Craig's Reviews > Libriomancer

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
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Aug 27, 12

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bookshelves: 2012, fantasy, fiction, magic, science-fiction, urban-fantasy, vampires
Read from August 25 to 27, 2012

I wish I could give the book 3.5 stars. I might change my rating in the coming weeks after a bit more reflection.

Libriomancer was made for bibliophiles. There are constant references to dozens of books from Dune, The Odyssey, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Dr Who and many more: if you love science fiction and fantasy novels you’ll really enjoy yourself. I picked up Libriomancer because I was intrigued by the idea of being able to pull objects from the pages of my favorite books, the possibilities seemed endless and exciting. When the protagonist, Isaac Vainio, used this ability in the first 20 pages to vaporize three Twilightesque vampires, affectionately referred to as Sparklers, I knew I made the right choice and this would be a fun read.

At times Libriomancer reminded me of the Dresden Files: they’re both written in first person, take place in a modern American setting and Issac and Harry both do what they think is right regardless of the rules or danger. Additionally, both protagonists are constantly outmatched by their foes but through force of will, luck and friends are able to overcome impossible odds. This comparison shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of Hines or Butchers work I love Dresden Files and Libriomancer stands on its on with a unique, complex and interesting magic system, and compelling characters. I’m looking forward to the next installment to see what Isaac does and will dream of a collaboration between Hines and Butcher.

The story follows Isaac Vainio a member in a secret organization run by Johann Gutenberg with the ability to reach into any book and pull objects from it into the real world. The magic works through the collective belief imparted when thousands of people read the same words making an object “real”. The group’s members, called porters, exist both to research magic and help contain some of the evil that seeps into our world during the process. When the book opens Isaac is working as a librarian in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he catalogs magical artifacts for the Porters. He is stuck with this less than ideal assignment after he used too much magic as a field agent and almost went crazy.

Isaacs’s daily routine is thrown into chaos when three sparkly vampires come into his library. They claim his organization, the Porters, has declared war on the vampires and they are here to find out what he knows and kill him. Isaac manages to destroy one with a disruptor gun right out of a science fiction novel before being saved by Lena a sexy tree dryad acquaintance of his psychiatrist.

They return to Isaacs home where Lena tells Isaac the vampires attacked Dr. Shah and she needs his help. Before long(view spoiler) and they learn that Gutenberg has gone missing. They are forced to find out what happened to Gutenberg and whether he has gone rouge and declared war on the vampires or something more powerful is calling the shots. With Gutenberg missing and the porters and vampires on the brink of war it is all up to Isaac and Lena to save the day and prevent catastrophe

The plot follows a standard pattern. Isaac and Lena work together to piece together clues and figure out what happened to Gutenberg and how they can prevent the war. Throughout the story we visit a vampire liar in an old Detroit Salt mine, meet a exiled sorcerer stuck in Spain and learn a just enough about Gutenberg’s past to keep us coming back for the next books. The story is satisfying, action packed and should entertain any fans of urban fantasy looking for a good read.

I hope Jim Hines address the increasingly ubiquitous nature of ebooks in future installments. If the magic in books comes from thousands of people reading the same words does it matter if they read them on a codex or a Kindle? Also, will photocopied pages from books work for Libriomancy? It would be much easier to carry around photocopies organized by spell type than dozens of books. Finally, does a book being made into a popular movie or television show have any impact on its magic? If part of the magic relies on the variation in individual’s imagination how does thousands of people all picturing the same character or object affect the magic. This was a good introduction to the series and hopefully we aren’t kept waiting too long for the next installment.
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