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(Magic Ex Libris #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  12,049 ratings  ·  1,794 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by DAW
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Popular Answered Questions
Christine Johnson
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Dan Mackison I have no idea. Reading it, I kept asking myself why Smudge wasn't in the movie "Inkheart."

Answer: Because Inkheart is based on a book by Cornelia Fu…more
I have no idea. Reading it, I kept asking myself why Smudge wasn't in the movie "Inkheart."

Answer: Because Inkheart is based on a book by Cornelia Funke, not Libriomancer (and I liked Libriomancer better).(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love it when I pick up a book and it surprises me.

What's even better, is when I pick up a book and it's got some sort of fresh idea, something I've never read in a book before.

Even more than that, I like it when I pick up a book and it's clever through and through.

When a book does all three of these things.... well.... Then I end up telling my friends and writing gushy goodreads reviews.

Now I'm not surprised that I liked Jim's book. I've read some of his other stuff, and even got a little
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: arachnophiliacs
Recommended to carol. by: book o'month
I'm enchanted by the idea behind Libriomancer--really, what book lover wouldn't be? Mass reading/belief in a book enables specially trained book-loving readers, known as 'libromancers,' to bring parts of the book into life. Widely-read readers will be further amused by multitudes of book references, creating a little nudge-wink action.

Short summary: Isaac is in the library cataloging books when he is attacked by angry Sanguinarius Meyerii (aka 'sparklers'). They're looking for information behi
Julio Genao
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this because the author wrote this:

and because I thought I'd quite like to read a fantasy written by someone who isn't blind to white, het, male privilege.

well, i'm glad i did.

a hyper-dense, info-dumpy start turned out not to be much of an impediment to my enjoyment at all; this thing went up like a rocket, and never came back down.

great action, great nods to great books, and a heroine who isn't an emaciated underwear model.

what's not to love?

and t
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
In our crazy, ranking-obsessed world, it is sometimes hard to remember that those three stars up there are not absolute, but a loose representation or summation of many different factors, and that three stars here and three stars there does not necessarily mean that all of those factors line up. I have given books I enjoyed a lot more than this one the same ranking, and books I liked a lot less a better one. Because context matters.

And in this case, that context included, perhaps, the worst prof
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full review now posted!

Is there anything that appeals to bookworms more than an ode to books themselves?

Not in my experience. Does that mean that every book about books or libraries or bookshops is going to fulfill my expectations? Nope. Thankfully, this one didn’t disappoint.

We all know the magic that can be found between the covers of a book. But now, imagine that said magic was literal, and that you could actually reach into a book and pluck out an object if your imagination was strong enoug
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up in a book sale because it looked interesting although I had not previously heard of the author. Well I am very glad I did because it was really good. It has many similarities with the Dresden Files except this magician is a librarian and all his magic is drawn from books. That aspect of it reminded me of the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde. So this book reminds me of two of my favourite series - of course I liked it! There are lots and lots of literary references throu ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Originally posted at The BiblioSanctum.

This was a book I had high hopes for, ever since finding out what it was about. At some point in our childhoods, I'm sure all of us bibliophiles have wished that the worlds in our favorite books were real, and wondered what it would be like to interact with with its characters and objects.

This book features a magic system that plays around with the general basis of that idea. The protagonist Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of a secret organization
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Taking place in Michigan, Libriomancer posits a new form of magic that appeals to bibliophiles everywhere. Founded by Guttenburg himself, the porters possess the ability to magically reach into books and retrieve items created in the story by the author. What happens when vampires go rogue and begin attacking the porters? Isaac Vainio, librarian to the porters, must find out who is behind the attacks and why they are happening to prevent a war between the porters and the vampires. He enlists the ...more
Moira Russell
I really, really wanted to like this....but....

Unfortunately the "cross between Dresden and Thursday Next" is accurate, and I....don't like either of those series. I actually had a similar reaction to reading the Next books: I thought there would be a lot more literary in-jokes, and instead it was sort of focused on geeky cleverness.
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A man walks into a fight and he is armed and dangerous. His weapons of choice are…books. SciFi and Fantasy paperbacks to be more precise, tucked away inside larger-on-the-inside pockets. His main allies are a kick-ass dryad who can shape any wooden object into a WMD and a devoted spider with…spidey senses and the ability to set things (including itself) on fire.

