- Series: Magic Ex Libris (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: DAW; First Edition; First Edition edition (August 6, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756408164
- ISBN-13: 978-0756408169
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 99 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris) Hardcover – August 6, 2013
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Praise for the Magic ex Libris series:
"I picked up the book meaning to read a few pages. My first thought was, ‘This is a cool concept.’ The second thing I thought was, ‘This is really, really clever.’ The third thing I thought was, ‘I should have gone to sleep three hours ago.’”
—Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wise Man's Fear
“This may be Jim Hines’ 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 Chimes at Midnight
“Butt-kicking librarians, pyrotechnic spiders, and vampires that don’t suck—Jim Hines serves up an incendiary and fun new urban fantasy!”
—Charles Stross, Hugo award-winning author
“Libriomancer not only pulls magic from between the pages of books—from Gutenberg to Harris—but puts it there under Hines. This is a book for everyone who has ever wanted to pull Excalibur from the page.”
—Tanya Huff, bestselling author of The Silvered
“Nonstop action and laughter power Hines’s riveting second journey into the ‘peculiar life’ of Isaac Vainio…. Like a good pinball game, Isaac’s adventures are frantic, fascinating, and more than a little noisy. Hines supplies everything a reader needs – werewolves, ghosts, robot insects, a fire spider that eats candy, and homages to classic SF – for a very good time.”
"Hot damn, this book is pure geeky fun.... [A] love letter to science fiction and fantasy, with real emotional weight at the center of it — except this version is a rollicking adventure story full of ridiculous little touches. It's a seriously fun ride."
"An incredibly readable story that’s straightforward without being predictable, and action-packed without being rushed. The main and supporting characters alike have complex and chaotic relationships and histories, and I look forward to seeing these unfold further in the books to come."
“Isaac Vainio is a hero for the rest of us, the library nerds and bookworms.... [Libriomancer] is ardent wish fulfillment with a hefty dose of action, romance, literary pop trivia and just a pinch of social commentary.”
—RT Book Reviews
"Whenever I open a Jim Hines novel, I expect to have a good time – humor mixed with some soul pondering, deep character development, fast action, and snappy dialogue. So I was unsurprised that Libriomancer had all of these things in spades, plus a unique use of magic and a fractured and cobbled together cosmology that makes complete sense as a whole. What I didn’t expect was to see myself in the pages. With Isaac Vainio, Hines has created a protagonist who not only knows and loves the same geek pop culture that I do, but who has a passion for books as deep as my own."
About the Author
Jim C. Hines has been a paid juggler, earned a black belt in two different martial arts, performed yo-yo tricks at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and lived with a brain-damaged squirrel. (Only three of those are true.) One of his earliest stories earned first place in the Writers of the Future contest. He’s published more than forty short stories as well as numerous fantasy novels, including the humorous Jig the Dragonslayer trilogy, the Princess series, which re-imagines traditional fairy-tale princesses as butt-kicking action heroines, and the Magic Ex Libris series, about a centuries-old secret society dedicated to the use and control of book magic. In 2012, he won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife, two children, and an unstable number of pets. He can be found online at www.jimchines.com.
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Lena, a dryad born of mediocre and sexist writing of a schlock fantasy author from the 1960s, and Nidhi (Lena's other friend and lover, although merely friends with Isaac-- you have to read the book to figure it all out!) join Isaac in his inventive battle against the forces arrayed against them, which include a giant metal dragon that attacks the library.
To be honest, I enjoyed the first book more, as Mr. Hines had to spend a lot more time describing how his system of libriomancy works-- it is rare to find a completely new system of magic after reading fantasy novels for fifty years! This second book is still very good, but more plot-driven. Its ending is rather dark, too, so I'm glad that the book's epilogue points to a third book to follow.
I loved learning more about Lena the dryad, both from her own narrative and in the story. She's a wonderful, fascinating character, with almost superpowers in some ways but serious intrinsic weaknesses in others. Excellently done and handled!
The plot is very complexz, and- which is rare in urban fantasy- NOT restricted to 2 sides. Bothe the "bads" and the "goods" have internal conflicts of priorities and goals, and these impact the way things play out. Even more, characters are conflicted and ambiguous about their own goals, and how well their "side" is going to let them achieve these goals. And it's not a simple matter of sowing division; the reasons why people hook up with one "side" or another are diverse, and that affects their reactions to what that "side" is doing, and how or whether they wish to cooperate with such. Nicely done! and far more subtle than most UF I've read recently.
The shout-outs to various books are a lot of fun. Also, I really liked that Isaac, our main protag, is so CURIOUS! When faced with a difficult situation, if it doesn't require an immediate response, his reaction tends to be "Hmm. Let's figure this out!" I LOVE that.
I am very much looking forward to #3. Do consider reading this series if you are a F/SF fan, and like books where that is honored!
Codex Born gets right into the thick of it pretty quickly. The reader is spared long passages of recap, which is refreshing for a fantasy series. This book focuses more on the character Lena Greenwood, which I found really enjoyable. Lena is a strong, positive female character that is frankly just entertaining to read. I liked the passages written in her POV at the beginning of every chapter, even if the ultimate reason for their being there is a bit anti-climatic.
I liked that Jim C. Hines was able to bring us back into the world of libriomancy in a new, exciting way. The pacing is quite similar to the first book in the series; quick, with very little wasted time, though I think the conflict wasn't really as interesting as in the first book. There was a lot of build-up in the this book, and the last book, regarding the 'ghosts' and their personal hatred towards Isaac. I kept expecting it to be answered, and it wasn't, really.
All the same, I liked a lot of the new characters that were introduced, particularly Jeff the werewolf and Guan Feng. There were a lot of other satellite characters which I imagine will be called upon in further books, but lent to a bit of 'character soup' in the narrative--I kept forgetting names towards the end.
***POSSIBLE SPOILER BELOW***
The book has a very strong finish, which made me waver on my rating; I really wanted to give it five stars.... but ultimately the confusion over the antagonists' motives, and especially those motives with Isaac in particular (he seems to be bullied by big baddies for very little reason), left me wanting. The villain for this arc, Harrison, is unbelievably powerful for a man that only had a year to learn how to wield his magic, and create all of the monsters from the scrapyard.
I found myself reading Codex Born waiting for the charm to hit. But it never did. Not in the way it did in the first book. There was more whimsy in the first book. But in this one? Not so much. Beginning with a murder mystery we follow Libriomancer Isaac Vainio's quest to discover who murdered a wendigo. This sets us down a path that causes a bunch of battles, some really cool history about the pre-Gutenberg world, some excellent exploration of what it is to be a dryad, and then a climactic battle that changes everything for Isaac. Perhaps that's the problem with this book - too much fighting. Not enough exploring. But that's my personal bias and not a defect of the book. And where is Ponce de Leon? Not cool to leave him out!
I still liked the book enough to finish it. I still like the world. I wish I could live in it. But while I would love to reread the first book, I don't know that I want to reread this one. And that says it all, I think.