This book is a love letter.

Within its pages, books are magic. They come alive. Libriomancy allows certain gifted individuals to pull forth objects from the pages of books and use them in our world. From the time Gutenberg himself became the first Libriomancer when he invented the printing press, libriomancy has been used to guard against dark forces that might leak from the pages of mass produced books.

Now, someone is killing off Porters – magical members of the organization founded by Gutenberg himself. Isaac Vainio – a Libriomancer pulled from field work for excesses of magic – might be the Porters’ last chance. Will he, along with his dryad companion Lena Greenwood and his pet fire-spider Smudge, save the Porters and the world?

There is something fundamentally satisfying about a super powered librarian who can reach into a book and pull out exactly what he needs to fight vampires and killer automatons. Brains BECOME brawn. Not without a price, as readers soon discover – but when stakes are raised, the choices narrow and sacrifices must be made.

The pace of this book raced along, with mild pit-stops along the way, as the libromancing librarian stops to arm himself with books and conduct research. The mystery unravels slowly, with twists and turns as the plot progresses. Lena and Smudge assist Isaac – both as moral support and very effective guardians. And, of course, cameos are made by some classic science fiction tropes – Isaac’s specialty – so fans of Douglas Adams and Doctor Who will not be disappointed.

Toward the end of the book there is some unorthodox sexuality that distracted me from the finer points of the plot. There was nothing gratuitous or explicit, and the author tied it strongly to the dynamics between characters. However, I felt the situation stretched credulity in a book in which I was otherwise willing to suspend my disbelief.

Also, the subject of e-books is never mentioned in a story where books play such a prevalent role. Libriomancy is tied-in to the fact that certain mass-produced books are consumed in large quantities, so e-books would seem to create advantages for the modern libriomancer. Yet the possibility of e-readers – or even books via cellphone apps – is noticeably absent. Considering the abundance of e-books in today’s world, and the fact that I read Libriomancer as an e-book, I thought the omission a striking one.

However, if you not only love books but are in love WITH books, if you believe they are magic and can take you to other worlds, than this is the book for you. You won’t be disappointed.

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5 Responses to Review: Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines

  1. Hey, dueling reviews are back!

  2. Have you read any of Jim’s other work? As it turns out, Smudge is tuckerized from Jim’s own fiction…

  3. ganymeder says:

    I’ve read some of his Princess series, but I didn’t recognize Smudge from that. But yay, dueling reviews!

  4. ganymeder says:

    Those are on my TBR list. ;)

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