Jordan's Reviews > Sword and Pen

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2019, favorites

I can't believe this series is over! This is a series that started out a bit shaky and didn't feel overly new or anything, but with each book it just grew so much in maturity and plot and complexity, and the themes explored were genuinely fascinating and deeply relevant no matter what time period we're living in.

Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

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.
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Reading Progress

August 26, 2019 – Started Reading
August 26, 2019 – Shelved
August 31, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 1, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
September 2, 2019 – Shelved as: favorites

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