Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Libriomancer is an excellent book, even the second time around. There are some spoilers here. However, I’m of the firm opinion that if spoilers ruin a book, then the book must not have been built on much in the first place.
Description: 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. . . .
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Things I Liked: This is my type of book. The author establishes the characters quickly and brings them to life. I enjoyed reading about Isaac’s adventure as well as his past and what got him exiled from magic. Along the way, Hines crafts magic into a fun character to read and learn about as well. The rules of magic make sense. I know why Isaac doesn’t just “use magic” to get out of a jam, because he needs the correct book to do so. Reading the main character reach into the Star Wars novel and pull out a lightsaber was so fun! Further, there are so many fun fantasy and SciFi references that made me like Isaac more and understand him. That really helps me enjoy his adventure more. I like the supporting cast of Lena and Smudge. They do a great job of helping Isaac out in a way that fits those characters.
Things I Didn’t Like: I really had to nitpick to find something I didn’t like, as I enjoyed the book that much. As much as I enjoy the magic of the book, it leaves too many questions. I don’t understand the connection between sorcerer and libriomancy. It seems as if there should be a hierarchy between the two, with sorcery coming out on top. Gutenberg seems to be too powerful as a libriomancer to do all of the things he has done. Indeed, his iron grip on the organization seems strange to me as he comes off as a bully, although that is Isaac’s point of view. Further, I don’t understand how Gutenberg made the automatons when that doesn’t fit libriomancy. These are nitpicks, though, as it is only in thinking about it that I have these questions.
Conclusion: This is a solid start to a series. It has a self-contained adventure while setting up the next one as well. Even if there wasn’t a next book, I got good closure on the story and a good idea of what the characters were going to do next. I do have questions, lots of questions, about the nature of magic, about Gutenburg and the setup, and what will happen next. It leaves me wanting more and that’s a good thing.
Our reviews in this series…
If you like this book…
I think anyone who likes the geeky humor here would definitely want to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and the Allie Beckstrom novels by Devon Monk would also be good choices to delve into urban fantasy where the magic is consistent and important to the story.