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If only real libraries worked this way…


Libriomancy is using books to create/control magic. This is the concept behind the “Magic Ex Libris” Series by Jim C. Hines. “Unbound” is the third book of this series bringing its story arc to a conclusion.

If you have not read the rest of the series you may want to though it is not necessary to enjoy the book. I was able to quickly pick up the plot and follow the story.

Isaac Vainio is a researcher with a secret organization of Libriomancers headed by Johannes Gutenberg (yes, that Johannes Gutenberg) called the Porters. At the beginning of this book, Isaac has allowed the Students of Bi Sheng, a rival group of Libriomancers from China, to escape. His home town of Copper River in Upper Peninsula Michigan has been attacked by a Ghost Army which has kidnapped, Jeneta Aboderin, a teenager who is the only Libriomancer that has the ability to use eBooks instead of paper to conduct magic. Isaac was supposed to be protecting, training, and studying her. As a result of this failure, and to stop the person controlling the attacking Ghost Army from controlling him, Isaac had his magic cut off by Gutenberg (who is a bit of a jerk).

This was a fun read. I found the characters to be believable and interesting. The concept of Libriomancy was well thought out with the implications thought through. I understood why things were happening and why people were reacting the way they were. I especially liked the snippets at the end of chapters showing how the world was reacting to the sudden emerging idea of magic. The news article talking about the positions the NRA and ACLU were taking on the issue (they’re on the same side though for different reasons) was pretty cool. Using AD&D books and “The Guinness Book of World Records” to cast magic. Even cooler.

A couple of minor quibbles: Lena and Nidhi kept telling Isaac to let the Porters handle the Ghost Army and that he didn’t need to feel guilty about Jeneta’s kidnapping. Isaac may have felt guilty but I always felt he was motivated by the belief the Porters were not handling the Ghost Army threat well and they might kill Jeneta rather than rescue her (Gutenberg has been making hard life and death decisions for 400+ years. There is a reason he’s a jerk.) Nidhi was also a bit too unflappable and needed to take that Therapist hat off every once in a while. I can imagine her trying to hold a therapy session with the main antagonist: “You understand some people may not want you to take over the world. That doesn’t make them bad people…”

I had fun reading this book. I’m probably going to read the rest of the series eventually. A good, urban fantasy read.


About James Schardt

A retired Army Aviation Mechanic and former Non-Destructive Testing Technician, James Schardt is currently a college student studying Mechanical Engineering. He has been known to contribute book reviews and articles to the Otherwhere Gazette.

One comment on “If only real libraries worked this way…

  1. Odd. I came at this book having just re-read the previous two. I enjoyed it quite a bit but it did not occur to me that the story could be followed without having read its predecessors. Well done, Mr. Hines.


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