Smoke & Iron by Rachel Caine – Blog Tour
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon*
Hello everyone! So, today is a huge day or rather a huge blog post! Oh yes, today I am on the blog tour for Smoke & Iron* by Rachel Caine, the fourth in the brilliant Great Library series*! I read all four books within the last couple of days (read three just between yesterday and last night!) and OMG they’re so good!!!!! I’ll tell you how in a bit but seriously sooooooo awesome!!!
Speaking of awesomeness, this really will be a spectacular post: I’ve a (non-spoilery) review, a character card, a (possibly spoilery) excerpt, and TWO giveaways (one is exclusively for you guys, and one is for the entire tour!) so definitely stick around!!! First, here’s the non-spoilery synopsis, via Goodreads:
To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.
The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.
Sounds mysterious and vague and interesting, eh? Now, I’ll get into my non-spoilery review….
OHMYGOSH EXCUSE ME?!?!?! WHAT WAS THIS BOOK?!?!? THIS WAS AWESOME?!?!?!? AND WHY DID IT END LIKE THAT?!?!? WHO ALLOWED THIS!?!?!? EXCUSE YOU!!?!?!? RACHEL HOW DARE YOU END IT LIKE YOU DID AND WHY WOULD YOU HURT MY HEART LIKE THAT YOU KNOW I’M SENSITIVE (lol jokes) BUT STILL WHY
other than that hurty-ness of the end and me having to reread it several times because I couldn’t believe it (AGHHHHHHHHHHHH) everything was awesomeeeeeeeee like ok so it’s not a spoiler to say there are multipleeee POVs in this book which is new because all the other books before only have Jess’ POV but this one has more than just Jess’ and OMG I LOVED ITTTTTT I live for multiple POVs and, honestly, it was brilliant and lovely to read more than just the one after reading Jess’ (even tho I love Jess and appreciate him but after 3 books it was fresh and new to read more than just his and I appreciate that too lol) BUT AHHHHHHHHHHHH and each of them carried their voice and character and personality so strongly and amazingly ?!?!?!?! and Khalila is still my favoritest character ever and throughout the entire series she is done soooooo well (seriously one of my fave Muslim reps) and I love it and I am so happy and this book was beautiful and I AM DYING FOR THE NEXT ONE I NEED IT YESTERDAY but omg I can’t wait for you guys to read it and I am so in love with this series and these characters and the plot omggggggggggggggg thank you to the Giggling Bookworm for getting me into this series i love it soooooo much!!!!! PS I LOVE THE EGYPT-NESS IN THIS ENTIRE BOOK AND THAT IS ANOTHER REASON I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH
[Related – 2018 World Cup: Pick A Country, Get A Book Rec]
So, ya, all in all, a pretty stellar read (understatement of the year aahhaha) and I am soooooooo beyond excited for the fifth (and I think final?) book!!!! Now, it’s for the giveaways (you can enter into both!), and then the character card and excerpt since they go together:
Giveaway #1 (aka the exclusive giveaway for all you lovely readers) – one of you lucky people will win a signed (ahhhh) hardcover of Smoke & Iron!!!! You can enter for that here!
Giveaway #2 (aka the one for the entire blog tour) – another lucky person will win a signed hardcover SET (yes, all four books 😱!) of the entire Great Library series!!! You can enter in for that here!
Good luck on the giveaways and may the odds be ever in your favor ;)!!
Finally, I have a character card of, and an excerpt from, the POV of one of my favorite characters in the series: Thomas!!! I love Thomas so much and relate with his love of creating and inventing so I am so lucky to be able to show his character card (to the left) and an excerpt from his POV (below)! Anyways, have you guys read the Great Library series yet? If so, I’d love to know what you thought of it and who your favorite character is!! If not, well, what are you doing lol?! Start reading Ink and Bone* (book #1) now! Let me know in the comments below!! Thank you, good luck on the giveaways, have a great day/night and tata for now!!
Working was what kept him steady, and so he spent the hours in the workshop of the Spanish embassy. It had been built by a competent engineer—he could see that at a glance; walking into it had made him feel at home in a way few things could these days. The smell of tools, oils, freshly lathed wood and metal.
“I hope this is to your liking,” said Ambassador Santiago He stood in the doorway surveying the large room, and clearly not much familiar with the tools, presses, vise benches, and materials carefully placed for convenience. “My artisans use it, as do my soldiers. Is there anything you might need that you don’t see here?”
“Yes,” Thomas said. He walked over to a stack of read-made rifle barrels and checked the alignment by rolling one on the table. Straight and true. That was good. Very good. “I’ll need a diamond. A large one, please.”
