Libriomancer / Jim C. Hines. Originally published 2012.

Libriomancer is The club Dumas for sf/fantasy fans.  It’s a relatively light adventure story packed to the brim with cameos from other, more well known books. It’s a fantasy novel with a bibliography, and as such provides fans of the genre with plenty of in-jokes as well as possible suggestions for further reading.

Brief plot description

(Spoiler free)

Isaac Vanio is a library cataloger with a secret. He is also a libriomancer, a magician with the power to make fiction real. After being assaulted by vampires, he discovers that an unknown power has been manipulating the vampires into attacking magicians. Joined by dryad Lena Greenwood he sets out to save the world …

So how is it?

It’s more fun than it has any right to be. Libriomancer’s main premise is, more or less, that belief in something empowers that thing. In the context of the main character’s powers, it means that things taken from popular books are more effective than things taken from unknown books.

It’s a fun premise, and a lighthearted book. It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s a big part of its strength, given how far-fetched the premise might otherwise be. Johannes Gutenberg is an immortal wizard. Ponce de Leon also shows up.  Lena’s character comes across as a slap at the Gorean/misogynisitic entries in the planetary romance genre.

Despite the humor, Hines still manages to keep things action packed. This is one of those books that I picked up and didn’t put down until it was done. It’s less noire than the Dresden files, less over-the-top violent than Sandman Slim, and less juvenile than John dies at the end, but exists as a distillation of the best parts of all four.

I’m a fan.

Hines is also notable for his photo project of replicating the poses of female characters on the cover of sf/f books. (You should check them out, it’s totally awesome.)


The hero is a cataloger

Raises some interesting questions about the author’s responsibility for the content of their work

So many other references it’s fun to try and pinpoint everything

There’s a bibliography so it’s a good source for finding new books to read


It’s a little light. It’s not particularly challenging, intellectually or emotionally

If you haven’t read sf/f fairly widely, then you’re going to miss a lot of what this book has to offer

Apparently some people are offended that Lena isn’t supermodel-thin


This book is a pretty safe recommendation for any and all fans of contemporary fantasy. It’s almost the “Weird Al” of the genre, poking fun at everything but in a totally inoffensive way. It’s silly and fun and perfect for anyone looking for something like that.

Everyone I’ve recommended it to so far has loved it. If you’re turned off by magic in a modern setting, this isn’t the book for you. Otherwise, it’s definitely worth seeking out.

Other books for people who enjoyed this one:

Basically any of the contemporary fantasy books I’ve reviewed previously would be a good fit. The Vorkosigan books are also a solid recommendation, as they have the same combination of humor and adventure.


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