Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine
Having finished the previous one in this series January 2019, I was very excited because I loved this series but also had no idea what’s going on. Thankfully within the first chapter I was reacquainted with the characters of the series, as well as The Great Library of Alexandria where scholars and obscurists live and protect the library. If you have no idea what I’m talking about please go and read the rest of the books because this will make no sense to you.
If you insist on continuing and have no idea what’s going on, here’s a quick summary MAJOR SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS: the Great Library of Alexandria survived and still exists. There are automatons and people with a mix of alchemy and magic called obscurists. The previous head of the library, the archivist, was corrupt and has been overthrown, and he is now sitting and plotting the downfall of the library. Owning books is not allowed. The magic people, obscurists used to be imprisoned. Jess has criminal connections. His twin brother died at the end of the last book. He had a brief fling with Morgan, a powerful obscurist. Jess joined the high garda, who guard the great library. Thomas is really really smart. There are a group of people called burners who burn books in protesting the great library. Some people have invented a printing press.
So back to the review. I think the whole concept of the library system is really cool, with all knowledge being controlled by the Great Library which has denominations in other countries, and book smugglers. I was genuinely excited to see what events would unfold and let me tell you I did not expect a single one of them. A constant atmosphere of uncertainty and drama was maintained throughout the book with lots of action and twists and turns.
The book follows several individual viewpoints and different times in the novel which I enjoyed, although sometimes when switching from character to character we went back in time a bit to show what was happening in different places at the same point. I didn’t really notice for most of the book, and thankfully didn’t find it too disruptive. I forgot the main adult relationship was a gay one which was an awesome surprise, and the one thing that really stood out for me was Jess’s injury. He suffers an injury at the start of the book, and instead of it being brushed off or healing strangely fast and not bothering him, it is given the focus necessary for that type of injury which I really appreciated.
I was very happy with the ending, and the way all the characters’ storylines were wrapped up. Would I survive this book? Yeah I think so, although I’m not sure if I could live without free access to books.