“A—” He’d succeeded in putting a Santiago at a loss for words. “I see. How large, precisely?”
Thomas showed him with a space between two fingers. Not a small space. “About this,” he said. “And as flawless as you can find, please. If there are rubies and sapphires, those will also be welcome.”
The ambassador’s expression was priceless. Thomas was mildly sorry that Jess wasn’t here to see it. “Are you … making some kind of jewelry?”
“This clearly isn’t the time for that,” Thomas said. “No. I am making a weapon. One capable of bringing down a flying automaton. And I think you would agree, it is something we very badly need.”
“Do you want an assistant? I can send someone—”
He missed Jess, but Jess had other concerns. “No. Just the gems, please. And if there’s food, have someone bring some? I forgot to eat.”
“Of course.” The ambassador clearly thought he was insane, but Thomas paid no attention to that, or to the man’s departure. He had only a few hours to do what he needed to do, and much to avoid thinking about. With quick, precise movements, he pulled four barrels, checked each one, and then moved on to retrieve the thinnest wire on the shelves. It was expertly drawn and perfectly formed, and as he measured and cut what he needed, he remembered the makeshift, laughable device he and Jess had cobbled together out of hope and scraps in Philadelphia. Amazing it had worked even once, much less held together long enough to save their lives.
He’d made improvements on his design since then, and now, as he imagined the three- dimensional plans he’d so carefully constructed in his head, he knew what he was creating was, in its way, as dangerous as the press the Library feared so much. High Garda weapons were deadly, but they had limited ranges.
This weapon—at least, theoretically—could strike any target at any distance, so long as it traveled in a straight line. In theory, if powerful enough, it could cross the distance between stars, the way starlight reached the earth.
Light was the most ephemeral of forces, and yet one of the most powerful. It had properties of gas and liquid and solid. Pure light, solid light . . . that was an astonishing and dangerous thing. And once he had created it and used it in public, where others could see . . . he could not control how it would be used in other hands.
So be it. Just now, he couldn’t think of the future, or of anything else beyond what would come when the new day arrived.
One part at a time, he machined the pieces he needed for not one but four separate Rays of Apollo. He had no written plans, but he didn’t need them; he had the image in his mind, and he could spin and enlarge and match pieces to it at will. He worked quietly and surely, building each piece with care, and when food arrived he ate without even looking at what the Spanish had provided him and drank whatever had come with it. His concentration stayed on the plans and the parts and the quiet, intense satisfaction when a piece fit perfectly with the next.
At some point, the ambassador must have returned, because he turned to see a black leather case on the table beside him and put the carefully assembled weapon—the first of four—aside to open it.
Inside sat the largest, most perfect diamond he’d ever seen. The size of a baby’s hand, and when he put it to the light—morning light, he realized, beginning to reflect from the distant golden cap of the Serapeum—the light exploded into perfect rainbows around him. Flawless.
It would do.
Next to it sat five other stones: two rubies, a truly enormous emerald, and two sapphires of unusual clarity. The note with them said, Spain will expect these returned, Scholar Schreiber.
Thomas examined and discarded one of the rubies and—with regret—the emerald, which simply wouldn’t fit without alterations he knew the ambassador would frown on. Then he began to add the stones to the weapons, fixing them in place with the mounts he’d added for that purpose.
Now he needed power.
He walked out of the workshop into the embassy, ignoring the polite inquiries of the few staff about at this hour (who were, he vaguely noticed, packing things as if to move). The questions became less polite when he ripped open the control panel he found in a maintenance closet and stripped out the power supply for the chemical glows. The room plunged into inky darkness, except for the rising glow of dawn through the windows, and the questions turned into demands.
He was ripping away the fourth power supply when the guards surrounded him, and a very harried, tired- looking man in a silk robe came into the room, took everything in at a glance before the power went out, and shouted for the guards to hold their fire.
A shot went off, but it missed him, and Thomas shoved his way through and into the embassy entry hall, which had better light from the east-facing windows. Some of the guards and servants were activating portable glows, and the ambassador was speaking to him, but Thomas wasn’t listening. He was closely examining the contacts and matching the power flow of these particular units against the requirements of the Ray; they were complicated mathematical calculations, and he truly didn’t have time to spare for the man. He hadn’t destroyed anything. Merely borrowed. Even now, a servant of the residence was plugging in new power supplies and the lights were coming back on.
Though he supposed he could have asked. It was simply that he was so close to finishing his task that communicating with someone else was a waste of time he couldn’t spare.
The ambassador, thoroughly exasperated (at least, that was what Thomas gathered from the way he threw up his hands), stalked away to berate Scholar Wolfe, who stood watching from the stairs.
