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The Great Library #4

Smoke and Iron

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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.

430 pages, Hardcover

First published July 3, 2018

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Rachel Caine

243 books18.1k followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 799 reviews
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,948 followers
July 30, 2018
3.5 stars

Either I’m getting more critical or this series is lowering in quality just slightly?

This book is the fourth installment in the Great Library series, which is a fantasy series I think is EXTREMELY underrated and has been so much fun to follow. It’s got historical yet dystopian vibes, lots of diversity, and a cast of characters you get attached to easily.

But with each new installment I read, I get a little less engrossed in the series? It might be because it’s quite long; there are five books total and each book has a pretty slow-moving plot. But there’s just something less engaging about each book and I can’t quite pinpoint it.

“Is a fire the fault of a man who drops a match, or the one who spilled the oil all over the floor, knew it, and left it there?”

This series is essentially about a world where the Great Library of Alexandria survived, and it controls and censors what books the citizens of the world can or cannot read. It’s become oppressive, and so this band of six kids are trying to change it.

This book is a story of rebellion and giving the power of choice to every individual. It’s about opening yourself up to knowledge, fighting for what you think is right, and choosing what to believe. At its core, it’s a story of overcoming oppressive governments, and I think that’s something extremely relevant to today’s events.

Despite my inability to get fully engaged in the story and the issues I had with the development of characters (among other things), I still really enjoyed this book. There’s something about this series that makes you care about what happens to the characters and get excited to know what happens next. The writing isn’t anything special, but it’s easy to read, and some dry humor finds its way in too.

Unlike the previous books, Smoke and Iron follows four different characters and it’s… a little disconcerting. It makes sense why the author chose to write four different POVs—the characters were almost all split up—but it was just a little… much? And then at the end, there are three chapters for three new characters and it’s just. WHY. It’s way too much. I do like multiple POVs because I like seeing into different characters’ heads, but there’s a line between “just enough” and “too much” and this book crosses it.

With four POVs, you expect to have a lot of character development. Sadly… there is minimal development?

JESS || Jess’ chapters were REALLY fun to read, because he was impersonating his twin brother Brendan for the first half or so, who reminds me a lot of Kaz Brekker (but smiles more) and who I ADORE. I don’t think Jess changes very much at all, except he does get a little braver?? I guess??? (I’m reaching here.)

KHALILA || I ADORE Khalila!!! I absolutely love her. She’s one of my favorite parts of this book, and one of my favorite characters! She’s such a strong (female) character—her most powerful tool is her voice, but she’s also sweet, caring, passionate, and also, a really great fighter. And I think it’s extremely important to see this hijabi Muslim woman in a place of leadership.

WOLFE || Okay, Wolfe and Santi are my favorite gay dads to ever exist, and I just adore their relationship. I’m 99% sure that Wolfe has PTSD (was tortured physically and mentally before the series takes place), and seeing him fighting that—seeing Santi try to help him—was really inspiring, especially as a mentally ill person myself. Didn’t really see the need to include his POV though?

MORGAN || Morgan was just NOT a good character in this book. Her only development is from “do I love him?” to “maybe I don’t love him” to “I do love him” and it’s so hilariously RIDICULOUS that this strong, fierce woman has been reduced to an arc like that. And while she had more of a personality in this book than previously, her “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE NOT GONNA HELP ME” attitude got on my nerves quickly.

I think another issue that kept me from being as engaged with this book was that it was… slow. It took me 6 days to read, when it should’ve taken me about half that time. The plot was really slow to get started, though—I’ll give it credit—there were plenty of events that kept me interested. Still, I struggled to get into it and that’s one of the main things that affected my reading experience.

Also, the ending was rushed. There was no time to wrap up one HUGE event that happened in the second-to-last chapter. And while I’m excited to see what happens in the next book, it’s hard to imagine what can possibly keep me interested after all the huge events that happened in Smoke and Iron.

“[…] we will bring our light back to a world we left in darkness.”

