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Smoke and Iron
Great Library Series #4
Rachel Caine

July 3, 2018/ ISBN 978-0451489210

Reviewed by Jan Fields


One of the strongest outings in the Great Library series, Smoke and Iron continues the precarious adventures of the main characters as they try to restore the Great Library to the ideals for which is was founded. Over the generations, the original goal of the library to preserve books and knowledge for all humanity was corrupted by a thirst for power at the upper levels of the library. In this series, magic lies in books and the creation of them, so the Great Library limits the books that are disseminated and secretly destroys writings it considers dangerous. Knowledge must be rigidly controlled by the library since knowledge is power. In this fourth installment, all of the main characters are in precarious positions with no one comfortable or safe. Also, characters doubt the motives and loyalties of friends and allies, which adds to the tension. The viewpoint jumps around, as it must with so many characters in different places and situations, but it is done with enough skill to keep the reader oriented without issue. The characters have been so carefully crafted over the course of the series that when tragedy strikes, we feel it deeply. As with the previous three books, this is complexly told and engaging, not only moving the greater arc with great skill, but making us eager to know more. This is a world where it seems impossible that we could ever get bored.

The Great Library Series

Ash and Quill #3

Reviewed 2018