s faith (Islam) and to Catholicism.

Violent Content
References to torture. A couple of intense battle scenes. In two scenes, innocent people are abruptly killed. A spear kills one and a knife across the throat kills the other. They’re both shocking scenes and meant to be so.

Drug Content
Morgan is drugged several times. Some characters drink wine socially.

Smoke and Iron on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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