:: rep :: hijabi Muslim Saudi Arabian female MC, gay male MC with coded PTSD, aromantic-asexual-coded female side character, multi-gender-attracted aromantic-spectrum-coded female side character, Spanish male side character, gay male side character, side character with coded PTSD
:: content warnings :: war violence, death (by gunshot, stabbing, cutting of throat), torture [in prison], blood

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for a review copy in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way. All quotes are from an advanced copy and may differ in final publication.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,158 reviews1,517 followers
June 22, 2018
Yes folks it’s that time of year again, time for my annual rant and rave for Rachel Caine’s young adult fantasy The Great Library series. For the past four years I have raved about how much I just love this series but I’ve also had to rant away that yet again I now have yet another year to wait until the next book and oh what a long wait it will be. Last year’s rant was a bit more memorable since I’d thought the series was going to be a trilogy but found out we had another cliffhanger and had been expanded to five books. I’m a little calmer this year after book four but still….. such a long wait!

So…. I suppose I should be actually reviewing the book by now, huh? Honestly there’s not much to say at this point except what are you waiting for?? Read this series!! Ok, ok, I suppose I should add a little more info. The series is one that definitely needs to be enjoyed from the beginning as it continues onward from book to book and one would be lost jumping into the middle. The world in the books revolves around The Great Library that controls the books of the world and uses alchemy to distribute the books. Those working for the library track down anyone with any in their possession and confiscate the materials since ownership of books is expressly forbidden and anyone violating this law could even be sentenced to death.

Jess Brightwell is our lead character who came from a family that was involved in the black market for books. Jess had been raised to be a runner, delivering the books to those willing to pay the price and risk ownership but then Jess had been sent to the library by his father to become a spy from the inside. He got involved in the training only to find himself mixed up in the secrets of the library and with the group of friends he had met they began their battle against the Archivist Magister of the Great Library.

The world Rachel Caine created at the beginning of this story was a wonderful one filled with magic and so much more. But as the books have gone on things have been expanded more and more and with each book I’m still amazed at the story and the progress the characters make. At this point in the series the characters have been separated giving another layer as the point of view changes with the action going on in each location which gave it a faster feel than the last which I’d thought had slowed a little. After finishing this round though I am already making plans for next year to reread from the beginning to enjoy all of the books together so as you can guess I would definitely recommend to any fantasy fans out there to check out The Great Library series!

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more review please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
369 reviews978 followers
July 13, 2018
4 books in and I’m still head-over-heels for this series. I absolutely adore it! Having said that, Rachel Caine has consistently been able to wreck me at the end of each instalment…and this one is no exception. I AM DISTRAUGHT!!! I can’t even…AGHHH!

This book picked up right after the cliffhanger in Ash and Quill, and it was full-speed ahead for the duration of the novel. There are so many plots, deceptions, manipulations, and conspiracies as our favourite characters struggle to get the upper-hand in the fight against the Archivist. Strategy is KEY in this instalment, and I LOVED it. I find it fascinating to watch the events unfold as we see the consequences of everyone’s decisions. And we finally got multiple POVs, aside from Jess’! (I was especially excited for Wolfe’s, he he)

Jess is my baby and I relate to him so much. <3

“Not having a book at hand was a punishment worse than death.”

Wolfe and Santi were the grumpy, but lovable, gay dads who were so protective of their kids.

“Their children – and he would always think of them as their children; he’d given up on everything else – were late returning, and that was almost certainly not good news.”

Khalila finally grew into the fantastic leader that I knew she was always destined to be. She knew exactly what everyone’s strengths were and used them to strategise quite successfully.

“Without Santi, they would not find the strength. Without Jess, no inspiration. Without Thomas, there was no real future. Without Glain, no protection. Without Morgan, no audacity. Without Wolfe, no challenge to do better, be better. Without Dario, no subtlety.”

Needless to say, I’m highly anticipating the final showdown in Book 5…and I’ll be eagerly waiting for its release in 2019! Why such a long wait?!!! WHY?!!! :(
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 80 books16.9k followers
April 22, 2020
I'm loving this series! If you haven't read this series yet, start with Ink and Bone and make sure you have all the rest of the books, 'cause you're going to want to keep reading. I'm worried about the last book, tho! I don't want anything to happen to the characters.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,066 reviews382 followers
July 3, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!

