“Revisionary” by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2016)


Things have come to a very sharp point in the world of Magic Ex Libris. Isaac Vainio has revealed to the world that magic is a thing that exists and can be done by certain people. His goal was to create a utopian future where magic and humanity could live happily together. A year has passed and things are anything but . . .

Vainio is working at an installation that is looking to help those in need with the use of magic. Meanwhile there is a mercenary group known as Vanguard made up of ex-Porters and magical creatures conducting terrorist attacks on America and wants to start an all out war. The US government doesn’t really know how to handle this, and is capturing and locking away “potential supernatural enemies.” Overseas, China uses a nuclear weapon to combat against magical creatures, and Russia is forcefully drafting all inhumans into its military. Everything is pretty much going to hell real fast, and it was all essentially kicked into high gear by one Porter known as Isaac Vainio, so it’s up to him to fix it all somehow.

Out of the four Magic Ex Libris books, Revisionary is definitely a much darker and more intense novel. Everything is at stake here and all the people we have come to like and know may not make it out alive. Because this is also a world of the human and magical non-human, there are some definite parallels with the X-Men universe, which while understandable would’ve been more interesting if Hines had tackled this controversial subject from a different angle. Nevertheless, Revisionary is an intense, heart-stopping finale to a really great urban fantasy series.

Originally written on March 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Revisionary from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Unbound” by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2015)

Unbound
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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.

To purchase a copy of Unbound from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Libriomancer  Codex Born

“Codex Born” by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2013)

Codex Born
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Jim C. Hines brings back his unlikely hero and protagonist, in libriomancer Isaac Vainio, after putting him through the ringer in the first Magic Ex Libris book, Libriomancer. Hines does just what you should with a sequel to a fascinating and absorbing series, opening the world a little more in its magical complexity, providing some new wow moments, and learning more about the interesting characters. The key perhaps to Codex Born is that Hines doesn’t bother with too much setup, throwing the reader in headfirst with breakneck action and kickass magic.

A wendigo has turned up dead and Isaac, libriomancer at large, is brought in to investigate. He brings along his brilliant and beautiful buxom Dryad girlfriend, Lena (pictured inaccurately on the cover), who brings her girlfriend, psychiatrist Nidhi Shah, along to help. It’s a complicated trifecta of a relationship, but together there’s a lot of brain power and magical ability. The trail takes them into a secret, ancient group of libriomancers from far away who hate the supposed creator of libriomancy, Johannes Gutenberg, and have plans to end his domination. Vainio will have to make the choice when he gets to the bottom of everything and truly understand where his allegiances lie.

After reading Libriomancer, readers will be excited to see where Hines takes his characters with Codex Born, what new books and authors he will plunder for cool magical abilities, and where he’s going with his world. This sequel goes where no reader will predict, blowing it all wide open and changing the entire paradigm that had been established about libriomancy in the first book. Exactly what a great sequel should do.

Originally written on December 12, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Codex Born from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Libriomancer

Bookbanter Column: “Doing What’s Right” (May 21, 2011)

If knowledge is power, we live in an age where that power travels at the speed of light, or in the case of the Internet, the speed of a T1 line and a fiber optic cable.  The information superhighway has become sort of a misnomer when applied to the worldwide web, as the information conveyed now travels so much faster than an automobile traveling at eighty, ninety or a hundred miles an hour, along with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and the many thousands of blogs out there updating every minute and hour of every day.  So when a bad decision is made by an editor and then a publisher, not all the apologies and changes of heart in the world can affect the outcome once the author has made her decision, pulled her story, and blogged about it on the Internet.

Let me backtrack a little first.

Wicked Pretty Things

The young adult anthology Wicked Pretty Things was originally scheduled to come out in September of this year featuring a number of popular as well as up and coming authors including Jessica Verday; edited by Trisha Telep and published by Running Press in the US and Constable & Robinson in the UK.  Telep had pitched it as “a collection of dark fairy YA stories (with a bit of a romantic edge).”  Verday submitted a story, “Flesh Which is Not Flesh,” for the collection that featured a relationship between Wesley and Cameron, two boys.  She was then told by Telep that the story would be published so long as she made one of her characters female as a “male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.”  Verday thought about this for a while and then made the important decision that she knew she had to: she withdrew her story from the anthology, making her stance clear in a post on her blog.  This was a hard choice for Verday, who has only published three books in a trilogy and is still an up and coming author, but she chose to stay true to what she believed and what she thought was the righting thing to do.