The man is called Isaac Vainio and he is a Libriomancer, a member of a secret organisation founded centuries ago by Gutenberg (the inven
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. Well, obviously I did, or I'd never have bought it. Jim Hines seems like a good guy, I enjoyed the Goblin books, the premise of this book is fabulous, and the opening sample on Amazon was a lot of fun. But I ended up having two main problems: firstly the characters are a bit shallow, I never had a real sense of who the characters were, what they wanted from life, a feeling that they existed outside of the plot of this novel. This is kind of ironic since this bo ...more
Brandon Zarzyczny
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I went into this book not expecting too much, when I read the blurb it just sounded really goofy, but since my library had it and I'd read some good reviews I decided to try. It turns out I was pleasantly surprised, as I actually really enjoyed the book. It's definitely very pulpy, but Libromancer is really a love-letter to Science Fiction and Fantasy books, or just books in general. The world in this book is of the normal Urban Fantasy style, it's our world, but with a magical world going on be ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
3.5 stars rounded down because I think the ending was a cop-out.

This was an interesting and unique premise which was very welcome. I liked the characters, I liked that although the main character Isaac was sort of on the outs with his agency it wasn't because he had a big mouth or was an asshole. I thought Lena was an interesting character but she was set up in such a way that she will never be free of her burdens which prevent her from being truly real.

Some good things:
Lena is the very beauti
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

All kids long for special powers like the ability to fly, become invisible, or read minds. And while I dabbled with dreams of soaring into the sky, it’s the ability so lovingly described in Jim C. Hines’ LIBRIOMANCER that stayed foremost in my mind even into adulthood. Libriomancy is the unbelievably cool ability to reach into books and pull out objects. Hines treats this idea of libriomancy with as much realism as possible. For example, it would make s
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Libriomancer is the first book of the Magic ex Libris series by American author, Jim C. Hines. Isaac Vainio works in a small-town library, spending the day cataloguing books. But Isaac is no ordinary librarian: while he may be forbidden to use magic, he is a Libriomancer, a Porter and member of Die Zwelf Portenaere, founded by none other than Johannes Gutenberg.

A few remnants of his time as an active Libriomancer remain: a rather special black 1973 Triumph convertible, and a fire-spider named S
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, fantasy fans, genre fans
Abook for those who love books from any angle!

Highly recommended to fantasy fans and those who just love a fun yarn (with more teeth behind the ideas than you expect).

This book is so much fun that I don't want to say much in this review to spoil the ride for anyone. Let's just say that by page 80 or so, I was hooked.

Also, the idea of a dryad in the passenger seat (and a vampire in the trunk) of a magicked-up sports car with the title character conjured up Kurt Russell's monologues from Big Trou
Christine PNW
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was completely delightful! A love letter to books and the magic contained within their pages.
Mike (the Paladin)
Interesting book...I know I say that a lot. The thing is that here we have an excellent idea, a bit of mediocre execution some iffy characters and a decent version of a familiar plot (view spoiler).

I kind of liked much of this book. I think the magic system would fire anyone who's been a li
How could I resist Isaac Vainio, the main character of Libriomancer? Not only does he work in a library, but he is a cataloguer like myself, although my job has not yet required me to fight off vampires nor take on the care and feeding of a fire-spider. Isaac has been banished to “just” library work, after having a bit of a “magical incident” and is trying to earn his way back into the action.

Nor is Isaac the only character to enjoy. There are some great secondary characters who also have intere
Sandra (LadyGrey Reads)
2015 Book Awards: Hero of the Year Runner-Up
Awarded to Isaac Vaino
(information about this award is available on my profile)

I need more books about geeky heroes!

This story centers around Isaac, a librarian who has the power to pull things out of books. Yes, it's a bit like Inkheart but the rules of what can be pulled and the consequences are different in this story. Anyway; Isaac is a part of a magic organisation run by the real Johannes Gutenberg, though for the past two years Isaac has been sus
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-urban
I've said it once, I'll say it again. Jim C. Hines is America's answer to Terry Pratchett.

I love the world in this book. It's a world any biblophile will recognize and long to inhabit. In this world, you can take things, like say a lightsabre, from books. It's Thursday Next in reverse. Hines has taken what all readers wish and turned it into a good adventure story.