This might be the best yet in the series, and I think it was definitely my favorite of the series so far. We come off of the cliffhanger of the next book with everyone in limbo, and the author uses her mighty pen to move and shift all of our players like pieces on a chess board, forcing them towards the huge clash that is destined to happen soon.

We get to read POVs from multiple characters in this one. Usually when that kind of a change happens in a series, I am a little thrown by the change, but in this one, it flows and works perfectly with the story. We get to see all the little cogs of the story turning and moving and pushing the story forward.

I just wish I had waited to catch up on this series until the last one was coming out much sooner, because the wait is going to kill me!

Pick this series up. It's a lot of fun, really well-written, full of great characters and mystery and action and romance, and you won't regret it.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,223 reviews2,053 followers
August 7, 2018
This series continues to improve and Smoke and Iron was for me a fast, action packed read.

A huge amount happened in the course of this story and relationships faltered and changed. At the start of the series I did not feel invested in any of the characters but that has changed totally. You have to be careful who you become attached to though because the author is not scared of killing
off quite prominent people!

Smoke and Iron finishes in a very open ended way with major events still hanging in the balance. I am ready for book 5!
Profile Image for Evgnossia O'Hara.
102 reviews197 followers
Want to read
April 15, 2018
I just saw on authors instagram page that the 4th book in the Great Library Series comes out on 3rd July, 2018!!! I thought it would be a trilogy but the excitement is real 😍
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books4,010 followers
January 6, 2021
This book fucking shook me. I haven't read a 4th book in a series in years. And definitely not one where the books get BETTER as you go along.

Rachel, you are so missed.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,607 reviews1,481 followers
July 14, 2018
Information is power, I’m a firm believe in that. The Great Library is a world where knowledge is held by a system, in this case The Great Library in Alexandria, and they chose what information is acceptable for the world at large. Printed books on paper are considered contraband and if you are caught with one it could mean your life.

I’ve liked the premise of the series since Ink and Bone, however the series lost a little momentum for me with the next two books in the series. But, I think that we are back on track and I enjoyed Smoke and Iron possibly the most so far.

This is told from multiple PoVs at the characters are all scattered in different places. All are in great danger, just some a little more than others. I sometimes struggle when this is the case, waiting for characters to find each other again. But each separate story was so engaging that I didn’t have any issues with it.

I like that the women of this series are smart and strong all in their own ways. Khalila is smart and brave willing to try just about anything to save the version of the library she thinks it should be. I enjoyed how she found her way into being a leader of the team.
“You have the gift, you know.”
“What gift?”
“Silence,” he said. “You let people think. And yet, you also lead from silence. I’ve met a few like you.”

Morgan can be a little grating to me at times but she is just as brave and determined at Khalilia to save the Obscurests like her who have been locked away all their lives. It took great courage to go back into the Black Tower to try and destroy the Library from the inside. Even Glain, who seems like she is just a brute on the outside is a woman who is strong both in her convictions and fierce protection of her friends.

Wolfe and Santi are a favorite couple of mine. I like how their relationship gives just enough romance to this for me. Santi is a wonderful protector and I adore how fiercely he loves Wolfe. They are a couple for the ages.

As always there were some unexpected deaths and one hit a little harder than the others. This is not a safe world and I never expect everyone to make it out alive. At least not with power crazy tyrants running lose and automatons on the prowl.

One more book to go to wrap up the series and it is set up to be a doozy from the ending of this. So if you like libraries, automatons and a little bit of magic, this could be the series for you.
Profile Image for Melindam.
632 reviews275 followers
July 25, 2018
Loved this new instalment to The Great Library series and as always it left me wanting to read the next book right away.

This series is simply fascinating. Rachel Caine really knows how to spin a yarn and her characters are both delightfully intriguing and imperfect.

More thoughts & feels after the summer holidays.
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews543 followers
November 8, 2018
The Great Library Series continues. Jess and his twin brother have swapped roles in an attempt to save those they care about most. They’re merely pawns in a giant chess game that they havent even begun to understand. In a world where the written word could very well mean a death sentence, Jess and his band of outcasts have challenged the authority of the Library by manufacturing a printing press.

