Monday 12 August 2013

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Libriomancer starts out at a galloping pace and never really takes a breather. Fire spider, library, VAMPIRE ATTACK, rescue, GANDALF HAS DISAPPEARED, WAR IS ABOUT TO START, RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN.

(I say Gandalf. I should say Gutenberg).

The writing is decent, the pacing solid, but somehow the story never really bewitched me, it never lulled me into that magical sense of being totally engrossed. It never absorbed me in the way that great fiction does. It's not The Neverending Story, it's not Inkheart, and it took the book about 150 pages before I actually started to like our hero. It's not that he is anything less than a decent guy, it's just that he isn't anything more interesting than your average guy either (until he finally unleashes some librarian-powers and starts doing detective work through means of research). Basically, everything is done well enough to be solid B-rate fantasy.

I suppose one of the big factors in not quite making me happy is the central conceit: that books are magical and magicians can pull things out of books, but the things have to fit through the space of the book's pages, and not be living intelligent beings. Which sounds interesting enough, except mostly, our hero pulls out guns or swords or, at a stretch, healing potions. It reads like books are a storage system for weapons and potions in a video game. It's a very utilitarian approach to "the magic of reading", and quite disappointing. (Later in the book, things get more interesting, but it takes about half the novel before things start to intrigue at all).

It's readable, well-paced light entertainment. Not terribly absorbing, but pleasant enough.

Rating: 3/5

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