Our hero Issac thought he was retired, but then some sparkily vampires show up. And as we all know, a sparkily vampire is not a good
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybooks
Issac Vainio is not your average Librarian. He has a Spider that can set fire to stuff as a pet named Smudge and he is a wizard that can pull objects out of books and bring them to life called a Libriomancer. When vampires attack him at his library, it is up to him, Smudge, and his friend a tree nymph named Lena Greenwood to find out why the vampires are attacking all the Libriomancers and find out what dark force is behind it all before he loses his sanity altogether. Will he succeed? Definitel ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy

This is a fun book based on a novel system of magic. Isaac Vanio is a libriomancer, which means he can reach into books and extract magic items to use in the real world. This is extremely useful when you are fighting vampires and need a magic weapon or are injured and need a magic potion. Isaac specialises in books from Fantasy and SciFi genres and knows his books well. Libriomancy was founded by Gutenberg at the same time that he invented the printing press and by way of making himself immortal
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook
DNF at 60%.

I'm sorry to say a book I've been really been looking forward to ended up being rather disappointing.

This started quite OK, with a very interesting premise and a promising storyline but somewhere on the way I completely lost interest in the story, so much so I can't tell you what happened in the last half hour! Yes, I'm listening to this and the narration is decent but even it couldn't save the story for me.

I might give it another chance in the future but for now I'm quits.
I actually finished this a little while ago but I'm slacking on reviews. I started the next book immediately after though so that should tell you something.

One of the most clever ideas for a series I've read in a long time.

Review to come.
Executive Summary: A book whose main strength is the interesting magic system, and not the characters or story.

Audio book: Brian Eslik is a good, but not great reader. It's been several audio books now, but my recollection was he didn't really add or detract from the book at all. I think this is one of those books that choosing between reading or listening is more a matter of which works best for you rather more than anything else.

Full Review
I feel kind of bad. I had been looking forward to
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of urban fantasy
Shelves: urban-fantasy
A very enjoyable modern urban fantasy with an interesting magic system, where modern day wizards, called libriomancers, can pull fantastical implements out of fictional books, which then work in the real world -- a system that reminded me a bit of the one from Geekomancy due to the protagonist Isaac's penchant for using sci-fi and fantasy books. My only minor complaint is the love story/triangle between Isaac, Lena, and her former lover, which felt included because it is an obligatory trope in t ...more
3.5 stars. Good contemporary fantasy about a wizard whose power is being able to make things from books real. Due to a magical mishap, he's been relegated to working as a librarian in the UP (Michigan's Upper Peninsula) and not using magic... until the shit hits the fan, of course. ...more
This was my first foray into the work of Jim C. Hines, but come to find out, after poking around the internet this past week, the guy is pretty awesome. I'll admit to being completely ignorant that there was such a Hugo award as "best fan writer" until Hines won it this year - apparently it's for writers of works related to science fiction or fantasy which appear in low- or non-paying publications, such as semiprozines or fanzines (taken from Wikipedia). Now what's a semiprozine, you ask? Good q ...more
Ranting Dragon
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: janea

I first heard about Libriomancer a few years ago while attending a panel that included Jim C. Hines at a convention, and I fell in love with the idea of it. As time passed and the book came closer to completion, every time I heard more about it, I wanted it more. It’s an urban fantasy with comic elements from a writer already known for doing excellent comic fantasy (such as Jig the Goblin series and the Princess series).

Isaac Vainio is a small town librari
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Jim C. Hines is the author of the Magic ex Libris series, the Princess series of fairy tale retellings, the humorous Goblin Quest trilogy, and the Fable Legends tie-in Blood of Heroes. His latest novel is Terminal Uprising, book two in the humorous science fiction Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse trilogy. He’s an active blogger, and won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Jim lives in Michigan ...more

Other books in the series

Magic Ex Libris (4 books)
  • Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris, #2)
  • Unbound (Magic Ex Libris, #3)
  • Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris, #4)

Articles featuring this book

Where do you go for fantastical, must-read book recommendations? This summer we're turning to the experts of illusion,...
140 likes · 36 comments
“...bookstores, libraries... they're the closest thing I have to a church.” 66 likes
“This presents a serious question." They both looked at me. "What's that?" asked Lena. "Whether to start you off with a Doctor Who marathon or dive straight into Firefly.” 19 likes
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