Smoke and Iron proved to be my least favorite so far in the series. While I still enjoy the books, I think the author lost something along the way. I still adore the characters. I still enjoy the story being told. I am not sure what exactly is missing, but I have found my interest steadily decreasing as the series continues. When I read the first one I was completely enraptured with it. I enjoyed a majority of the second one. And the third one I had to start twice before I finished it. And now… there’s this one.

Part of my detachment with this one, I think, is that there are multiple POV’s now. Instead of sticking with the POV’s that have been telling the story up until this point, we now have several new ones. I know that sometimes stories being told from different perspectives adds a layer of suspense and mystery. In this book, I think it muddled the storyline and distracted from the overall story being told. I thnk it took me out of the story because I had to continually remember who I was reading. And on top of that, some of the characters sounded the same.

Some authors have the voice of several characters in their heads and are able to pull that off in a book. I think in this instance it was just too much of a good thing. Yes, the group was scattered, but that doesn’t mean we need a POV chapter from every single character in the book. Especially when their voices all sound the same. The only exception was Khalilia. I think the addition of her POV was excellent. In fact, the whole series might have been better based from her perspective rather than Jess’. I know, it sounds blaphemous to those who follow this series… but it’s just how I feel.

I will of course be continuing on. I have to see how this all plays out! I really hope that she finds the thread of this story again though and gets it back to what it was starting out. As of right now there are far too many side stories going on, too many perspectives and too many objectives. But, it’s still a fast-paced adventure. It’s a wild ride that travels through this awesome dystopian world that has captivated my heart. There are so many more things that I love in this series compared to my complaints and that is why I’ll be sticking with it.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
January 27, 2020

Smoke and Iron was equally amazing at the previous books within this series. So glad that it started off right where the third book ended. If it didn't, then I have no idea what I would be writing about right now because I most definitely would've been confused. Plus, a lot happened in this book - just like all it's previous books in this series. So much happened in this thing, that my mind is still trying to wrap it all together into a bow.

I love certain characters still BUT I was actually really happy to get more POVs this time around. I mean, Jess is my favorite no matter what but I loved getting to hear from everyone else! Ugh, Wolfe and Santi are freaking adorable and my spirit animals. Then there's Khalila and she did some growing in this one. Definitely becoming a much better leader in my opinion and can't wait to see what they are all gonna do in the next book.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews787 followers
July 6, 2018
What would be like if the Great Library of Alexandria had never burned down? Would all the amazing knowledge that was stored there and now is gone have enriched the world? Just imagine what a different world we could live in today. That is what Rachel Caine has done with The Great Library series. She created a world where the library never burned down and is now a presence in every major city in the world, controlling knowledge. Through alchemy, the library can deliver any of the content in the library directly to anyone. However, it's forbidden to own books. Anyone threatening the power of the Great Library is put down.

Profile Image for Suzzie.
908 reviews164 followers
February 14, 2019

Oh how I cannot wait until May for the final book! I absolutely love this series! It is fast moving with some amazing characters that readers cannot help but root for. The ending of this installment was crazy and a bit unpredictable. There is a heart wrenching moment at the end for readers. So ready for the final book now!

My quick and simple overall: cannot wait for May! 💓
Profile Image for Anna's Herding Cats.
1,274 reviews308 followers
Want to read
July 2, 2017
Oh my gosh! I thought this was just going to be a trilogy! The excitement! It's ridiculous! lol
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
421 reviews466 followers
June 22, 2021
I freaking LOVE this series and Smoke and Iron is in my opinion, it's best entry so far.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews868 followers
July 19, 2021
The best book in the series so far, Smoke and Iron gave me more than a consistently fantastic continuation in The Great Library.

Once again, the story took off right after the previous cliffhanger ending. This time, however, there's a difference and I was absolutely thrilled to discover multiple POVs for the first time in the series. As I've mentioned in my last review, I'm thoroughly invested in each and every one of the characters in the main cast. And this was despite just having Jess Brightwell as the sole POV character so far. As a reader, I couldn't think of a better reward after that nailbiting ending in the previous book than to be able to finally get into the heads of the other characters.

