Review: “Codex Born” by Jim C. Hines

Title: Codex Born
Author: Jim C. Hines
Series: Magic Ex Libris #2
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: DAW, 2013

As you may remember, a couple months ago I finally got around to reading Libriomancer, the first book in Jim C. Hines excellent Magic Ex Libris series. Well, my inter-library loan request finally came through, and I got to read the sequel! Believe it or not, it was even better than the first one. Given that this is a sequel, the review here will almost certainly contain spoilers in some form or another for the first book, so if you haven’t read it, go fix that and then come back! Okay? Good, just so we’re clear.

Life is good for Isaac Vainio. He should have known it couldn’t last….After having the crap beat out of him and nearly dying in his efforts to head off a war, Isaac has been reinstated as a field agent and Porter researcher. Specifically, he’s tasked with searching out the origins of the Devourers, mysterious entities attempting to rip their way into this reality. Along with his side project, trying to figure out how a teenage girl is able to work magic with her e-reader, this project is put on hold when more pressing matters rear their head–someone managed to take down a Wendigo, torturing and skinning it before it was allowed to die. This incident is making a number of the other magical creatures in the area, mainly werewolves, nervous for obvious reasons. What he discovers causes him to question everything he has been told about the history of the organization he serves, and it seems that the killer has a very personal interest in Isaac–or more accurately, in Lena, his dryad girlfriend. It would also seem that the Devourers have found some new friends….

So, you know how The Dresden Files had that long run where important things happened, sure, but the status quo stayed more or less the same? And then Jim Butcher spent every book since drop-kicking the status quo all over the map? Yeah, Jim C. Hines just goes directly to the “screw-status-quo” place. Everything you think you know about where this is headed, everything Isaac thinks he knows about the world and magic, it’s all subject to change. Hines isn’t afraid to leave you scratching your head wondering what will happen next, how in the world the next book is going to shape up or what his long-term plans are, and the more Isaac learns about the history of the Porters and Gutenberg, the less he’s convinced that theirs is the side of the angels. I really like Isaac’s character…he’s as big a geek as I am, and that’s saying something! Anyone who read the previous installment and were fascinated with Lena’s character gets a special treat in this one, since every chapter is prefaced with a snippet of Lena telling her story. I very much look forward to continuing this series….

CONTENT: Brief strong language, somewhat more plentiful milder profanity. A fair amount of sexual content, sometimes fairly explicit, mostly tied up with exploring Lena’s character and the implications of her fictional properties. Quite a bit of violence, including some torture. There’s magic, but I wouldn’t qualify it as occult content. Very much fantasy-based.

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