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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris Book 2)
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 17 November 2014
Bands are famed for having that tricky second album syndrome, but the same can be said for authors when writing the second book in a series. Jim C Hines’ ‘Libriomancer’ was the first in a series that blasted onto the scene with an infectious enthusiasm that allowed you to forgive its one or two minor flaws. Could the follow up continue the momentum, or will it stagnate?

The world of the Libriomancer is a rich and evocative one, especially for anybody who has a love of reading. The lead, Isaac Vainio, is not only a Librarian, but is also part of a magical force that uses their power to pull objects out of novels – that sounds amazing! It also sounds a little confusing, as was the case towards the end of book 1. ‘Codex Born’ starts soon after this and hits the ground running; action to the left of you and a little confusion to the right.

Whilst ‘Libriomancer’ introduced magical books and the variations of vampires that have appeared over the years, ‘Codex’ introduces further layers. Add werewolves to the undead horde and then a rogue magician who has got their hands on a powerful army of robotic insects. Isaac must find a way of bringing peace between the races and taking out the bad egg. There does not appear to be much time to get on with a real life.

This is the one single elements of ‘Codex’ that makes it harder to read than it should be. At no point does Hines give the reader a breather; those moments of calm that allow the characters and the reader the time to reflect on what is happening. ‘Codex’ is a rollercoaster of a book, but at times it threatens to come off the rails with the sheer amount of new ideas that are thrown onto the page. In the two books that make up the series so far, enough has happened that could have stretched over five.

I for one cannot feel too badly about a book that’s only real sin is being enthusiastic and wanting to entertain. This is surely what ‘Codex’ does. Any fan of urban fantasy will immediately feel in capable hands as Hines takes you on an adventure packed to the gills. The use of magic from books still works brilliantly and the mechanics behind the magic is further explored. It is touches like this that make a fantasy fan come back for more. How powerful is the magic within a book? Do the more readers make the more power?

As well as having a strong universe, ‘Codex’ also has great characters. Isaac is a good lead; although I did find him jumping from making mature to immature decisions a little too often. He is surrounded by other Libriomancers and magical people that flesh out the universe. The action in this sequel is actually better than that seen in the first. The tone is slightly darker and the stakes feel much higher. The tension builds as the book moves towards an electric conclusion.

Fans of urban fantasy will get a lot out of ‘Codex Born’, it feels immediately recognisable, but has its own unique ideas. People new to the genre may find the pace a little off putting; Hines has sacrificed some of the character development in favour of all out action. However, as someone who likes their novels frothy, funny and action packed this is just my cup of tea – in fact I may reach into a copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and get myself a cuppa! Original review on bookbag.co.uk
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 August 2014
One of my surprise best reads of the year is Libriomancer  by Jim C Hines. A book with such a beguiling premise that it demanded to be read. The idea that there is a coven of magicians who can pull all manner of stuff out from between the covers of a book propelled Libriomancer to the top of my to-be-read pile. Beneath the pulpy cover, vampires and lusty dryads was an intricately conceived and well executed urban fantasy that had considerable depth. It is pretty much a must read for anybody who loves the genre. Libriomancer didn't just lazily reference its influences, it embedded them in the story and enhanced their myths.

So how do you follow that? Well it's pretty tricky. Libriomancer is stuffed full of innovation, but the mechanics of libriomancy are now pretty much established, and surely all the best fictional references were in the first novel? What would a second book have to offer? The answer is, 'Pretty much the same as the first'. This story doesn't offer much on top of Libriomancer in terms of fresh concepts, so it doesn't have the wow-factor of book 1. Indeed some of the embellishments don't quite work. It's a common problem in this type of storytelling. In order to make an original premise more convincing, there are often constraints put in place. When an author finds that it's not just his characters bound by the constraints, but subsequent stories too, they bend the rules to allow more interesting things to happen. Invariably they don't quite work. Having said that, whilst a couple of Isaac Vanio's new skills jarred, they certainly didn't spoil the party.

Codex Born has story and character a plenty. There is an irreverent vein of humour running through it, and there is still a reverence retained for books and storytelling. Here vampires are replaced by werewolves (which makes you wonder if zombies are next). I've never been a huge fan of lycanthrope stories, so some of the references were lost on me. The central plot once again revolves around dryad Lena Greenwood and her being a living thing that was once fictional.

