Libriomancer: (Magic Ex Libris Book 1)

Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines

Magic allows certain people to pull objects out of books, shaped by the love of readers and the power of the Libriomancer. Isaac’s job though is not to go off fighting monsters anymore, because with magic such as this, there needs to be someone to catalogue books based on which items may be useful to field agents, and Isaac is just the man for the job. At least he was, until some vampires tried to kill him and burn down his library…. That’s just rude.

I make no secret of the fact that Jim C. Hines is one of my favorite authors, and obviously with a premise of magic based on books, Libriomancer was a must read! I mean, seriously, that is every fantasy reader’s dream right?? I was horrified, then, when the library didn’t have a copy and I couldn’t seem to get one through the inter-library loan system. However, the library was quite willing to rectify their error by purchasing a copy and giving me first dibs :D. It’s a win-win really, since now all the other library patrons will realize what they had been missing ;-). Also I have to point out that I was reading this one in a car with the radio blaring (yes honey, it was blaring, don’t deny it), so I might not have been able to pay as much attention as I would have liked. I might need to go reread Libriomancer in the future to make sure I gave it a fair shake.

 Goodreads Amazon
Author: Jim C. Hines
Pages: 305 (hardcover)
Genre-ish: Urban fantasy (with all the goodies!)
Rating★★★ fun plot, more character please!

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. . . . – Goodreads


  • The magic system. It was awesome, and more importantly, it had very well thought out limits! Libriomancer was not overrun with The One Ring and dragons and such craziness, because a magic-user needs to be able to take the item out of a book, and big things won’t fit. Also, books can be locked, such as The Lord of the Rings, so that really bad small things can’t be taken out either ;-).
  • Lena :D. Lena is a nymph and therefore is quite strong and skilled with using bokken (wooden swords) and is also just such a great character. I love that she is a bit overweight, but still considered beautiful, because go figure, those two things are not in fact mutually exclusive!
  • The plot development and world-building were pretty rad. The things we found out about the magic and how much deeper it goes than what Isaac initially was told was both intense, morally questionable, and therefore delicious. Libriomancer set this series up for some very interesting questions!
  • The romance conclusion is awesome and I totally approve ;-).


  • Isaac :(. I had a hard time remembering his name strangely enough, partially because Libriomancer was written in first-person, but mostly because Isaac just didn’t form into a complete character for some reason. He just never solidified in my mind as a real person that I could attach a name and personality to, which was disorienting and disappointing.
  • This is less a weakness and more just something I learned about my own reading tastes. I am familiar with the setting of Libriomancer, and this took away from the fantasy element of the story for me unfortunately. I know urban fantasy is supposed to be fantasy in the real world, but it was just too close to home this time, when I actually knew parking structure they were driving in and the library that burnt down ;-). You probably won’t have this problem with Libriomancer, though I’m interested to know if you’ve run into something similar with books set somewhere you know. Or does that make you like them more?


Libriomancer has an awesome premise that is really every fantasy reader’s dream. Hines delivers on that premise with a well-developed magic system with limits and deeper lessons to be learned. While some of the characters blasted off the page with their (her ;-)) awesomeness, the main character (Isaac) just didn’t come together for me. This series has a lot of potential and Libriomancer makes it clear that Isaac and Lena have a lot left to figure out. I’m very much looking forward to Codex Born which is (hopefully) coming out this year or next :D.