Book Review: ‘Magic Ex Libris: Codex Born’ by Jim C. Hines

Posted: 25 April 2017 in Book reviews
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In the second book of the series, life for Issac has returned to a relative state of calm. It has been months since the events that almost destroyed him. His relationship with Lena is beautiful, and he is even coming to terms with her dual relationship with his ex-therapist and friend Nidhi Shah. But nothing in his life is ever meant to remain calm. The three are called to the werewolf town of Tamarack, Michigan to investigate the brutal murder of a Wendigo. This murder is anything than ordinary. What they uncover only leads to more questions and no answers. Not until Lena’s tree gets attacked.

What they find are tiny metal bugs with the ability to pierce even the strongest armor. Following the clues, they are lead to the revenge-driven father of dead libriomancer Victor Harrison. What they didn’t expect was him to team up with members of a group Gutenberg had attempted to annihilate centuries ago. Rather than die, they had survived and become stronger than any of the libriomancers, maybe even Gutenberg himself. And non-magical August Harrison is attempting to control them. His success hinges on two things: Lena, and understanding information he stole from Issac and the porters.

When August loses control of certain members of his group, it results in the unfolding of events than Issac and the porters couldn’t have imagined. For what August doesn’t know is that he is awakening a power much greater than the porters or the group he is trying to restore. It has already showed it’s power when it nearly destroyed Issac and is slowly infecting objects and people. As his world is torn apart around him, will Issac be able to stop August, or will the world as they know it finally end?

My Thoughts

I don’t know what it is about this book, but the cover put me off reading it for so long. And I mean a long time. I wrote about book 1 over a year and a half ago. One thing is that the cover looks too cheesy. The smirk on Lena’s face, the model pose, the weird holding of her weapon, and the way she is partially not there (clearly meant to show her being part of her tree). It just put me off, until I now forced myself to read it.

Cover aside, the book was pretty good. Not amazing, but enjoyable. It definitely got better as the book went on. I was worried that with the 3-way relationship that it’d turn into one big soap opera, but thankfully it didn’t. It was pretty balanced and in an odd way seemed healthy. Really weird, but it worked for them. One thing I liked was the magical bugs. They were really cool. I liked the new magical group as well. There back story was really interesting. Also kind of an interesting commentary on how people will attempt to destroy those who do not agree with or follow them.

There are only a couple of new notable characters here. Nidhi plays a bigger role this time. She seems to be quite sensible whereas Issac and Lena are both quite reckless.  She’s basically an anchor. She and Issac have quite the odd relationship, but they deal with it due to both loving Lena. On the other hand, August is the bad guy and he really is awful. He is abusive on many levels stemming from his desire to control everything and everyone around him. If he senses any weakness in you he exploits it. That fact that Victor thought of his father in his final moments shows how deep abuse can affect people. He is a truly disgusting character.

The writing was pretty much like the first one. It was easy to read and flowed well. I don’t know what it is, but something about the writing felt off. I can’t tell if it’s just me or what. Despite this, it has filled with creativity. So many fascinating items pulled from books. Like using the Beast’s magical library to find books was especially clever. I really liked the amount of research that obviously went into it. Something I have noticed with this series is that the beginning is usually pretty meh, but then when you get to the end you can’t wait to pick up the next one. Such is the case here.

It didn’t start out well, but it definitely ended with a bang. I’m very intrigued to see where the story goes from here. Enjoy 😉

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