Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris series) by Jim Hines

Just as Spaceballs totally has fun with Star Wars, Libriomancer does the same for librarians, science fiction, fantasy, and pop culture.

Librarians get an upgrade (and update) in image from the glasses-wearing, hair bun-adorned, shushing librarian stereotype. In this new fantasy series, book lovers have the ability to reach into books and bring objects to life, and they have formed their own book club--- a secret organization led by an immortal Gutenberg to protect the world from supernatural beings and magical threats.

Isaac Vanio is a disgraced libriomancer working in a small library. Isaac finds himself back in action when fellow libriomancers are murdered, Gutenberg goes missing, the organization is compromised, and there is threat of a vampire war. Joining him is Lena Greenwood, a hot, butt-kicking dryad who provides the muscle, some mystery, and maybe more, and there is his pet fire spider, Smudge, who serves as a danger detector and has quite the personality (for a non-speaking character).

This series pays homage to book lovers, especially fantasy and sci-fi fans, who love reading and the worlds contained within those books and who likely wished those worlds were real. They will enjoy the many references, from classics like Star Wars, Dune, Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, Dracula, Dr. Who (TARDIS!) to newer ones, like Harry Potter, Firefly, and the recent vampire craze (courtesy of Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, and Stephenie Meyer). Smudge comes from Hines’ own Goblin trilogy.

Readers can enjoy a fun adventure with cool magic tricks but really sink their teeth into the entertaining premise and a solid story that does not shy away from difficult questions and issues, going beyond a simple good-versus-evil battle to the murkier and more human error-prone consequences of trying to do the right thing and serve the greater good. Libriomancy has its rules and secret organization, but it remains an imperfect system with its flaws leaving room for problems to arise. Even the relationships refreshingly stray from the straight-and-narrow into the “it’s complicated” realm, and they work, not because they are there for shock value but because the characters are human at heart.

Look for Libriomancer on the VBPL Catalog. The sequel, Codex Born, comes out summer 2013. For more Smudge, read Hines’ Goblin trilogy. For interesting twists to fairy tales and princesses, try Hines’ Princess novels, starting with The Stepsister Scheme (see review). Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next literary mystery series is a treat for book lovers (see review). For more libraries in fantasy settings, try Liz Williams’ Worldsoul, Mel Odom’s Rover series, and Pearl North’s Libyrinth trilogy.

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Fun book, it reminded me of the Harry Dresden series, but with librarians.