As in the first book there are thrills, spills and literary shenanigans. Whilst Codex Born doesn't elevate the series, it certainly does it no detriment. It's another entertaining novel written in the same vein as the first; magical high jinx for library lovers. I look forward to volume three.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 April 2016
Codex Born is the second book of the Magic ex Libris series by American author, Jim C. Hines. Some months after receiving official permission, Isaac Vainio is enjoying his role as a magic researcher and investigating the intriguing possibility of Libriomancing from ebooks with a young student, Jeneta Aboderin. When he gets a call about a mutilated wendigo, he heads out to investigate this baffling murder. Magic allows him to return to the moment of the killing, and it looks like a rogue Libriomancer may be involved.

But Isaac and his dryad lover, Lena Greenwood, have more problems to deal with at home: something is attacking Lena’s oak tree, and all their skill and intellect are needed to overcome this threat. The source of the problem proves to be a surprise, and soon they begin to realise just how far-reaching the menace could be.

This is another fast-paced adventure that will delight fans. As well as a highly original plot with plenty of twists, Isaac’s arsenal of books and their potential weapons are a tribute to the fantasy genre. Hines gives the reader some interesting concepts: use of a chronoscope as a time viewer, a sort of reverse Midas touch effect that corrodes metals, some very different computer bugs, paper cuts of a rather dangerous kind, glasses of the babel fish variety, love potion as a weapon and the idea that reading a book in the middle of a battle could be just the right thing to do.

Each chapter is prefaced by a narrative that describes events in Lena’s life since the moment of her “birth”, thus developing her character in tandem with Isaac’s description of their current adventure. Readers who enjoy this instalment will be eager to dive into the next book of this brilliant series, Unbound.
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on 25 December 2014
Isaac Vainio has been restored to the secret society of Porters, a libriomancer who can use his magic to pull artefacts from books. He is also working out his new relationship with the Dryad Lena, and Dr Shah. Things are going well for him, until a wendigo is killed.

Each chapter start off with a little first person slice of Lena’s history, before leaping into the main tale of mayhem, magic, books, and devourers. As usual, half the fun is recognising the many books Isaac uses as source material to fight off the bad guys (some of whom we realise may not actually be the bad guys, as we discover more of Gutenberg’s backstory). Again, some of the books mentioned are fictitious: I want to read Nymphs of Neptune just for its sheer awfulness! Lena’s plight as a character spawned from that book is well drawn, and although at the start she says Isaac has offered her hope, she is still bound to her tree and her nature at the end.
Although there is a resolution to the main part of the plot here, the world has been changed, and there is clearly a bigger battle yet to be fought.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2014
The second outing for Isaac and for me, the tale gets so much more interesting as the principles have been already established and we can get more to the character interactions alongside the development of the overall arc for the series. Whilst not as fast paced as the original and at times feeling not as fresh, I did love the way that Jim kept it going without it feeling like it was just filler.

As with the original I liked the pace and the saving grace was the dialogue. All round a solid read.
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on 17 January 2014
I don't want to get into any spoilers, but the cliff hanger ending of this book near had me yelling at the laptop screen at 2am as I tried to find out about part three of the series. Book 2 builds on the premises set down in book 1, as well as giving more back story to Lena. It's not a book I'd recommend to younger readers, given the more adult nature of some scenes, but the two books so far are very much worth a read.
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on 26 August 2016
Have you ever wished you could reach into your favourite books, pull out a ST phaser, a 'variable' sword, even Excalibur ?

Mind you, if readers accidentally retrieve an elf, vampire or were-wolf, they may create a generational problem...

Book 2 of 3, more to come...
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on 23 March 2014
I have read both books by Mr Hines in this series and I hope he continues writing more in this series.
I like the unique take on how magic works in these books and it seems to be logical, (if that is an appropriate word to use about magic) and consistent. A good read.
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on 1 April 2016
Part two of the series is just as good as the first. Great new characters including werewolves and wendigos. There's a giant mechanical dragon, too! (That's where I'm up to at the moment.)
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