Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, #1)
Jim C. Hines

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. . . .

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, #1) book cover

““Normal?” she repeated. “Yesterday you fed me cake from Wonderland so we could ride your spider into a magical basement and fight a vampire…””

Wow. Badass! This is a really cool book. It was May 2010 when I read the only other Hines title I’ve come across, which was the first in his Jig the Goblin series. I heard about Libriomancer what must have been a couple months back but had sort of shelved Hines in the “tryes-to-be-too-funny” department of my mental bookshelf. From the synopsis, I’d expected Libriomancer to be on the intelligence level of something by Blake Charlton and so had sort of put off reading it in case I was disappointed. Thanks to Michael, per usual, I cracked it open… and didn’t look back.

“You should not have pissed off the fire-spider!”

This book worked so well that I was pretty well hooked from the outset. I did feel a little as if things were going a shade over my head at the beginning, but looking at the length of the novel in retrospect things were paced and explained quite well. You often find, in novels with a magical component, a foil, depicted in such a way that the magic system is at least partially explained, and this usually through dialog. This was the case here, but there was the great added twist of Lena being a magical construct herself, which far-and-away surpasses the typical “I’m a helpless mundane along for the magical ride so explain things to me” concept more normally employed.

I’m not normally a fan of vampires, but they work here, and of course the literary angle, the entire ethos of the novel is done most superbly indeed. I grew up on heinlein, Wells and Doyle, and literally seeing parts of those works come to life on the page is an experience most wondrous. For any fantasy fan, for any reader, for any connoisseur of science fiction or fan of kickass weapons ( “Best. Sword. Ever!”), read this.

If I have one complaint it’s the ending, which I wont go into detail on because it might spoil things a little, and which is why this book isn’t quite a five. But it probably aught to be, for all that. It certainly kept me reading late into the night and kept me singing the next morning. Good books do that to me…

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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