NB: I received a free review copy of this book but that has not affected the content of my review.
Maybe you will understand just how much fun I think this series is if I tell you that I quite literally sent an email to Mr. Hines’s publicist begging her for a review copy, when I learned there were a few available. I was a bit nervous once it arrived though; in the unlikely event I didn’t like the book, I would be stuck with the terrible task of giving a bad review to a book that was given to me for free. Normally when I’ve reviewed advance reader’s copies, it’s been for book series I’ve never heard of before, or for books that I have almost no emotional investment in. This is the first one I’ve done where I cared. And luckily, it all worked out. The last book in the Magic Ex Libris series (for now) is just as fun as the first three in the series, and more importantly, it’s a worthwhile ending.
The last book in the series ended with libriomancer Isaac Vainio revealing the existence of magic to the world. That book ends so hopefully. Isaac is tired of all the collateral damage the secrecy of the Porters (the magical organization founded by Johannes Gutenberg 500 years before) has caused. Revisionary picks up almost one year after the events of Unbound, and things have gone just about as badly as they possibly can in that time. Magic, magic users, and magically created/endowed beings are feared and misunderstood by the general public, and their civil rights made non-existent or severely curtailed by hastily enacted laws based on that fear. Isaac has helped to create a Porter-run magical research institute in Las Vegas, but he’s so busy doing things like testifying at legal hearings and making PR appearances, he barely has any time to do anything proactive. And legal restrictions on magic are almost completely preventing him from using magic to help people. As if all of that weren’t bad enough, there’s a militant magical organization seemingly committing terrorist acts against people who are openly anti-magic in retaliation for unjust laws and brutal attacks on magical creatures.
It’s a frickin’ mess is what it is.
I was a little bit worried while reading this that things were SO messed up they weren’t fixable, or that the book couldn’t end in the at least semi-happyish way I was hoping for, but it manages. All of the characters, including some old favorites, get their due. All that stressful stuff is resolved in such a way that it’s made clear that there are no easy answers and that things will continue to evolve after you close the pages of the book, but it also ends in a way that makes you not want to kill yourself. Ringing endorsement! (No, but seriously, it’s great.)
If you haven’t tried this series yet, I highly highly recommend that you do. It’s fun, it’s nerdy, and it sneaks up on you with the deeper topics when you’re not looking. I can’t wait to see what Jim C. Hines does next!