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With the help of a ...
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. . . .
"Pretty much geek porn for the urban fantasy set. It’s meta-fictional and utterly awesome." — Tor.com
"This may be Jim Hines’s best work. Libriomancer is smart, silly, and deadly serious, all at the same time. It’s a book about loving books. This is the magic librarian and ass-kicking dryad adventure story we’ve all been waiting for."
— Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON
"All writers believe in the magic of books; Jim Hines has created a system where that magic becomes real, usable, and very definitely not always safe."
— Tanya Huff, bestselling author of the BLOOD BOOKS
"Secret organizations, supernatural threats, and an unknown killer of unimaginable power—Libriomancer is one of the best reads I’ve had in a long time. It’s a lightning-fast race against time and magic to prevent the darkest secrets from history from unleashing a supernatural war on the world. I can’t wait for the next one. Oh, by the way, never piss off a fire spider." — Lisa Shearin, national bestselling author of ALL SPELL BREAKS LOOSE
“This funny and fast-paced series opener...will be sure to surprise and entertain urban fantasy fans.... Isaac is sure to be an instant fan favorite, and the secondary characters are vivid and multidimensional.” — Publishers Weekly
Posted August 9, 2012
Squee!!!...Wow! Awesome! What a Ride!
Right after I put this book down, that was all my brain could function to come up with for a review.
It's a unique take on worldbuilding. Never at risk of interrupting the flow of the story or what the characters are going through; but, a wonderfully rich, developed piece of worldbuilding. Once reader accepts the basic premise, everything works. Even if you have not read the books mentioned. Instead of esoteric bits and pieces of books, he manages to just share a love of books and the wonderful worlds within that completely permeated the pages of this one without getting in the way of the story (and I was not lost even though had not read everything mentioned).
Isaac is a former field agent with the magic of libriomancy and one of three central characters. The story is told from his viewpoint and richly imaginative, often distracted, and occasionally lusty geek mind. He was retired from the field for overdoing things and plunked into a small library branch. Libriomancy is the power, within some logically presented limits and risk, to pull magic literally from books. The more thoroughly believed or widely read by readers, the more powerful and the more likely things happen like vampires becoming a part of the real world. Some potentially horrifying things within the pages of even the most beloved books caused a society to be created to handle the dangers. The plot revolves around one of the worst case scenarios including the society founder being kidnapped and a lot of their powers being used against them. Includes so much (like incipient war with the vampires), it is one helluva romp. But it all flows very well as only such a talented storyteller could do with so much to juggle. Very well done.
Where I said Isaac was one of three central characters--well, the next most central was Smudge. Yes, the spider-sized fire spider who was a pet of Jig the Dragonslayer. How such a tiny, nonspeaking, nontelepathic and rather uncommunicative character could become such a part of the book and come so much to life -- before reading this book I could not have imagined. But he does. And it's a grand element of the story that should be unbelievable but is not.
Another character literally showing up on Isaac's doorstep is Lena, a dryad and definitely a kickass (although not typical) heroine. Isaac's mentor, her lover, and several of their fellow libriomancers are endangered (or dead) from the events going on, either actively in the conflict, kidnapped by vampires or the yet unknown evil forces. They team up to get to the bottom of things.
A complex, tense, action filled plot. But I laughed out loud a lot. Isaac definitely has a great, warped sense of humor that goes over well despite all the more serious themes like free will that run through this book.
A complete story on the one hand (no buy-my-next-book-or-you-won't-have-story-finish cliffhanger) but definitely there is more to come. Isaac still has much to figure out on the evil forces, the libriomancer society seeing some changes, the love triangle resolution and all the other character lives.
Not really a part of this review or something I base purchases on, but, hey, is that a cool cover or what?
I know there's a hundred other plot points, character thoughts and actions and things I should mention. Despite the well flowing story, there was just so much going on a review is just not going to do it justice.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2012
Hines has a fabulous sense of humor. I think my favorite image from this book is when Isaac the magician loads himself down with weapons - he pulls a Dr. Who coat from a book and fills every pocket with ... more books. The characters in this book are entirely believable, and the action never lets up.
6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 24, 2013
I Also Recommend:
For readers who believe in the magic of the written word, can become lost within a book, or any institution that houses said items, and yearns to know the story behind the story, this book will be of interest. As a librarian I became fascinated with the concept and had to delve deeper than the short abstract provided.