"Silences, he learned, had layers to them. Some were tense, on the verge of violence; some were slow and calm and peaceful. This one had edges."

The change in the structure of the narrative was more than just refreshing and delightful, it was what the story required. At the end of Ash and Quill, the devastating turn of events resulted in the entire group being splintered, and each has a role to play towards the goal of removing the corrupted core of the Library. I did wonder after I've finished the third book as to how Caine would be able to account for that if we were only given Jess's POV. And as any good storyteller and author would do, she gave us multiple ones and it made the narrative even better.

"Without Santi, they would not find the strength. Without Jess, no inspiration, Without Thomas, there was no real future. Without Glain, no protection. Without Morgan, no audacity. Without Wolfe, no challenge to do better, be better. Without Dario, no subtlety. Without her.. but she didn't see her role. It would have been prideful to imagine she could be spared, but she knew she could not spare even one of these others."

What multiple character viewpoints need to provide are distinctive voices. While Caine had established these characters to be very different personalities as seen from Jess's POV, it's quite another matter to hear them in their own heads. I can't begin to describe how much I enjoyed and loved every single moment of it. I even tried to savour this book a bit more and was partially successful because every POV is a section of its own. That in effect provided a natural break in the narrative as the story shifted to a different setting. While the story was just as engaging as the rest, it did not have the relentless pacing of the last one that made it so unputdownable. But even though it's less intense than its predecessor, Smoke and Iron was anxiety inducing. In a way, that also led me to take more breaks for some reprieve.

"The Library had started as a preserver of knowledge, a beacon of light, but that through the centuries and millennia, it had become a center of power. Power rotted from within."

One thing that was really highlighted here was how power could corrupt so badly that a person could become mad with it. That's the only way to describe the Archivist Magister, whom I would dearly love to see suffer as badly (or even more) as those he has made to suffer. This madness was already quite telling from a particularly horrifying event that occurred towards the end of the second book, but it was shown to even greater effect this time.

"Forgive me for clinging one more moment to the fiction that right will prevail without becoming worse than its opposite."

I was expecting yet another cliffhanger as we progress to the final book. To my surprise, this one actually ended at a good place. Well, as much as in we're not left hanging on tenterhooks. I would not deem what happened to be good, especially as I was quite devastated by a certain moment. One very minor gripe I had for this book is that sometimes things seemed to happen just a tad too conveniently for the benefit of our main characters. However, I loved reading these books way too much to let that affect my enjoyment and I just rode with it. All I could hope and wish for now is for the final volume to deliver a satisfying conclusion that befits the stellar quality of these books so far.

You can purchase the book from Book Depository (Free Shipping) | Bookshop.Org (Support Independent BookstoresAmazon US | Amazon UK

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,035 reviews646 followers
August 22, 2019
Spoiler Free and Vague Thoughts

Smoke and Iron was suspenseful with nail-biting developments, new automations and great loss. We've got Jess, posing as Brendon, his twin, Morgan is back in the Dark Tower a place she swore she'd never return to and Wolfe being held prisoner in the dungeon. The rest of our crew is aboard a ship manned by Ani. All have a part to play in the game to undermine and remove the archivist from power. Ahhhh.... it was all so stressful!

The story moved from POV to POV, some Jess, some from Wolfe and others from Khalia. The ebb and flow keep me engaged. I tried to savior the story by setting it down and just digesting things for a day, but the last sixty percent I devoured in a single sitting.

Things I loved:

Wolfe and Santi's relationship. (swoon)
Dario who completely won me over.
Thomas the brave.
Khalia who continues to impress me. I see great things in her future.
Jess who is clever, foolish, and inspires his friends to greatness even as they want to kill him. LOL
When I close my eyes, these characters are the actors and actresses from the Harry Potter movies. Wolfe is Snape, Thomas is Neville, Dario is Malfoy, Jess is Harry, Morgan is Luna, and Khalia is Hermione.  All have traits that from the beginning reminded me of Rowling's characters and while there are vast differences, I think readers will agree they come to care for these characters in much the same way.

