Paper and Fire

Paper and Fire: The Great Library (book 2) by Rachel Caine

Jess and the surviving class are all assigned to areas, and reunite when rumors of the Black Archives, Thomas being alive, and the threat of Wolfe being killed become all to real.  The adventures take the group from Alexandra, to Rome, back to Alexandra, to London, and heading to Philadelphia.

Relationships within the group continue to deepen and form, while secrets are slowly being revealed. Jess is a strange leader, but he is more of the one who can see the strength of everyone in the group and tries to heal the broken pieces they each might have.  While Jess and Morgan admitting feelings for each other was great, I think the more satisfying relationship moment was Khalila adjusting her hijab with Jess there. The two of them admitted that they each rely on the other, and consider the other family.  Jess realizes that his blood family is not where his true loyalties are. Wolfe must deal with his mother who he thought betrayed him, Santi must deal with helping Wolfe heal while trying to protect him. Glain, Dario, and Khalila all must leave everything behind and face what the Library is compared to the idea of what it should be. Thomas must deal with his time away from the group. Morgan tries to get Jess to understand that the Ivory Tower is a pretty prison, but a prison all the same. The idea of what the Library could be and should be is hopefully what the group of “traitors” and rebels will make it.  Only continued reading will tell what happens to the group and the Library.

The author does a great job at exposing the characters in a realistic pace while pushing the adventure and action. The world this group is in, feels scary and protective all at the same time. The reader is cheering for the team of rebels while caring for each member as you grow to know them better.

Character List/Book Summary:

Jess Brightwell = Great Library of Alexandra High Guarda, “former” smuggler, feels guilty about letting Morgan be taken to the Iron Tower, want to save Thomas, is assigned to Santi’s company. Learns through decryption of a secret text how to possibly defeat the automatons that go after those smuggling contraband and rebels. Fights to keep the group safe and together. Reluctantly goes to his family for help, thinking his bargaining chips will be knowledge, but does not get to trade those as he is abandoned by his family.  Realizes that if he had to pick he would side with Wolfe over his father.

Thomas Schreiber = Jess’s friend, was told the group died and the group was told he died, Jess did not believe it and used as many resources as he could to find Thomas.

Glain Wathen = superior office and Jess’s friend, Welsh, assigned to Santi’s company. Gets shot in the leg during the escape, and goes against doctor orders to stay with the group. Khalila helps her walk.  Glain states that Jess cares for Morgan, and maybe it is because she is a challenge. Glain also makes it clear she has not feelings for Jess and Jess makes it clear he does not have those feelings for Glain either.  Hints that Glain and Thomas have feelings for each other.

Dario Santiago = told Glain the Black Archives are real, physically changed in the 6 months since the last book ended, father is an ambassador. Attempts to go to the Embassy for help, but is turned against the group instead. Khalila and Glain watch him when he returns. Jess recognizes that the drop Dario set up is a trap and saves him from the automatons and being caught.

Captain Niccolo Santi = arrests Wolfe when he shows up in the middle of an exercise. Cares and protects Wolfe, does not want Wolfe involved with Jess and the group, but goes to protect Wolfe and the group. Has to turn against the Library which is hard for him, but easy since it is Wolfe he is also protecting and siding with.  Is not nice to Wolfe’s mother as he blames her for some of Wolfe’s sufferings.

Scholar Christopher Wolfe = led Jess’s postulate class, partner to Santi. Has been tortured because of his knowledge. His mother’s influence freed him, but he is still scared of what happened to him. Recognizes that Jess and his friends are the best chance to change the Library to what it should be and pushes Santi and the group to act.

Morgan Hault = does not want to be in the Iron Tower, realizes it is a prison, loves Jess. Escapes on what was scheduled to be her mating day.  Helps the group leave Rome, but can only get them to the Ivory Tower. Helps the group control an automaton lion and is used by Jess’s father because of her skills.  Jess realizes people keep using her and putting her in a prison. Jess tries to protect her, but feels he keeps failing.

Reb Ibrahim = smuggler, most famous smuggler in Alexandria, Jess goes to him for help in learning how the automatons work and how he might be able to defeat them. Tells Jess that his brother has stayed in Alexandria against his father’s wishes.

Anita = Red’s daughter, her two older brothers died, wants to learn the trade from her father. Makes a few deals with Jess.

Obsurist Keira Magnus = Wolfe’s mother, protects the group for a brief bit from the Archivist and Artifax Magnus. Jess witnesses her death as she saved the group by sending them to London.

The Archivist = wants Wolfe dead because of the knowledge he has about printing presses.

Scholar Khalila Seif = Jess’s friend, helps research where the Black Archives and Thomas might be hidden. Helps Glain when she is shot. Is torn between leaving her family behind and helping Thomas, but does not leave Thomas behind. Is scared her family might be hurt because of her acts of rebellion.

Artifax Magnus = a cruel man, the Archivist’s right hand man, both Dario and Khalila apply to work for him when they realize that he would have the access for them to find out about the Black Archives and the location of Thomas’s holding cell.

Neksa Darzi = Brendan’s girlfriend, possibly why he stayed in Alexandria. Brendan says he does not care about her and is trying to turn her so that he can bring this resource back to father.

Brendan = Jess’s twin, called scraps by Jess. Father wants him back in London to run the family business. Leaves with his father at the end of the book.

Elsinore Quest = Mesmer, worked with Wolfe to find out about a secret prison, knows if Wolfe does not deal with what was done to him it will crush him. May have mesmered Jess in the carriage.

Gregory = Obscurist that wants to take over Kiera’s position. Uses the group as a chess piece to get that position. Is in charge of pairing obscurists to try and make more. Wolfe points out how he is failing.

Dominic = who Morgan is assigned to mate with, red hair, freckles, does not want to mate with Morgan.

Sybilla = Morgan left her behind in the Iron Tower when she escaped. Took poison because she did not want to be in the Iron Tower any more.

Callum Brightwell = Jess’s father, uses the group for his own means while offering possible sanctuary to them.

Naomi = Scholar in St. Paul’s, recognizes the group and that they were with burners. Dario offers her a tag to get back to the Library instead of burn down with the building. Dario still has one left, as he pocketed two.

Kate = burner that appeared to be working with Callum and then turns on him letting him leave with Brendan but uses the group and Jess to head to Philadelphia.

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