Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine – Review

Cover- Ash and Quill

Published: July , 11, 2017

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: The Great Library #3

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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….

Ash and Quill is the third installment in Rachel Caine’s The Great Library series, where the Library of Alexandria never fell and instead became the world’s biggest power. This may be my favorite book about books that I’ve ever come across and it continued to impress in this installment just as much as it did in the first. Rachel Caine’s story is wonderfully imaginative, fraught with peril and corruption, and shows the fierceness of the bonds of friendship.

Having just escaped the figurative frying pan of the Archivist, Jess and company are now in the fire that is Philadelphia, home of the Burners. This is another, equally perilous form of imprisonment, though the rogue group of scholars and High Garda are now without plans of their own. You see, they want to use the Burners to get out knowledge of the printing press that both Thomas and Scholar Wolfe invented to change the game. By introducing it, they can take away some of the Library’s power and that is merely the first step in their plan to take down the Archivist and reform the institution that has done much good and evil. There’s been quite a bit of action in each of the books, but this one felt more like all-out war rather than a pitched battle or narrow escape. The scale of the story seems to grow with each book, which leaves me wondering if there will be a Library vs. the world sized war in the last book.

Our rogue scholars continue to grow in personality and skillset. Thomas has become a bit terrifying since his captivity- months of torture and loneliness in a dark cell will do that to a person. Morgan has the potential to be a powerful weapon since her Obscurist’s abilities have been developed, though they are dangerous to her as well. Jess, Morgan, and Thomas seem to have the stage in this book more so than the others. Dario, Khalila, Glain and even Wolfe and Santi seem to take on more background roles. Yes, they are secondary characters, but prior to this book, they had a more equalized presence. Perhaps I am the only one who thinks this, but we all judge what we read differently.

Ash and Quill was a really great book with an exciting yet thought provoking storyline. The introduction of new environments and new characters was executed very organically, and really helped to provide new perspective on the Burners and how life was lived in America. Oh and by the way, The Great Library series has been extended from three to five books! I was hesitant to rejoice about this news at first because the quality tends to slip when a story is dragged out, but after finishing Ash and Quill, I think the additional two books will actually be a wonderful thing.


4 thoughts on “Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine – Review

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