Book Review: ‘Magic ex Libris: Unbound’ by Jim C. Hines

Posted: 10 August 2017 in Book reviews
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The existence of magic is revealed thanks to Bi Wei. Isaac may have cared before, but Gutenberg locked his magic and kicked him out of the Porters. Now he only cares about two things: getting his magic back, and finding Jeneta (a girl entrusted to him to look after in Book 2). Neither of these is going to be easy, but Isaac doesn’t care.

Priority #1 is Jeneta, who is currently possessed by a woman who’s soul has been held captive for over a thousand years. And all Isaac knows about her is her name: Meridiana. This name leads Isaac to Pope Sylvester II. He can’t find a link between the two so he decides to talk to the dead Pope. He steals a sample of blood from the vampires and learns exactly who Meridiana is and what she wants. She wants to be free. And she will destroy everything and everyone in her path to do so. And Isaac knows how to find her prison.

This knowledge lands him, along with Lena and Nidhi, in the presence of Gutenberg. Isaac needs to rewrite the poem, an ancient word puzzle, destroyed by the Pope that holds Meridiana’s prison. It isn’t an easy task. It is a complicated masterpiece filled with complexities that Isaac can barely comprehend.

Once it is complete, their only hope to unlocking it is Bi Wei. She does not trust the Porters, but is willing to help Isaac and Lena. With her help, they are able to pull Meridiana’s prison from the poem. On their way back from a disastrous meeting with Meridiana, Isaac figures out how to work it. Only then does he learn how she plans to escape.

With a plan to stop her, and restore Isaac’s magic, they prepare for what they hope is the final battle. Only they won’t just be fighting Meridiana, but other Porters as well. As the dust settles, who will end up with the prison? Will the fractured Porters defeat them and claim it? Will Meridiana defeat them all and free herself? Most importantly, will they save Jeneta?

My Thoughts

This book is by far the best one in the series. It had a much different feel from the previous two. It wasn’t very difficult for me to get into the book and want to keep reading it. I really enjoyed reading it. And as an added bonus, the cover was much better than book 2’s.

As it should be with the third book in a series, the story is much more developed. And it deals with much darker themes than the first two. I like a bit (or a lot) of darkness. It makes it seem more realistic. Not that there can be much realism with vampires and trapped demons and such, but more so with human nature. How far would you go to right a wrong? To save a friend? To protect? That’s what Isaac is up against. I liked how he went rogue in this one. Now that his magic is gone and he isn’t affiliated with the Porter’s, he can do things a little differently (not that he didn’t before). Yes, he is very guilt driven in this, but it yields results. It shows a type of desperation to make right things that he believes are his fault. This is both good and bad. Good because it shows he has some honour. Bad because he disregards how his actions affect others around him. It causes him to dip into the darker aspects of magic to find his answers. Beyond that, I liked the vampire blood bank out in space idea. That was pretty cool.

The only major character of note is Meridiana. There were plenty of minor characters, but they were never really around long enough to be particularly noteworthy. Meridiana is an interesting character. I found her background story very intriguing. While her back story as a person is fiction (a twin to Holy Roman Emperor Otto III is mentioned but nothing else), her imprisoned form has more legitimacy. Pope Sylvester II was rumoured to have made a pact with a demon name Meridiana and she was in the brazen head he supposedly built. I’m quite surprised that Hines didn’t actually make that up. Still, it made a great back story to the quite evil character. We do also get a better look at Ponce de Leon. He has appeared in the other books, but this time we get to see more of him. I like how he and Gutenberg all almost literal opposites. He is more lax and free where Gutenberg is strict and rigid. He also seems more “human” (take that as you will).

Each book so far has been decently written with an evident amount of research and development. This one seems to do that and then some. The language was simple enough and it flowed well. And as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the background of Meridiana was wonderful. It is said truth is stranger than fiction and this is just one case where truth has led to some great reading. The story development in this one is just lovely. I mean, really good. I also appreciate that my previous issues with the series aren’t applicable to this one. The beginning was much better and my inexplicable issue with the writing wasn’t there. Much, much better.

As I said before, this is the best book of the series by far. I am excited to read the final book in the series. I cannot wait to discover the surprises it has in store. Enjoy 😉

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