Thursday, July 7, 2016

ARC Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Series:     The Great Library #2
Pub. Date:July 5, 2016
Publisher:Berkley Publishing
Length:368 pages

The Great Library saga continues with this second installment, which is even more dangerous and action-packed than the first.

Our recruits are down in number from their starting class, and they have just started their official positions with the library. Morgan is a pampered prisoner in the Iron Tower. Khalila and Dario are scholars. Glain and Jess (the main protagonist) are in the Garda. Poor Thomas, thought murdered, is locked up and being tortured in a secret Library dungeon.

The objective for most of this book is to find the secret prison and rescue Thomas. Thwarting the Library in such a way is a very dangerous endeavor so this book is full of action sequences,  heart-pounding moments, close calls and narrow escapes. I loved the fast-paced plotting and scheming, as well as the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, making-it-up-as-you-go decisions of last resort. I continue to be impressed by Jess Brightwell. He is such a capable young man, and the perfect underdog to cheer on against the big bad governmental entity.

Speaking of the big bad, the focus moved away from the Library as a whole for the antagonist. We are really now seeing the corrupt few emerge, namely the Archivist, Archivist Magnus, and Gregory  (whatever his position is). I still find the use of the automata fascinating, and we learn more about how they work in this installment. A good amount of the edge-of-your-seat action sequences saw Jess going up against the automata... and there were lots of near misses. Jess definitely has some kind of luck to make it through all these scrapes by the skin of his teeth.

I am still enjoying Rachel Caine's world-building for the series. I find the premise to be unique in the fantasy/steampunk genre... and I like that it's a "meaty" story. There are lots of details and historical facts to sink your teeth into... not to mention all the political intrigue, plots and betrayals. Sometimes this amount of detail can bog a book down and slow the pace, but Caine packs in enough action to counter this effect. So I thought the pacing and intensity were quite good. It still has an Orwellian feel to me, so I think it will be a hit with fans of political plots, conspiracy theories, and the like.

The books don't end on a cliffhanger per se... but its clear they are stopping in the middle of the overall story, just after a pivotal development. I look forward to the next release in the series.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Berkley Publishing via NetGalley.  

The Great Library