Friday, January 9, 2015


Unbound (Magic Ex Libris #3)Unbound by Jim C. Hines
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars

This is the third book in the Magic Ex Libris series. I'm guessing there will be more, but this one wraps up the main story arc started in Libriomancer and continued in Codex Born. The basic tenet of the series is that magic is real, and it is expressed in Libriomancy - the extraction of objects from books via magic, a ray-gun, for example. Johannes Gutenberg was the first known practitioner of Libriomancy, and he started a secret organization called the Twelve Porters to manage the magic of books, and keeping the existence of magic a secret from the rest of the world.

The main character in the series is Isaac Vainio, who is employed by the Porters. He used to be a field agent, but was too reckless, and at the start of book one he is only a researcher, though he can still practice Libriomancy. By the end of the second book, a magical war has broken out among the Porters, the followers of Bi Shen (a Chinese version of Libriomancers) and a mysterious dark force. During the final battle of book two, Isaac is stripped of his magic, and his recent memory, to prevent the dark force from using him. His protege, a teen named Jeneta, has been possessed by the dark force and is missing.

So book three deals with the search for Jeneta, and for the identity of who it is that has possessed her, and how to combat this entity. Isaac is helped by his dryad lover and her other lover (don't ask, it's complicated), as well as Ponce de Leon. Yes, the Spanish explorer and conquistador, who is an expert in the practice of magic. Isaac feels responsible for Jeneta's possession, and is also desperate to get his magic back. The action in this book ranges beyond the Michigan Upper Peninsula, where the story begins, including a jaunt into orbit and a rather dramatic scene in Rome. We also run across Isaac's werewolf friends, and he once again manages to piss off the vampires. All in all, this is a good ending to the trilogy, though there are huge implications for future books - magic is no longer secret, for one.

The basic concepts of Libriomancy are handled well by Hines, with inherent restrictions on what can come back through books and the 'cost' of practicing magic. This consistency helps the story move along, by not giving us a simple Deus ex Magica, as it were. The characters are also nicely rounded out, though Isaac's pig-headedness did get on my nerves just a bit. Nevertheless he is still a very likable character. But, really, this series is about BOOKS. A good libriomancer knows which books will help him/her in any situation, and we are treated to a wide range of books used (including some made up for this series). Clearly, Hines is a bibliophile, and this series is really an homage to books and their 'magic'. This series is a fine addition to the 'urban fantasy' genre, and I look forward to more books to come!

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