Revisionary – Magic Ex Libris: Book Four by Jim C. Hines (2016) – Okay, I’m finally reviewing something written in this century and my first five star review of the year. In these real-life days of politics, loss of rights, and impending war, it’s nice to slip into a nice urban fantasy about…politics, loss of rights, and impending war? Of course, the real world doesn’t have people who can perform magic and pull practical items out of books to use in the worldwide fight against evil.
I’ve read the other books in the series, and, as always, the best part (aside from the clever premise of pulling Excaliber or a light saber or Lucy’s healing potion out of a book) is the hero. He’s so honest and determined that you don’t mind that he’s not James Bond or Harry Potter. He’s plain old Isaac Vainio, the Not Chosen One and a researcher who works for the Porters, a secret society of magic users. After saving the world several times and almost destroying the Porters, Isaac and his intrepid friends reveal to the world that magic and libriomancers exist.
Of course, the first thing the government does is abolish and curtail magic in all forms, putting Isaac and his new magical center outside Vegas in dire straits. Although Isaac may not always make the right decision for the right reason, he has some creative friends to help him out. Primary among them is Lena, his lover from a busty female warrior book and a powerful dryad, and her girlfriend, a non-magical therapist. Of course, Isaac never goes anywhere without his trusty early warning system, Smudge, a fire spider with a craving for M&Ms.
Running the research department at New Millennium, Isaac had hoped to work on some new technologies to help mankind. Instead he uncovers a plot by a group called Vanguard to make humans afraid of the werewolves, vampires, and other magical creatures hidden in their midst. Composed of former Porters, senators, and military leaders from around the world, Vanguard’s goal is to destroy mankind as we know it and replace it with a centralized, non-magical power (them).
All Isaac and his band of helpers have to do is find out who is behind it all, save the sirens kidnapped to destroy the world with their song, convince their own people within New Millennium to fight to the death with them, and expose the government’s secret prison for magical beings. As always, the story moves along very briskly in a well-thought out manner. The relationship between Isaac and his friends is an interesting one, and the hero stumbles, slips, and charges forward to risk it all.
Isaac is an endearing hero, and the bad guys are three-dimensional (except for the senators which would take more than magic to make likeable). I worried when Isaac got killed (temporarily) and Smudge lost a leg. No one gets away unscathed. I even teared up at the ending.
Jim has a winner here with his likable hero, an interesting take on magical realism (I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to pull Harry’s invisibility cloak out of a book?), and I’m sorry to see this story arc finish. I’m going to miss Isaac and his colorful friends.
Thank you, Mr. Hines.