Libriomancer, poor Isaac is back for another outing that is bound to leave him broken, bruised and betrayed.
Along with his trusty fire spider and eidetic memory of books, he's stepping out to fight back against those who want him and his order dead. This time they almost succeed. Codex Born is the next in the Magic Ex Libris series. The first was explosive with it's inventive new magic system and I'm pleased to see that it got even more creative in this new volume. Isaac is recovering from the events of the first book, trying to find a level of normalcy in his life and studying hard to find new ways to use the magic at his disposal. Then all hell breaks loose in the form of intricately made little steampunk insects.
Isaac and his girlfriend, Lena Greenwood, are attacked at home by a swarm of these bugs and it brings Isaac to the home of his former and deceased mentor. Then things REALLY hit the fan. This book was packed full of the action I've come to expect from Hines. It was tightly written and nothing felt overly gratuitous. There's a few surprises as well and the end was just completely heartbreaking. The best part was the expanded information about Lena. She has a strange, twisted backstory that felt hollow and, frankly, slightly exploitive to me in the first book. I'm glad she's been fleshed out more. Her backstory makes her a much more interesting character and more fully explains her motives. I was so excited to read more about her!
Some of the most fascinating parts of Codex Born are the enhanced magic and the way Hines treats the mythology of books. Each text is referred to lovingly and used inventively. I think Hines really understands the deep love people have for books and how much we treasure them. He understands their power. He gives this knowledge to Isaac, who could easily be any one of us who loves books more than anything.
If you love books and you enjoy urban fantasy in the vein of Jim Butcher or Kevin Hearne, take a moment to grab Libriomancer and Codex Born and introduce yourself to Isaac, Lena and Smudge the fire spider. You won't regret it!