Caine must have poured her soul into this installment. It had everything an epic fantasy needs. We saw fantastic battles, plot twists, and death. Now I've heard readers say this ended in a cliffhanger and while things are not completely resolved I felt differently. After a good cry, the ending left me satisfied and for once I didn't close the book while screaming.

If friendship, strong characters and epic world-building tickle your fancy I recommend you devour the Great Library series. The next and final book is yet to come. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
Profile Image for Justine.
1,133 reviews309 followers
March 1, 2021
4.5 stars

An absolutely excellent installment in The Great Library series. It's not an easy thing to consistently build momentum and complexity into a series, but Caine manages to deliver that here.

Escape from Philadelphia to the relative and short lived safety of England in Ash and Quill was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. As Smoke and Iron opens the comrades find themselves scattered and facing danger and betrayal at every turn.

For the first time in the series we have the story told from various points of view as they try desperately to save themselves and each other. It was particularly nice to see Khalila come into herself, and as always, Jess continues to be a strong and interesting character. Even Dario succeeds in almost completely redeeming his previous shortcomings.

With the future of the Library hanging in the balance, the stage is set for a decisive conclusion in the last book, Sword and Pen.

Whatever happens tomorrow, we're a wounded beast in a world full of wolves. And we had better learn to use our teeth before it's too late.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,757 reviews755 followers
March 17, 2020
This series just wows me more and more with each book. The world that Caine has created is just SO stunning and original, I’m instantly transported as soon as I start turning the pages. And I just can’t get enough of this world and these characters, I’d gladly read another 20 books about them! This installment is an absolutely crazy roller coaster ride, from start to finish it’s nonstop action. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, despairing that this band of characters that I’ve so grown to love would all make it through in one piece. My emotions ran the full gauntlet, from laughter to anger to tears and everything else in between, this book made me feel it all.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,567 reviews259 followers
July 15, 2018
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jess Brightwell and his allies are now in direct danger from the Archivist Magister and his supporters in the Great Library. The world is about to catch fire in all out rebellion and printed words are the spark to ignite the blaze. They'll have to use everything they've got if they want any chance of surviving this fight. It's down to the smugglers, thieves, and Scholars to save all that's still good about the library.

Smoke and Bone by Rachel Caine is the fourth installment of The Great Library series which has quickly become one of my all time favorite series. I know I've said this with pretty much every subsequent volume, but the series just manages to get better and better and this one is no exception! The stakes haven't been higher than they are here. I love the vivid world that the author has created, no matter how brutal it is to our favorite characters. I love her take on this alternate very near future, no matter how terrifying it is in terms of censorship, and that we've had the opportunity to travel and see that world from everywhere to London, Oxford, Alexandria, and Philadelphia. Here a great deal of the action is back in the city of the Great Library's headquarters - their return trip is according to plan but it's still heartbreaking for the characters who weren't let in on that plan.

As fantastic as Caine's world-building has been throughout this series, our diverse core cast of characters are some of the best I've had the opportunity to spend time with. I'm so invested in Jess, Khalila, Morgan, Glain, Dario, Thomas, Wolfe, Santi, and even Brendan. I love them all, but I have to admit that Wolfe and Santi are my two favorites. If anything happens to either of them, I won't know what to do. Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting older, but they've been my favorite characters since I started this series. Anyway, this time around several of our main cast have POV chapters. I was kind of worried about that element, but to be honest it's a great addition since Jess and the others are split up for a chunk of the story. Like I said before, the stakes are sky high and everyone is risking their lives, so you can imagine just how stressful it is to see my favorites in such danger. No one is safe, no one.

Overall, Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine is another brilliant installment of one of the most bookish, inventive, and addictive YA fantasy series currently out there. This story is marvelous and I didn't want to put it down, but honestly I was so stressed out while reading it because I couldn't be sure that all of my favorites would survive the oncoming war. I was truly worried bout these characters which is a fantastic testament to Caine's top-notch storytelling abilities and talent at creating diverse and realistic characters that feel as if they could walk right off the page. I know my review hasn't done the novel justice, but I can't recommend it enough. Seriously, I don't know how I'll cope until the final book is released next year - or after it's all over either.

