Tag Archives: alternate history

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

This is the fifth and last book in the Great Library series. The family got to borrow it from a friend who ordered a copy of the book, which was great because I didn’t even realize it was out already.

Published: 2019

Genre: YA fantasy

Length: 354 pages

Setting: Alexandria, soon after the events of Smoke and Iron

Summary: Short version: The gang have to save the Great Library from internal and external attack Continue reading

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The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by Phenderson Djèlí Clark

Illustration by Odera Igbokwe. Follow the link to the story at Fireside Magazine

I recently saw a post about the nominees for the 2019 Locus Award. One of the Locus Awards is given for short stories. I checked and can access all of the nominees, so I thought I’d read and review them all. Since they’re awarded in June, I might even get them all reviewed before I find out who the winner is. Maybe. Anyways, here’s my first review of a nominee for the 2019 Short Story Locus Award. This story was also nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Short Story Awards.

Published: February, 2018 in Fireside Magazine

Genre: urban historical fiction

Setting: a United States with mythological creatures and magic, around the Revolutionary War time (late 1700s)

Summary: Short version: The person’s story behind each tooth George Washington acquires Continue reading

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Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

This is the fourth book in the Great Library series. We borrowed it from a friend because the library only has the first three books.

Published: 2018

Genre: YA alternate history/fantasy

Length: 448 pages

Setting: Alexandria, immediately after the events of Ash and Quill

Summary: Short version: Jess and his friends make their move to remove the Archivist

Long version: Jess and Dario have put into play a scheme to get them back to Alexandria. They put it into lace without telling anyone else but Morgan, since she’s critical to its success. Morgan is sent back to the Black Tower where she makes contact with Eskander, a powerful Obscurist. Wolfe is sent back to prison and he works hard to not allow the setting to break him. Jess is impersonating Brendan, his twin, in order to have some freedoms in Alexandria. The others are prisoners on a ship, being taken back to Alexandria by Anit. They hijack the ship and get support from the King of Spain. In Alexandria, the goal is to minimize bloodshed and encourage Scholars to support a regime change. The Archivist has planned a Feast of Greater Burning and developed a dragon automaton to hold onto power. Jess and his allies disrupt those plans, although the Archivist escapes.

Final thoughts: Delightful, if not quite as compelling as the first few. I certainly devoured the book since I needed to know what happened next. The book is chock full of peril. It’s a constant driving to a final confrontation. Perhaps that’s why I felt a little let down at the end. There was so much build up that the conclusion felt anticlimactic. It didn’t help that the Archivist escaped. That felt like a cheat to require one more book. Also, I didn’t appreciate Brendan’s death at the end. I felt like the author knew someone important had to die, but it couldn’t be than main characters. Therefore, Brendan is elected to be the sacrificial lamb.

This book was told from everyone’s point of view. That differed from the previous books but was necessary because the characters were split up. I enjoyed Morgan and Khalila’s chapters best. Morgan continued to rail against the restrictions placed on Obscurists. She does learn there are limits to even her great powers. I was happy Eskander was able to fix her so she was no longer an energy vampire. Khalila’s arc went the other way. She kept moving into leadership roles without actively seeking them out. I fully expect her to become the next Archivist. I still wonder what Jess’s role in the Library hierarchy will be. Everyone else is wonderful at their field (perhaps excessively so – I get annoyed when all the wonderful people come together. Where are the average people?), but Jess doesn’t really have a specialty.

Title comes from: It follows the naming convention of the series. Otherwise, I’m not really sure.

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #29 for 2019

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The Elissiad by Ahas Bardon

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: January, 2016 in Alt.History 102 (Future Chronicles Book 10)

Genre: alternate history/science fiction

Setting: ancient Carthage

Summary: Short version: The Goddess Tanit and God Baal were aliens trying to repair their spacecraft Continue reading

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Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

This is the third book in the Great Library series the kids and I are reading.

Published: 2017

Genre: YA alternative history/fantasy

Length: 338 pages

Setting: mostly Philadelphia, right after the events of Paper and Fire

Summary: Short version: Jess and his friends survive the Burners of Philadelphia Continue reading

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Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

This is the second book in The Great Library series. The kids and I loved the first book in the series so much we had to get the second book immediately.

Published: 2016

Genre: YA urban fantasy

Length: 354 pages

Setting: Alexandria, Rome, and London, soon after the events of Ink and Bone

Summary: Short version: Rescuing Thomas from the Library who is trying to control society Continue reading

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Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

This is the first book in the Great Library series. It came to my attention in a post on The Hub about books set in libraries (I’m a sucker for that subgenre – that and books about books). Miss Adventure picked up the second book in the series at our library, and I convinced her to request the first one.

Published: 2015

Genre: YA urban fantasy/alternate history

Font: Bembo

Length: 351 pages

Setting: mostly parts of England and Alexandria, an alternate version of the present

Summary: Short version: The Library of Alexandria is all-powerful and Jess learns that leads to corruption Continue reading


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