Ash and Quill is the third book in The Great Library series by Rachel Caine. The characters from previous books heroes are in dire straits as this book begins, after surviving a harrowing need to escape from England due to the events in Paper and Fire only to end up in America (Philadelphia to be exact) where the rebellious (and often violent) Burners are ascendant. The Burners reject the ideology of the Great Library which has promulgated the idea that books are more important than human lives (primarily because the knowledge in a book can outlast a human lifetime). The Great Library is the manifestation of what happens if the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed and ended up monopolizing the archiving and distribution of information and knowledge in the form of books.
In Ash and Quill, our main character Jess Brightwell takes an even more central role in the story since the fact his father and the Brightwell family run one of the most significant book smuggling enterprises in the world becomes more important and relevant to his survival and that of his friends in a setting where they are surrounded by enemies.
As in the first two editions of this series (Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire), action is also a strong feature of Ash and Quill. This time the action is not usually involving the High Garda, the troops of the Great Library, but new and different adversaries, who in other circumstances could have been allies.
The series is definitely YA, as the main protagonist (Jess Brightwell) and the majority of the important characters in the story are all teens: Morgan, Jess's love interest, Brandon, Jess's twin brother; Thomas, the genius inventor; Dario, the spoiled but cunning frenemy; and Khalila, the brilliant scholar. Often a YA label signifies the presence of teen-age love triangles and emotionally driven angst but for most of the book this is avoided (sadly, not entirely as Morgan and Jess' relationship gets more fraught as the danger to the group increases).
The book ends on a decided cliffhanger with Jess having made an improbably risky move that appears to be a betrayal of his friends but is actually an attempt to try and end the conflict with the Archivist Magnifex, the evil head of the Great Library. This will all presumably be resolved in Book 4 of the Great Library series, Smoke and Iron, which is set for a summer 2018 release.
Title: Ash and Quill (The Great Library, #3).
Author: Rachel Caine.
Paperback: 368 pages.
Date Published: July 11, 2017.
Date Read: November 11, 2017.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★½☆ (4.5/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).