Thanks again, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Iris.
550 reviews253 followers
September 3, 2019

***First Read Review***

This book was utterly fantastic! It was fast paced and spectacular and AHHHHHHHH!!! I absolutely ADORE these characters, and I love this series, and AHHHHHH!!!! This book was one wild ride!

Okay but seriously, I am just complete trash for these characters, and I cannot be made speak about them sensibly! MY HEART!! I LOVE THEM!!!!

Sort of forget what happened in this book to be honest, but I loved it! BECAUSE THE CHARACTERS!!! And I know the plot was fast paced and kept my attention from the very first page, to the very last.

Not to mention these books are super well written!


And also in this one some new characters got perspectives and I loved it! Morgan has never been my favourite, and she still isn't, but I did really enjoy her chapters. Khalila is such a badass and I adore her, and her chapters were spectacular! AND WOLFE!!! WOLFE IS MY FAVOURITE AND I CAN'T BELIVE WE GOT CHAPTERS FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE!!! But my heart HURT for him! BUT AHHHH I'M SO GLAD WE GOT TO READ FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE!!!

Honestly Jess's chapters were my least favourite... I like him a lot, but his chapters were just a tiny bit bland sometimes. Just a smidge, but still...

My one complaint was the way the chapters were done. We would get two or three from one, and the two or three from the next, and so on, and it was sort of weird? I prefer when they aren't in big lumps like that?

But overall, I absolutely ADORED this book! THE CHARACTERS ARE SO PRECIOUS!

(Can you tell I love these characters? Or should I say it again? I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS!)

Okay seriously. You should read this series, because I absolutely adore it!!

***Initial Reaction, September 2, 2018***

Wow. WOW. This was one heck of a book. RTC.
Profile Image for Anne ✨ Finds Joy.
277 reviews66 followers
July 25, 2018
There's a lot to like with this series, with its cool world building, diverse cast of characters, and plenty of action. But the series has been inconsistent too, a roller coaster ride alternating between high excitement and low boredom. For me, the first book was great (after a couple of hundred pages), the second book I struggled with, the third book was the best of them all, and now with this fourth book I struggled once again.

When the series is at its best is when the group of teens (Jess, Morgan, Dario, Khalila, Thomas, Glain) are all banded together and in full non-stop action fighting the evil of the Great Library's rulers. But for almost the entirety of this fourth book the teens are separated, and the story suffers for it. I liked how it began, but felt the group should have been reunited sooner. By the time the story got to some exciting action again, it felt disjointed because the group's cohesion had been eroded.

I had been expecting this to be the story's conclusion, so was a little surprised to realize there will be yet another book in the series. I will probably read it as I'm invested in the characters now, but this series would have been a lot stronger with some heavy-handed editing to produce a tighter/shorter storyline. Well, here's hoping #5 delivers a BIG finish and converts my back to being a fan!
Profile Image for Andy.
2,408 reviews191 followers
August 20, 2018
I still love this series! I'm kind of on the fence about whether or not everything could've been wrapped up in this volume, but I guess it will depend on what happens in the next book. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives, but at the end pretty much everyone had a perspective and that was kind of overkill.

Wolfe's perspective in this was probably the least useful. I think his could've easily been cut out so that Morgan's, Jess's and Khalila's perspectives could've been expanded. And it really pains me to say that because I love Wolfe. I wish there had been more about him trying to heal from his past or really anything of substance. He had one function and it wasn't that great.

I loved the perspective from Khalila, my home girl is going to be key for the Library to survive and I cannot wait to see her run this. Khalila proved time and time again that she's intelligent and incredibly determined. In this book she truly shows what she's capable of as a leader. Morgan was okay in this book. She had a small side drama internally about Jess which was kind of annoying, but I loved seeing what she did with the other Obscurists.

