by Jim C. Hines
Fantasy author Jim C. Hines has slowly been building a reputation for himself as the master of humorous fantasy – territory dominated by the likes of Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin and Christopher Stasheff. Despite meeting Hines myself two years ago, when he was Author Guest of Honor at the second ConStellation NE scifi convention here in Lincoln back in 2011, I had not yet read any of Hines' novels or short stories, when I recently saw Libriomancer on display at a bookstore. The concept of a magic-using librarian caught my attention, of course, considering my career path, and I quickly devoured this first book in Hines' new series. As a long-time fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, I have to say that Libriomancer feels a little like Butcher-lite, but that's actually a compliment, considering how much I love that more-established series. The writing is strong, the characters, particularly Isaac Vainio (the protagonist) are well-realized and likeable. And, most important, Hines has created a magic-using system for his world that is intriguing and fresh – quite an accomplishment considering the glut of contemporary urban fantasy novels currently on the market. In Libriomancer's universe, certain individuals have the ability to physically reach into the content of published books and pull forth the items described therein for use in our world, before returning the items to the books' pages – items such as Arthur's sword Excaliber from Le Morte d'Arthur, or a laser blaster from a pulp scifi novel, or a miracle plague cure from a medical thriller. In other words, as all lovers of literature already know...books are magical, and true lovers of books have the ability to tap into that magic. The physical sizes of the books limit the physical sizes of the retrieved objects, and certain books are "locked" to prevent objects of great or deadly power from being manipulated in the "real world" – no Sauron's Ring in the hands of somebody in Middle America, if you please! In this volume, in addition to establishing the world Vainio lives in – filled with vampires, golems and power-mad magicians, Hines sets in motion a far-reaching and deadly plot for Isaac to confront. The pleasures of this book are in the fresh take on magic, and the witty banter between the characters, though I found some of the action sequences a bit muddled. I recommend it for fans of Butcher, Rachel Caine or Patricia Briggs. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Codex Born, the second volume in the series, which just came out in September 2013.]
[ official Jim C. Hines web site ]
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