“Ash and Quill” The Great Library By Rachel Caine: Review/Giveaway

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review & links to purchase it.

Knowledge is power. No one knows this more than the Archivists within the Great Library of Alexandria, which holds a merciless grip over the books of the world. Rebel factions have broken out to battle these authoritarians, but the costs have been great. A small group of young adults who had been training to be a part of the Great Library are fleeing for their lives, taking refuge in the book burning American town of Philadelphia. Only slightly less hostile towards the scholars than the dictatorship rule of the Library, Burner leader Willinger Beck imprisons them for his own needs.

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The white sheep of a powerful family of smugglers, Jess Brightwell, has given up his position as a Garda-in-training to side with his friends and rebel against the Library. The town that burns books as a symbol of its defiance is only slightly preferable to the death sentence handed down by the ruling Archivist. Getting out of their manacles is far easier than avoiding the camps of the Library army outside of the walled city, meaning that the exiles must manipulate their captors into crafting an elaborate escape. When a horrific bombing critically injures one of their two Library allies, the remaining six youths must brilliantly utilize their unique skills to outsmart the Burners and avoid the Library Garda outside. Jess worries that Morgan Hault’s gifts as an Obscurist make her too valuable prize for both sides, and using her power to save them all comes at a price. Jess as well must balance between the life he fled and the one he wants to lead, as their salvation places him right back in the first place he tried to escape.

Image source: Penguin

Although falling in the realm of Young Adult, this truly is a novel that can be read by fantasy and book lovers of any age. The diverse cast of characters delivers an ample cast of relatable heroes, and even with their contrasting backgrounds they find a uniting goal.

The teens have been forced to grow up quickly in order to survive, never forgetting the life-or-death stakes or the cause they uphold. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of humor or levity though, with the dry-witted Dario Santiago and ruthlessly physical Glain Wathen leading the way. This third in the Great Library series further develops the fascinating concept of knowledge as literal currency, with a black market funneling tomes considered too dangerous for the average person. It’s a slippery slope when protection becomes oppression, and the fine line is examined throughout the novels.

Everyday heroes laying down their lives and devoted to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge is a notion any academic would laud, much less a librarian. The strategic plans, machinations, and sacrifices Jess puts into play in order to save his friends will have readers anxiously awaiting the next exciting novel that may herald the beginning of the end.

To enter to win a copy of Ash and Quill, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “quill,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 29, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Young Adult books are always fun to read, especially in the Fantasy genre.

  2. Sounds like an interesting read.


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