Series: Magic ex Libris #1 | Publisher: Del Rey | Published: August 2013 | This edition: Paperback* | My rating: 5/5
Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer – a member of a secret society founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. He is gifted with the magical ability to reach into books and draw forth objects.
But when Gutenberg vanishes without a trace, Isaac finds himself pitted against everything from vampires to a sinister, nameless foe who is bent on revealing magic to the world at large… and at any cost.
I want to be a Libriomancer. I mean, let’s face it, what book nerd wouldn’t? Being able to use magic to bring objects out of books and into the real world? That would beat toys and replicas any day!
Seriously, though. My bookish, geeky self loved this one. The concept of Libriomancy hooked me, and the story itself followed through wonderfully well.
What I liked most about Libriomancer, though, is how fresh it feels as an urban fantasy, and how cleverly Hines takes his concepts and realises them – without ever really letting that concept overshadow the story. I mean, it’s a pretty cool concept, let’s face it. The ability to draw objects forth from books gives you an awful lot of cool stuff to play with, especially if, like Isaac, the one doing the drawing is a fantasy and sci-fi geek (respect!).
The cynical might call the “product placement” a gimmick, but if so it’s a gimmick that Hines keeps a firm hold of. The real hook, beyond this geeky pleasure, are the characters.
Isaac Vainio might be a Porter – a member of Gutenberg’s centuries-old society of Libriomancers – but as the story begins, he’s been relieved of field duty and is passing his time as a small-town librarian after an incident in the field a few years before. There are some lingering hard feelings over this, but it becomes clear soon enough that Isaac is determined to do good with his magic despite his past mistakes – with or without the help of his fellow Porters…
Then there are his personal relationships. Namely, with the ass-kicking dryad bodyguard, Lena Greenwood. As a dryad, Lena was created from an acorn – one that was stolen from a book by another Libriomancer, long before Isaac met her. Her purpose in life has a definite bearing on the growing relationship she has with Isaac, and while I won’t go into details and get spoilery, I will say that this romantic angle between them had me as fascinated as the broader plot did. Hines takes an interesting approach to Le Romance with these two, and my intention to read Book 2 of this series has as much to do with seeing what becomes of that as it does with loving the setup for the series or the magic system involved.
Not that those things aren’t awesome, because they are.
The story is fast-paced, full of mystery and peril and (gimmick or not) awesome tricks, and above all, it’s undeniably fun. It’s exactly what I look for in an urban fantasy story, yet still manages to offer up something different. Absolutely worth every one of those five stars, and if you haven’t read it yet, then get thee to a bookshop!
I will certainly be putting Jim C. Hines on my “must-read authors” list. I mean, come on. The man wrote a FIRE SPIDER into the cast of his book and I barely even squirmed.
Okay, I squirmed once – but only because it set someone’s head on fire… Anyway! Yes. Read this book.
* My copy of this book was received from the publisher.