Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine: Review

The second book in the ‘The Great Library’ trilogy did not disappoint. As predicted everything went topsy-turvy and I thoroughly enjoyed being along for the ride…

Title: Paper and fire

Author: Rachel Caine

Publication date: 5 July 2016

Pages: 368


With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart. 
Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London. 
But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

This review may contain spoilers for Ink and Bone, the first book in the trilogy.

So we left our team of mismatched adventurers at quite the turning point in their library careers. As predicted, we get to see each of them in their new positions but the focus remains on the High Garda, and subsequently, on Jess and Glain. We do run into Morgan later on in the book and the rag-tag team of library misfits set their hearts on a mission much tougher than those already faced.

In terms of development Khalia, Dario and Glain seemed to make leaps and bounds. Jess on the other hand stagnated a little which is a shame considering some of the emotional stuff that happens to him. Still he is a great character – perhaps he’s holding back on us for later on in his story. The Morgan and Jess relationship thankfully doesn’t dominate like I feared it would; the ‘second-book-romance-plot’ literally only works in ACOMAF – I literally just find Morgan so boring. (Sorry Jess, Love you Rhysand).  HOWEVER we get ample amounts of Wolfe and Santi which I was *very* pleased about.

Caine is quite brazen in the way she cuts off potential ships in this book and that kinda bugged me a little. At one point two characters actually have the “we’re never going to fancy one another” “yes, I’m glad we sorted that out” conversation and it’s just a little mechanical. Why not leave it open? Not really a ‘biggy’ but definitely a pet peeve of mine.

The plot was fast, a lot of movement happens in this narrative and things really do change quite significantly over its 300 or so pages.The automaton were incredible and terrifying and complicated and wonderful and I hope there’s lots of them in the next book because they’re so interesting to read about!

I will hold my tongue on some of the things I didn’t get from this book because there is still time for them to happen in the subsequent books. One I will divulge is not hugely important but is more something uber-curious Cat would like to know: Why did Christopher Wolfe give Jess *such* a low ranking position in the library’s ranks? Was it to protect him from having his secrets discovered? To keep him near Glain for safety? I have to know and I will not rest until I do. I also like that Wolfe’s got deeper, darker side but I want to see more of his scary side again. I want to see him fierce.

In my review for Ink and Bone I parted with this list of things I wanted from the second book:

  • More info on how the obscurists work, like what’s the theory behind the magic? Tell me before I doubt you. I would never doubt you Rachel Caine, you’re a genius but still. I need that.
  • Background on Santi and Wolfe – like plz, it would make me so happy!
  • Retribution for a character who shall remain nameless
  • Brutality against the bad guys, I want this to blow tf up.
  • I need to know more about the adoptee that appears later in the book.

A lot of these things haven’t yet been addressed but Caine gave us the gift of things unconsidered – I was particularly excited to learn a little more about practices within the Iron Tower and to meet the Obscurist Magnus herself!

All in all, the plot and relationships do really start to flesh out in Paper and fire and I am still thoroughly invested in the series as a whole. I am definitely looking forward to book 3 Ash and Quill!


 4 out of 5


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