Although a grate book, offering a little bit of every genera for book geeks; Know this is defiantly written for a young adult audience. Adults will find enjoyment but will find lacking in regards to stories written for a more advanced reader.
The book is strong and keeps an individual engaged but, does not leave the reader craving for more as much as other stories have done for me within this genera and age group.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2012
I'd have to say that this feels like a very unique urban fantasy. Granted, I have limited reading experience in that sub-genre, but the way the rules in this world work create some interesting effects. In the setting, magic is real and so are a number of different mystical creatures. But the main way magic is used in the story is to create almost any type of item from almost any book by literally pulling what is needed straight out of the pages. So we have a mystical world where our main character's prefered choice of equipment are ray guns and personal energy shields. There are a number of contradictions in the story that pop up like that. Magic is real, but pulling a wand out of a book won't let you start casting spells, because you don't have the skill in magic needed to put the wand to use. Our main character uses books for magic, but most of the important characters in the setting we are introduced to don't use the same type of magic. Pulling living beings out of books is a bad idea, unless you can figure out a loop hole. It feels like the author took a good long time in figuring out the rules of the world, and then looked for ways to bend them to as close to the breaking point as possible.
It does have a few problems here and there. I didn't much care for the romantic interest. She feels like she's a character from another book. Which I guess is the point, since she is from another book. But she's from a book where I'm not sure I would have made it past fifty pages before sending it to goodwill. So all of her "this is the way I am because this is the way I was written" gets annoying after a while. A part of me also wishes there was more of the real world in the story. After the first chapter, the reader is neck deep in secret organizations and mystical creatures and plots by different mystical powers. On some level, I would have enjoyed a simple murder using a untraceable handgun pulled from a simple detective story as a way to establish the magic system, before overlaying the various mystical groups. And seeing the plot threads that were left hanging for the next book in the series, I don't think simple is the direction the author is headed towards.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2012
I really loved this book! I will admit some of my affection is because
it is set in Michigan, and it's not very often I get to read about my
home state in a fantasy book. (Although it is not the first time.)
Beyond it's setting it is still excellent, the story line has a new
twist and the characters are likable, believable, and very funny. I
believe in the magic of books taking you away to new places, I love the
idea bringing things out of books. When I read the review I wondered if
it would be much like Inkheart, but no, not at all, other than both are
good books. I really look forward to reading the next one!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2012
A rollicking good read for anyone who likes reading as Jim Hines returns to a slightly more lighthearted style... but while still having a breakneck action-packed read. Highly recommended.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 21, 2015
Imagine all the times you’ve read something in a book and thought, “I wish I had that. I wish that was real.” Imagine being able to magically reach through the book’s pages, into the story itself, and pull out whatever that thing was, so long as it was no larger than the page of the book you were reaching through. This is what a libriomancer can do, and I suspect the very concept will excite long-time bibliophiles, because really, who hasn’t wished for this ability at some point in our lives?
Isaac Vainio is a libriomancer, in forced retirement from field duty and instead working as a librarian and researcher, searching through library books for any technology or other items that can be plucked from books that would be beneficial to the organization of others like him, known as the Porters. It’s not the most exciting life, or so he thinks until he’s attacked by a group of vampires, meets a dryad, and gets thrown headfirst into a conspiracy set to bring down the Porters, those guardians of bookish magic founded hundreds of years ago by Johannes Gutenberg himself.
This is the first book I’ve read by Hines, but I could quickly see why he’s such a popular author. His writing is very accessible, and it’s easy to sink into the story and hard to pull away. Hines has a good knack for stringing readers along on an exciting mystery and for telling a complex story in a way that’s not hard to understand. The mystery he writes is multilayered, too, appearing at first to be one thing but actually being more complicated that I first expected it to be, and for that I was very glad. I do love to sink my teeth into a good mystery, it turns out.
Hines also has a great talent for dropping book-related in-jokes in just the right proportion, to give the reader a grin without making the book feel like it’s getting too bogged down in name dropping or attempts at humour. Poking fun at sparklepires by having a branch of vampires known as Sanguinarius Meyerii was comedy gold, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s the kind of humour you’re in for when you read Libriomancer. Isaac’s viewpoint and observations are witty and amusing enough otherwise to carry the levity for the rest of the story. And there’s an extra layer of fun in playing Spot the Reference, for not everything that gets magically lifted from books is said outright, and not every novel or author mentioned are done in connection to each other. It’s a little added bit of amusement for avid readers, to try to see which pieces of which stories Hines is lifting and combining in his own wonderful way here.
