Review: Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris Book 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. . .


– Awesome magic system? Check

– References to over 40 books, either directly or indirectly? Check

– Great characters? Check

– A genuine love of books permeating throughout the book? Check

You’re still here? Hmph. Okay. Fine. Let’s take a deeper look at these, shall we?

The Magic.

The magic system is fucking brilliant. Books exist. The collective belief in the world generated by the tens/hundreds/thousands of readers over time allow magicians known as Libriomancers to reach into the book and pull objects out. Awesome, right? Hines spent his time thinking about it. There are plenty of limitations on the system: it has to fit through the book (so you know, no T-Rex), over use a book and you’ll burn it to ash. Life doesn’t come through too well either. The Libriomancers have also taken it upon themselves to “seal” books that could be dangerous to our world (no One Ring for you, and there’s an amusing passage about Libriomancers tryingt to beg J.K. Rowling to stop writing about Time Turners). A side effect of this magic: book monsters exist. Most notably vampires. Everything from Meyerii (yes, Twilight) and  Sanguinarius Henricus (Southern Vampire Mysteries) even real-world mythological equivalent like the manananggal and of course, Sanguinarius Stokerus (if I have to tell you, I can’t speak to you anymore). It’s one of the most clever systems I’ve seen in ages.

The Books.

This is a book that is entertaining all on its own merits, but geeks will love this book so much more. There are book references everywhere, some subtle, some more overt – the book even comes with a bibliography of titles mentioned in the text! It never feels pretentious, but rather it fits into the world beautifully and the references made me smile.

The Characters.

Isaac is a great protagonist. He’s by no means a cipher, but it’s so easy to relate to him. That sense of joy, that desire to reach into a book and pull out the Harry Potter’s wand that actually works. He’s not perfect by any mean. He rushes in, he causes as many problems as he solves, and he’s a fucking fantastic librarian. He has a pet fire spider (I want one!) that he pulled from a novel. Lena is an interesting female protagonist. Her backstory is both interesting and kind of tragic. I think Hines did a good job of trying to define her, especially since it could have gone so horribly wrong.

A love of books.

Hines is no fake geek. His love of books and of reading and of imagination just permeates every page. He was happy writing it and it made me happy reading it. Books that genuinely make me happy when I read it are far and few between and will almost always make me inclined to recommend it.

Finally, the story is well constructed with a clever plot that moves along briskly and feels like just the right length. All in all, this book is just solid all the way around. This is a no brainer.

Verdict: Buy It

Available: Now

2 thoughts on “Review: Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris Book 1) – Jim C. Hines

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