Review: Libriomancer by Jim C Hines

Libriomancer by Jim C. HinesFormat read: print book borrowed from the Library
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback, mass market paperback, audiobook
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Magic Ex Libris, #1
Length: 321 pages
Publisher: DAW
Date Released: August 7, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

My Review:

All books are full of magic. Of course they are. If you don’t believe that, then what the hell are you doing here?

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, just like it says on the title. He is someone who has the kind of magic that lets him pull objects out of books. And he’s a librarian. If that’s not the coolest job ever, I don’t know what is.

There’s just this one teeny, tiny problem. Isaac screwed up on his last job, and he’s been retired from the active magic-using thing. Now he just catalogs books that someone else might use to pull something out of of.

In other words, he can look, but he can’t touch. Bummer.

Until the vampires come to kill him. He IS allowed to use magic in self-defense. And all of a sudden, Isaac needs a LOT of defense. Especially when he finds out that the vamps are targeting all of the magic users like Isaac, because they think that the Porters (magic users) are targeting them.

The vamps seem to have picked up that idea about the best defense being a good offense, so they’ve started offending. All over the map.

Isaac needs to start pulling big guns out of every book he can lay his hands on. Because if he doesn’t get to the bottom of things, there’s going to be an all out vampire-mage war so big that no one is going to be able to hide it from the mundanes.

And then all hell is going to break loose. Assuming that it hasn’t already.

Escape Rating A: Books are magic. This book is especially magical if you love science fiction and fantasy. There is a ton of fanservice packed between these pages. And the story is just oodles of fun.

Of course Gutenberg was a wizard. It makes so much sense when you think about it. Printing press = magic! Hundreds of people, or even better, thousands, reading the exact same thing equals shared belief equals even better magic. This is the sort of belief system that whole cults get based on, why not fantasy worldbuilding?

But the idea that whole species of creatures could pop into being just because a book or series about them became popular was sheer genius. I dare you to think about Sanguinarius Meyerii and not laugh your ass off.

Back to the story, it’s a classic, it’s excellently done, and that’s what makes it so good. Isaac is the washed-up hero who gets a second chance. He’s all of us who want that one last shot at glory. He’s been beaten and broken and disappointed at himself and the universe, but he still has what it takes. Then it nearly takes him.

He never expects a happy ending. Just an ending. But like the song says, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”

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4 thoughts on “Review: Libriomancer by Jim C Hines

  1. I got Libriomancer a while back, at a Worldcon — Chicago? Reno? one of those — and Jim Hines was there so he autographed it for me. [beam] I agree that this is one of the most original and awesome magic systems ever, and I’ve read a lot of fantasy. And as a fan of Jim’s earlier books, I love seeing Smudge again, heh.

    I just got Codex Born yesterday, and so far it’s just as good. 😀


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