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by Jim C. Hines

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Magic Ex Libris (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,41610412,529 (3.72)114
Gifted with the ability to draw objects out of books, Isacc Vainio, a Libriomancer, seeks assistance from a Harley-riding dryad after a number of vampire attacks are reported by other members of his secret, magic organization.
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    kqueue: I found many similarities between Isaac Vainio and Harry Dresden. Both are cynical, powerful, heroes with a dark sense of humor, who are on the fringes of their official organization but are called in to save the day. Both books feature many mythical creatures, and have a good versus evil theme in a fast-paced adventure.… (more)
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    Dragget: Both of these feature books as a source of magic, though in unique ways.

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» See also 114 mentions

English (101)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
3.5 ( )
  mmcrawford | Dec 5, 2023 |
3.75 stars

Isaac is a librarian (a cataloguer), and is horrified when a few vampires come into his library and destroy it (and try to destroy him)! Isaac was also once a libriomancer and a Porter. He was banned from using magic a couple of years back, though, by the secret society of Porters. As a libriomancer, he is able to reach into books and pull things out to use in this world.

It seems that vampires have been hunting down Porters and are trying to start a war (or something) with them. But who is controlling them and why is this happening? Can Isaac help find out what’s going on (with the help of Lena, who herself has come out of a book)?

I enjoyed this. I’m not always a fantasy fan, but as a librarian (and cataloguer), I quite enjoyed that part of the book, and the fact that Isaac (and other libriomancers) was/are able to pull things out of books. That’s pretty cool. I really liked Isaac’s pet fire spider (pulled from a book, of course). I was also a bit amused by the bibliography at the end, which included made up titles in the book. I’d have given it 3.5 stars (good), but wanted to give the extra ¼ star for the librarian who loves to research! ( )
  LibraryCin | Nov 14, 2023 |
I am torn about this one.

The author is obviously very aware of a lot of the typical UF and sci-fi clichées and goes out of his way to dodge or subvert many of them, but the entire book falls victim to ridiculous plot conveniences anyway.
Power levels are completely arbitrary and are entirely defined by the author's needs. Not only that but they are being adjusted constantly by large margins, creating obvious plot holes and contradictions.
I think the biggest problem of the entire book is that the premise is just too powerful. The author imposes various limitations on Libriomancy but even with this severely limited potential it still is far too powerful to work within this plotline. The only solution the author has found to further restrict the magic is stupidity.
It's frustrating to see how little the MC utilizes the huge range of options he has, even while staying well within all these imposed limitations. Especially because the tools he chooses are just enough to keep him alive but never enough to end a confrontation in his favor. This character is supposed to have experience with this talent for half his life. I am familiar with this concept for about 4 hours now and am already able to apply it more effectively. Granted, I have read a lot of fantasy but so has the MC. This makes it very hard to take his increasingly deteriorating situation seriously. I can't stop being angry at the MC and mentally shouting "this is your own damn fault!"
I dropped the book at 50% almost exactly.

The other big problem I had was the narrow-mindedness and stubbornness of other characters that were ambiguous in their alliances. Their behavior was entirely determined by plot needs which made them feel two-dimensional and unbelievable.

I enjoyed the romance and sexual tension between the MC and the dryad as well as the... love triangle? It's not really that, don't worry, but I can't think of a better description. It's more a kind of difficult supernatural problem than a traditional love triangle.
I liked a lot of the ideas of how these various magic systems from all these books merge together into a kind of meta-magic system and I was very intrigued by the concept of different kinds of vampires for example. It's really obvious in retrospect. I mean... depending on the lore there might be just one species of vampire possible but there really is no reason in 99% of vampire UF to just have one kind.
Sometimes there is a good and an evil kind but usually, they are just different families or religions or corrupted by their magic something of that sort.
While I wasn't super happy with the depth of the discussion, I liked that the book questioned the morality of exploiting the involuntary nature of magical creatures. He didn't just take it at face value and ran with it which is another reason I generally liked the MC.

Basically, the world-building and the character work were great but the blatant plot steering ruined my enjoyment because it caused inconsistencies and plot holes.

I really wanted to like this book and there are many aspects that deserve praise, but the flaws I pointed out above just frustrate me too much regardless of how good the rest is. ( )
  omission | Oct 19, 2023 |
This was a great read. Along the way I discovered I read this book before. How could I have forgotten this? Great characters, great world and excellent magic system. I especially loved the love of books this story shows. I NEED to read the rest of the series. ( )
  weaver-of-dreams | Aug 1, 2023 |
Isaac Vainio is a libriomancer-- a person who can extract power from texts and make manifest items that are described within. Currently exiled to a small library in Michigan as a cataloguer, Isaac's rather mundane routine is interrupted when vampires, in full fury, raid his library on a mission find out who has been targeting their community.... Secret societies, automatons, a dryad and, Johannes Gutenburg himself make their appearances as Isaac strives to unravel this urban paranormal mystery. However interesting the story and magic are and, however fun and intriguing the world-building, the characters themselves nonetheless seem rather boring and lacking in dimension outside of their respective powers. This first-in-series suffers in comparison to The Dresden Files (by[Jim Butcher) and in the end, while not bad, not that great either. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Jul 3, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hines, Jim C.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franken, AxelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leigh, DeniseCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mollica, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Carl and Joan
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Some people would say it's a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library.
I cleared the screen. I couldn't count the number of times I had helped patrons track down ancestors on genealogy sites or locate long-lost classmates, and I had found books with far less information than a character's name. I was a pretty good libriomancer, but I was a damn good librarian.
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Gifted with the ability to draw objects out of books, Isacc Vainio, a Libriomancer, seeks assistance from a Harley-riding dryad after a number of vampire attacks are reported by other members of his secret, magic organization.

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Jim C. Hines is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Average: (3.72)
1 5
1.5 3
2 23
2.5 8
3 113
3.5 28
4 176
4.5 13
5 76


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