Then we have my boy Jess. Oh I love him. Jess starts off in this book by impersonating his twin Brendan and god it was freaking great. We see that Jess can play the cool and apathetic brother if he so chooses. Jess is still pulling strings in this book and organizing his own chess board. I still love his scheming. However, the next book will probably need scheming and sweet talking (I'm looking at you Khalila love) as the board has been set and the pieces are primed to fall.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,288 reviews395 followers
August 12, 2020
Picking up where Ash and Quill left off, Jess has returned to Alexandria, posing as his twin brother Brendan, returning Morgan to the Dark Tower (a place she vowed never to return) and Wolfe to the Library's dungeon. The rest of Jess's crew is aboard a ship manned by Anit, headed back to Alexandria at the behest of her father, Red Ibrahim. This fourth book is narrated by several POVs, as Jess tries to hide his true identity while finding allies (Dario's cousin, Spain's ambassador), Morgan avoiding her drug regime to seek an ally in the most reclusive and powerful Obscurist (Eskander), and Wolfe rallying the imprisoned. Meanwhile, Dario, Khalila, Thomas, Glain and Santi hijack the ship, seeking help from Spain. After reuniting, Dario and Khalila start recruiting allies among Librarians, guarded by Glain. And, a mechanical dragon, breathing green vapor and Greek fire. Great action and series. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Belles.
409 reviews27 followers
July 8, 2018
Not a bad book, but I think I'm done with this series. It feels like it's just dragging out.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews263 followers
July 3, 2018
Jess Brightwell comes from a long line of book smugglers. In a world where owning a book is illegal, Jess finds himself a spy in the Great Library He and his group of friends have pitted themselves against the library and archivists that control their world by controlling the access to knowledge (aka all the books).

Get ready for accelerating action when Caine pulls out all the stops in a this the fourth installment in The Great Library series. I found myself sucked into this world wishing it would continue, knowing its a re-readable plot that kept me complainting it long after I finished.

Wow! Just wow! Caine scripts a complex and tangled web that ensnares the reader into The Great Library's world.

I received this ARC copy of Smoke and Iron from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Smoke and Iron is set for publication July 3, 2018.

My Rating: 5 stars
Written by: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library
Sequence in Series: Book 4
Print Length: 448 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Genre: Scifi | Dystopian | Fantasy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Smoke-Great-Li...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/smok...
Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/smok...

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Profile Image for Darinda.
8,169 reviews145 followers
July 9, 2018
The fourth book in The Great Library series by Rachel Caine. Jess and his friends are back, and trying to save the Great Library from evil and corruption.

This story is told using multiple points of view. That is different than in the earlier books, but it works for this one. The characters aren't all in the same location the entire time, and a lot is happening. It was nice to see all of the pieces coming together.

A creative and engaging fantasy world. A great series for fans of young adult fantasy stories set in a dystopian world. I've read the previous three books in the series (Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill), and definitely recommend reading them before this one. There is one more book to follow after this one, and I can't wait to see how the series ends.

I received a digital ARC from Berkley and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,420 followers
November 24, 2022
This is the fourth instalment in The Great Library series.

This is set in a world where the Library rules in place of a government. By keeping the knowledge contained in books closely guarded, and only available for scholars and those deemed worthy, it can both impede and advance societal growth as it sees fit. Technology is stunted, business advancements are thwarted and the Library maintains a tight leash on its citizens. The all seeing and all powerful Library seems like an unbreakable patriarchal structure, but that might just be what they want you to think.

This novel differed from the previous series instalments in that the perspective did not remain entirely with Jess Brightwell. It made sense that this occurred, as the central characters remained apart for much of the story. I love Jess as a protagonist, but it was also fun to explore some new insights to the world and to view it through those already beloved to me.

The characters themselves have hardened over the course of this series, which is understandable given all that they have witnessed and endured. It saddens me to see their bright lights come close to extinguishing, but they fight on regardless of how low it burns. New plans are explored here and action dominates much of the book. As always though, the library remains an oppressive and seemingly undefeatable presence.

The ending of this book has set up for a battle-dominated final series instalment. To say I am scared would be an understatement but I am ready to see these characters prevail in all they have fought for.
Profile Image for Jeff.
28 reviews18 followers
July 10, 2018
Love this series, can't wait for the final book.
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