“Unbound” by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2015)


In the third installment of the Magic Ex Libris series, it get real. After things were essentially left in shambles at the end of Codex Born, with the Porters in disarray and Guttenberg severely unhappy with our unlikely hero, Isaac Vainio has now been stripped of his magical powers, setting up for what should be a pretty lame story, and yet Unbound turns out to be the most thrilling book of the series so far.

Vainio already feels bad about having the girl he was looking to protect kidnapped, and now it is revealed that Jeneta Aboderin has been inhabited by Meridiana, a would-be queen who has been banished for a millennium. With the power of her ereader, Meridiana seems unstoppable with her magic. Thankfully, Vainio gets help from an old friend in the sorcerer Juan Ponce de Leon.

Much like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, Magic Ex Libris is a sort of reading crack that you just can’t get enough of. Hines never holds back in what his characters do, but also in what happens to them. He remains true to the story, as well as doing some really crazy stuff, like launching Vainio into space to get some blood for a vampire. A third book in a series can be tricky as it has to build from the second book but not go too far to be just ridiculous. Unbound straddles this tricky ground well and keeps the reader interested throughout with new characters, an expansion of the world and turning the whole concept of the Porters and the magic system on its head. As with all great series, readers will be left wanting more.

Originally written on February 11, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

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