Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
My Rating: 3-1/2 Stars out of 5
This book was a lot of fun. So much fun that I debated giving it a full four stars, but then decided that “fun” would only carry it so far. The premise is wonderful. A certain group of magic folk, libriomancers, can reach into books and pull forth objects, hauling everything from enchanted swords to magical potions to scary creatures written about in various horror books. Consequently, some very strange things have been let loose amongst humans, and a great deal of policing has to take place to try to protect the innocent from falling victim to a plethora of big, bad uglies. Since the imaginations of writers over the centuries have spawned all sorts of supernatural beings and peculiar devices, it makes for an almost unlimited amount of trouble to be dealt with.
Our hero, Isaac Vainio (love the name) is a good-hearted, well-meaning, but somewhat unpredictable libriomancer who has gotten himself into trouble so many times, he’s been removed from active duty, and has been placed in a library, cataloging the ever-changing devices and creatures that keep popping up in new fiction. Needless to say, events transpire that send Isaac out on yet another wild adventure. Isaac is a nice enough character, but I have to say, I never felt a real connection to him, other than just that…he was nice. I actually liked his fire-spider more. More than any character in the book, in fact, and I have arachniphobia! But the fire-spider, Smudge, was a clever touch, and won me over.
What I enjoyed most about Libriomancer were all the funny literary references to things like Sanguinarious Meyerii (or Sparklers, as they are called) and their far older cousins, Sanguinarious Stokerus. Lots of fun for book lovers who recognize the various plots, devices, and characters that have been pulled forth into this world.
The female interest in the book was a dryad, who had been poorly written by some hack author in the 80’s (I believe) as a teenage boy’s fantasy woman, destined to do nothing but live for love. Not sure I connected with her at all.
What I liked the least of all was the uncomfortable ending, which I won’t give away, but which I found completely unbelievable. Talk about sounding like a teenage boy’s fantasy! Ewww.
The lack of emotional connection with any of the characters and the weird ending are what keep me from giving this 4 stars. But it was very imaginative and I will probably give the second book a chance to see if it grows into the potential I felt was there throughout. A clever, but flawed, book that could turn into a lot more, if you are willing to give it a chance, and I am. At least one more, anyway.
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