The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word

I received a free copy of The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman from the publisher in return for review consideration; receipt of a free copy has not affected my opinion or the contents of this review. The Mortal Word is a fantasy novel which was published by Pan Macmillan in the UK in November 2018.

Below is the Goodreads synopsis of the book:

A corrupt countess
A spy in danger
And an assassin at large

The fifth title in Genevieve Cogman’s witty and wonderful Invisible Library series, The Mortal Word is a rollicking literary adventure.

Peace talks are always tricky, especially when a key diplomat gets stabbed. This rudely interrupts a top-secret summit between the warring dragons and Fae. As a neutral party, Librarian-spy Irene is summoned to investigate. She must head to a version of 1890s Paris, with her assistant Kai and her detective friend Vale, where these talks are fracturing. Here, she must get to the bottom of the attack – before either the peace negotiations or the city go up in flames.

Suspicions fly thick and fast and Irene soon finds herself in the seedy depths of the Parisian underworld. She’s on the trail of a notoriously warlike Fae, the Blood Countess. However, the evidence against the Countess is circumstantial. Could the killer be a member of the Library itself?

I’m a huge fan of the Invisible Library series, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to read and review the book. And I’ve got to say that this is one of my favourite instalments to date!

After the dramatic events of The Lost Plot, Irene’s in late 1800s Paris for Fae/dragon peace talks. As could probably have been expected, things don’t go to plan, and Irene finds herself responsible for trying to prevent the peace talks from completely falling apart. The story works really well as both an instalment in the overall series, and as a standalone work. The book’s plot is fast-paced, but there are still funny moments and tons of character development. Overall, it feels like a really well-rounded book.

I love Irene as a main character, and in The Mortal Word, she’s really coming into her own. She’s developed a reputation amongst major players across the worlds, but her position as a neutral party in these talks pushes her skills and knowledge to a whole new level. I really enjoyed watching her take on a new role in this story, and using everything she’s learnt in previous books to show why she’s got this reputation, and why people should stop underestimating her.

We also have the return of her wonderful sidekicks, Kai and Vale. One of the reasons I love this series so much is because of the relationships between these three characters. They may not always see eye to eye, they may not always do the right thing by each other, but you never doubt the depth of their love and affection for each other. I love too that they learn from one another, and are able to see how the others might react in a situation and use that to their advantage. Plus, the romantic link between Irene and Kai, which I have long held up as wonderful because they’re able to recognise that their feelings can’t always take precedence when they’re trying to save the world/a number of worlds/an interdimensional library, goes through some changes in this book, and I am so here for it.

One of the key elements of this series is the complex relationship between the dragons and the Fae. It takes centre stage here, but Cogman has done a great job of balancing backstory here with the plot of this instalment, so a new reader would definitely understand the links between the two parties, but followers of the series get to see their understanding deepen.

There are also some great villains in this book. I’m not going to say much more about them, because part of fun of the story is uncovering the different layers of treachery, running through the talks. For long-time readers, there’s also the continuing threads of Irene learning more about the Library and trying to understand her place and work out who she can and can’t trust.

I loved The Mortal Word, both as an individual story and as the latest instalment in one of my favourite series. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves books, dragons, and high stakes adventure managed with a light touch.

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