Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian
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.
Smoke and Iron is the fourth installment in The Great Library series by author Rachel Caine. Smoke and Iron is a heart-pounding, alternate history novel set in a world where book ownership is forbidden. The story is filled with action, adventure, romance, betrayal, and magic. This is also a series that revolves around a rather large group of teens, and their adult mentors. The characters include: Jeff Brightwell, Khalila Seif, Glain Wather, Dario Santiago, Thomas Schreiber, Morgan Hault, Captain Niccolo Santi, and Christopher Wolfe.
In this story, Jess, Khalia, Christopher, and Morgan are the main catalyst for what happens overall, while the others get brief control over the story. Caine's world is one in which the Great Library exists and controls all of the books of the world, while using a sort of alchemy to distribute the books as they see fit. 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.
For this story's sake, it has been 5 days since Jess arrived back in Alexandria posing as his brother Brendan. He has betrayed his mentor and the girl he loves, but thinks he has a plan to pull off the biggest miracle in history. He is trying to save the Great Library from the Archivist. Jess's plan involves Scholars, thieves, burners, and Garda soldiers who are tired of watching the Library spiral out of control. But, with the so called Feast of Great Burning happening soon, and the Archivist a master in the cat and mouse game, Jess will need to use some wit and imagination and luck in order to survive being one of those who's disposed of by the Archivist.
Onboard a ship heading back to Alexandria, as well as a brief stop in Spain where the King of Spain has plans of his own, Khalila, Thomas, Glain, Dario, and Niccolo are in deep trouble. Some of them are marked for death by the Archivist, others are apparently useful. There there is the wild card, Anit, daughter of the Red Ibrahim. Everyone except Dario believes that Jess betrayed them. If they find out what his plan entails, will they ever forgive him for what he did, or will there be hell to pay? There's just so much a person can do when facing nearly insurmountable odds.
Meanwhile, Morgan is back in the Iron Tower where she has escaped from several times, but this time she's facing the most difficult challenge of her life. She has to face off against a new Obstrurist who has it in for her, while working with allies who may have a common goal of gaining more freedoms for the Obstrurist's who are not allowed to leave the Iron Tower, and are required to have children with whomever is chosen for them. Morgan is also experiencing the most twisted story of all characters. She has power that is so strong, I'm not sure if anyone can survive if she turns against her friends. Her savior might be a man who hasn't been seen in a very long time.
In one of the more heart broken stories, Christopher is back in prison. It is a place he is familiar with, but he's not the only one. There are very important other scholars, soldiers, and researchers who have apparently made an enemy of the Archivist that are there with him. Christopher of all the characters in this book has a pretty good idea of what is happening and why he was led back to the library to wait his execution. He also believes, "A broken bone heals twice as strong." Doesn't mean that he will easily forgive, but when the chips are down, hard choices must be made.
As readers, you have to ask yourself how things are going to play out when all is said and done. Will Dario and Khalila's bond grow stronger? Will Jess and Morgan figure out whether or not they actually love each other? Or, will Jess be the odd man out? I say that because only Jess is one without any magic, or powers, or prestige. He is a boy who grew up as a book runner for his father, and later found himself as a soldier with the Library's Garda. He carries the most weight of any character in this book, except perhaps Morgan, and we shall see what the author does with her powers in the final installment.
This is a story that is action packed, but also has a very emotional ending. Each of the characters in this series has shown unique abilities. Example: Santi is strength, Jess is inspiration, Thomas is the future, Glain is protection, Khalia is brilliant, Dario I haven't exactly found an easy path to liking yet. He is too much of a character who has had the world handed to him on a silver plate, and still treats Jess as though he is a scrub. We shall see if that changes in the final installment.