I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #3
Published by Berkley on 2017-07-11
Length: 368 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017, 2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge, 2017 New Release Challenge
Words can kill.
Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…
Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.
Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…
The Great Library series just keeps getting better and better!! Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine is the third book in this series and so far my favorite installment. The action and suspense are tripled in this book compared to the rest of the series. Please note that if you have not read the first two books, there will be minor spoilers to the previous books in this review. Read at your own risk! Ash and Quill picks up right where Paper and Fire left off. Jess and his friends along with Scholar Wolfe and Captain Santi have survived the Welsh invasion of London only to escape to Philadelphia, a burner-controlled city. Obviously they have left one evil and thrown themselves at another. The question now becomes what will they do and can they do it.
I just love this series! It’s no secret that I started Ink and Bone not once but three times before I was finally able to finish it. It has a slow start, but the world building more than makes up for it. In Ash and Quill, Jess and his friends get a different narrative than the one the Library has been feeding to them. The Burners aren’t completely bad. They are humans, just like them, trying to survive in the harsh world the Library has created. Their rebellion, the burning of Library books isn’t necessarily about burning the books but taking power away from the Library.
Jess is more confused than ever. He has always believed in the Library’s main goal, saving and rescuing books, making them available to all. BUT after having lived under the Library’s rule, first as a postulate and then as a soldier, Jess has learned the Library harbors dark secrets. Having saved as many of the Black Books (think banned) as they could before escaping in the last book, Jess and his friends inexplicably still believe in the Library, but not its leaders. Jess and his friends are entering dangerous territory with their thoughts, but it doesn’t stop them. Jess is ready to give everything to save his friends and his sacrifice may cost him everything.
Perhaps the most interesting character this time is actually Brendan, Jess’s twin. He makes an appearance halfway through the book and I found myself actually liking him for once. To begin with, Brendan seemed the jealous brother who just wanted to see Jess fail. BUT in this installment, after having nearly lost Jess, their camaraderie comes out and Brendan redeems himself in my eyes. I’m curious to see what will happen with his character in the next book.
The plot revolved around Jess and his friends escaping the Burners, but also learning what the Burners stood for. I think this was an important plot point. In the previous books of the series, the Burners were painted as evil, literally burning everything Jess and and the Library stood for. But in this book, the characters get a glimpse into how they live, the oppression put upon them by the Library, and what they are truly fighting for. It changes everything that has happened so far in the series in my opinion.
Overall, Ash and Quill is a game changer for The Great Library series. It is action-packed. I seriously caught myself holding my breath during several of the more intense scenes, gasping and I may have even shed a tear or two…though I’ll never actually admit it 😉 This is one of my favorite alt history books, bordering on a dystopian. If you have enjoyed the series so far, don’t miss this installment. If you haven’t started it yet, I suggest you do asap!