Ja. This would serve. All the calculations fit. He’d need to install some fittings to secure the power supply and make it simple to replace, but it would do until he could spend the time to create something better.
When he finished, it was full light outside. Morning. And as he looked at the four weapons he’d built, the terrible power of them he’d harnessed, the focus broke inside him, and all the things he hadn’t allowed himself to feel rushed back in.
He sat down, hard, on a workbench and put his head in his hands. His breath came faster, and then faster still, an engine turning in his chest that he couldn’t control.
And he didn’t know why.
Someone called his name, but he couldn’t look up or answer. It wasn’t until her weight settled in next to him and he smelled the soft jasmine scent of her perfume that he knew Khalila had joined him. Her hands rested gently on his shoulder and his back. She was saying his name.
He couldn’t get his breath. The engine inside him was racing, faster and faster, and he saw black spots now, and his hands trembled like an old man’s.
“Thomas, put your head down. There. Slow, deep breaths. In through your nose, then out through your mouth. You’re all right now. You’re safe. You’re safe.”
Whether it was her even, quiet voice or the gentle pressure of her hands, he began to listen and follow her advice. It helped push back the dizziness, the spots, the panic that had threatened to send him to a very dark place. When his breathing slowed, he sent her a quick, guilty glance. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know—”
“I do,” she said. “You’re afraid. We’re all afraid. Do you feel a little better?”
He nodded. “I suppose—suppose I felt very alone for a moment. When I’m making something, there’s nothing else, and then … it’s gone. And it’s only me.” He managed a smile. “And I am sometimes not quite enough.”
“Because of Rome?”
“Yes.” He didn’t want to talk about that yet, though he knew—and Wolfe had quietly told him—that only talking would ease the pressure building inside of him. “I needed to make something to help us. This was all I could think of. Is Jess—” She shook her head, and he didn’t finish the question. “He’ll be all right. He’s a survivor, our Jess.”
“Yes,” she said, and her arm slid into the crook of his, holding tight. “I hope Dario is.”
“Dario?” Thomas blinked. He’d missed something in his preoccupations. He’d been working so intently that he’d ignored everything, and perhaps … perhaps he shouldn’t have. “What about him?”
“He was taken,” she said. Her voice remained steady, but he felt the tremor in her. “He’s—I don’t know, Thomas. I hope he’s alive. I pray he is. If he isn’t …”
“He is,” Thomas said, and put his arm around her shoulders. She felt slight and fragile, but he knew her strength, too. “We will all be all right.” To his surprise, he almost believed it. “We’ve come so far, and through so much. And if I’m wrong, and today is the end of it …”
“I couldn’t ask for better friends to have at my side,” Khalila finished, which was exactly his thought. “I know. I feel the same.” She hesitated a moment and then said, “Do you want to tell me about Rome?”
“No,” he said. “I want you to pick up one of those and come with me.”
She slipped off the bench and took up one of the sleek new weapons. She seemed surprised when she lifted it. “It’s lighter than I thought.”
“Yes. I thought of some improvements. Be careful of the trigger.” He picked up the one on the other end and led her out of the workshop through the back door. The dawn had that strangely magical glow to it, thick with morning dew, a soft and shimmering color that faded from blazing orange to gold to blue, and to the west still clinging stubbornly tonight. The garden they’d entered had a stone wall built around it, and Thomas nodded at the far end of it. “There. Shoot.”
“I—” Khalila gave him an uncertain look but hefted the weapon competently enough. Wolfe’s training, and hard lessons in survival. She sighted, took a breath, and pressed the guarded trigger.
A beam of solid red light poured from the barrel and struck the wall, and the wall simply . . . vanished with a crack and a sudden puff of steam. No, it melted. Thomas blinked, and his brain made involuntary heat- transfer calculations, and he looked back at Khalila. “Is it hot to the touch?”
“Warm,” she said. “But not too hot, no. I only fired it for a second.”
Thomas nodded, raised his gun, and sighted as well. He fired at the newly shortened wall, and once again, it cracked, hissed steam, and melted into a thick, reddish mass on the ground. As he watched, the melted stone cooled to dull crimson, then black, like lava.
He checked the power reserve gauge on each of the weapons and nodded. “Good. They should each handle four or five of such bursts. Fewer, if the trigger is held longer.”
Khalila looked glad to hand hers back to him. “I suppose we need them,” she said. “But they’re—”
“Powerful,” he said. “Yes. And dangerous. But we need to be dangerous now, don’t we? If we want to survive?”
She nodded. And though he didn’t want to, he knew they were both thinking of the same question.
At what cost?
Check out the rest of the blog tour for Smoke & Iron*!
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon 😀