Isaac on his own was an interesting character, but for my part, I was far more interested in Lena. Not to give too many spoilers, Lena is a creature from a book universe, caught up in extraordinary circumstances that allowed her to be born and to grow in this world. Her nature is to be largely a sexual companion to whoever she becomes attached to, her own personality shaping over time to best fit that of her partner. And while that’s a problematic concept, it was quite interesting to see the way she had come to grips with that aspect of herself. She didn’t try to suppress it or deny it, but learned about it, accepted it, and grew comfortable with it, as much as any of us can grow comfortable with our own natures. And she was far more than just some sexual conquest for Isaac, I have to say, because even though she accepted that it was a big part of herself, she was defined by far more than just her relationship to the leading man. She kicks butt in her own right, and I loved reading about her. She’s got an underappreciated strength, I think, the sort that doesn’t show itself by constantly kicking ass and taking names and always doing so with a sarcastic comment on her lips. Honestly, I love characters like Lena, because they feel far more real to me than most characters who strive to fit that “strong female role model” archetype (which I personally find about as narrow as the “housewife” archetype, but that’s a rant for another day).
The Magic Ex Libris series is one that I can easily see myself getting hooked on, not just for the cool concept of taking things from books and the implications thereof, but for the characters, whose stories are just starting to unfold and I want to see more of them. There are clearly more mysteries to be solved, more information to uncover about Gutenberg and about Isaac’s role in things, and I can’t wait to dive into the next book and see what it has in store. Definitely worth checking out if you want a good and light urban fantasy that plays with so many bibliophile dreams in new and exciting ways!
Posted December 31, 2014
Posted November 17, 2014
Posted April 4, 2014
If you are a book geek you will love this book. Half the fun is trying to figure out what books the hero is pulling his props from.
Then there is smudge...the cutest spider in fiction.
Posted February 18, 2014
The main character Isaac is a retired libriomancer. As a libriomancer Isaac has the power to reach into books and take items written about out of the book. Since he is retired he is now a librarian with a magic spider that when something bad is going to happen the spider goes up in flames. Vampires come to beat some information out of Issac, information about the magic community he has left. This fight brings retired libriomancer back in the magical world full force.
I love books that are about books, librarians, and reading. Finding a fantasy book about this character, the libriomancer, is probably a power that every lover of books and reader would love to have. Imagine taking excalibur out to fight with. A space age stun gun to stun enemies. Some libriomancer even took characters out of books like a dryads.
This book reminded me of The Magicians by Lev Grossman but not as serious. There was a lot more fun and humorous moments. The fact that the book says this is the first book in a series makes me jump for joy.
The only issue I had with the book is that it seemed short. I wanted more to read! I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series and maybe I should check out more books by Jim C. Hines.
Posted January 9, 2014
Fun adventure, memorable characters, and a magic system built for book lovers. Read this and you will find yourself staring off into space imagining what you would pull from the pages of a book first...and second...and third...
And seriously, how can you not love a pet fire spider?
Posted November 1, 2013
Posted October 20, 2013
The first volume in Hines' Magic Ex Libris series features terrific characters, some great action sequences, and imaginative use of literature. I really like the relationship between Isaac and Lena, and I totally want a fire spider like Smudge for my own. It took me a bit to get oriented at the beginning, and the middle slows down some, but it was still a quick and entertaining read. -- lyradoraWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 16, 2013
Posted September 27, 2013
Posted September 12, 2013
fresh take on magic. I loved the book mentions and using books as source of magic along with the hazards that come with using this magic. I look forward to the next book in this series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 10, 2013
We book-geeks have always known that stories are magical, right? They take you far away, in the companionship of amazing characters and kindred spirits, to places you either want desperately to run away to or to never see again. Hines comes up with the premise that each reader’s experience turns that fictional story into a bit of reality, and the more bits, the more powerful it becomes. With the invention of printing (yes, Johannes Gutenberg plays a role!) came the potential for thousands – tens of thousands – millions! – of readers creating the same reality because they are reading the exact same text. A sufficiently trained person-of-magical-talent can then draw objects from a book into the ordinary world. Picture going “on assignment” carrying a small library of books instead of weapons or gadgets. It’s quite delicious.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2012
For book lovers, this is the ultimate fantasy..the ability to pull something out of a book and use it. Libriomancer is an entertaining and readable urban fantasy, and a strong start to a possible series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2012