Librarians Unite

I had a chance to look around a book store a while back (before seeing Raiders, now that I think about it), and did some browsing there. I eventually picked up a new one called Libriomancer, by Jim Hines (of whome I'd never heard). The title caught my eye, especially when, browsing the flap, it seemed a well-chosen one.

I got around to reading it a couple of weeks ago, and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was compared to Butcher's Dresden books, not completely unjustly, but this is not as good as those. This one I was able to put down.

But it had a very interesting magic system (actually, one fairly fully fleshed out with references to at least one other) based on using books. The idea is that a book made popular enough reaches into the Jungian subconscious, and gets some influence over reality. The main character, Isaac Vainio, is a librarian in Michigan's Upper Peninsula who is an outcast in the magic-using society (oddly named in a mix of middle high german and latin). Being a librarian gives him lots of volumes out of which to pull his power, but he's currently forbidden except in cases of self-defense.

And the book starts, of course, when that self-defense becomes necessary.  Insert obligatory twilight reference here, if you want (incidentally, I was quite surprised and mildly horrified when, that same night, I saw that the store had an entire section on 'Teen Paranormal Romance'.  Hopefully, Fifty Shades of Gray wasn't in it; I hadn't heard of the book at the time, so I didn't check).

The outcast part is the strongest parallel to the Dresden books, in fact, except that there is a much better reason for Isaac to be so than was the case for Dresden.

What was good about it? Well, the magic was very cleverly done, and well used. The characters are believable and enjoyable, and the threats are very interesting. I really liked how many different styles of vampires there are, and how that was explained. And Isaac managed some pretty cool stuff over the course of the book (particularly towards the end). Oh, and there were lots of literary references, especially to sci-fi and fantasy novels (some of which, admittedly, went over my head, but others were very well done).

The only part I didn't like was that the main thrust of what the bad guy did didn't seem possible, given the explanations given. In particular, it was explained that the power came about by being widespread. But the bad guy's book somehow managed to be sufficiently wide-spread to give him power while being unknown to librarians. That doesn't seem possible, and was given no more than a hand-waving explanation.

But that was a very minor point.

I am curious to know how far in advance Hines has the books plotted out. In some axes, he got a lot further than I would have thought reasonable for one book. But the main enemy is only introduced to the point of showing that they exist. So that part's intriguing.

Anyway, I'm very curious to see where it goes, and looking forward to the next volume.

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