In a follow up post, Verday defended her decision and presented the comments and responses from the publisher, which was essentially that while the publisher regretted the decisions and actions of the editor, they were still going forward with the anthology, along with keeping Telep as the editor.  It was acknowledged all around that bad choices had been made on the part of Telep and that they would now willingly publish “Flesh Which is Not Flesh” in its original form.  But Verday wasn’t changing her mind, as the initial “knee-jerk” bad decision had still been made and to now pretend like it hadn’t happened would completely defeat the point of Verday making this decision in the first place.  Also the publisher had said that it was a case of miscommunication with the editor and that they had never been consulted in the matter, and publisher Christopher Navratil even wrote an article entitled What Happens When a Headline Goes Viral for Publishers Weekly about it; the issue here was that the publisher kept saying they did not support Telep on this decision by any means, and yet they were still standing behind her and publishing the anthology.   Running Press were essentially covering their bases however they could to save face and look good and put the whole matter to bed.  Telep was very apologetic, saying “I sincerely regret the sequence of events which has led to Jessica Verday’s story ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’ being excluded from the forthcoming anthology Wicked Pretty Things. This has been the result of a misunderstanding on my part which is entirely regrettable … I fully support LGBTQ issues.”  Yet as Jim C. Hines clearly put it on his blog: “But it was hurtful.”

Much to Telep’s and the publisher’s chagrin, the matter wasn’t going to die.  Verday had spoken her mind on her blog and word spread across the Internet as more blogs and Twitter accounts and readers heard and learned about the story and then broadcasted it on their respective networking communication site of choice (including the BookBanter Blog).  Then Lisa Mantchev, Lesley Livinston, Karen Mahoney and Seanan McGuire – all authors that were to be featured in the anthology – withdrew their stories for publication, and Melissa Marr asked that her name not be used to promote the project.  McGuire, much like Verday, is a relatively new author who has gone on to win the John W. Campbell Award in 2010 for Best New Writer and be listed on the New York Times bestseller list.  In a heartfelt post McGuire makes her viewpoint clear: “I am not withdrawing from this book because I’m not straight. I am withdrawing because of my little sister and her wife, and because of my girlfriend, and because of my best friend, and because of all the other people who deserve better than bullying through exclusion.”  Each of these authors had to make hard decisions that may certainly have affected their careers, and yet they stood behind their choices and never backed down.

But there was still more.  Fantasy author Jim C. Hines made a post on his popular blog with the title of “Wicked Pretty Things and the Erasure of LGBTQ Characters.”  In the post he begins it with a conversation between his six-year old child and himself in clarifying that marriages do not have to be solely between girls and boys, whereupon his son responds with: “That’s silly.  How would they have babies?”  Hines commented with: “I understand where his confusion comes from. Pretty much every cartoon on TV has male/female relationships only. Every movie he watches, every book he brings home from school… Any nonheterosexual relationship is simply erased.”  Then he segues to Jessica Verday and lays out what happened, citing his sources everywhere he can and makes his point on that matter clear.  Then he goes one giant step further in offering to publish the authors’ stories that were withdrawn from the anthology, as well as pay them under the following conditions:

  1. If you have not already found a home for your withdrawn story, I would be happy to read it.
  2. If I like the story (and knowing most of the authors involved, I suspect I will), I’ll offer $100 up front to publish it here on my blog.
  3. Each story will include a donations link. Once the initial $100 has been covered, further donations will be split 50/50. Half will be paid to the author, and the other half will be donated to a LGBTQ-friendly cause.
  4. If I publish multiple stories, I will look into putting together an e-book collection of those stories, with profits again being split between the authors and a LGBTQ-friendly cause.

The post went on to receive a large number of comments and when asked recently how Hines’s decision had continued to be received, he responded with:

“I made my offer because I agreed with the authors. An editor has every right to decide what she will and won’t publish, but if you’re an editor who refuses to publish LGBT content or assumes such content is automatically ‘inappropriate,’ I have the right to refuse to work with you. A lot of people were writing to express their support for these authors, and I figured the best way I could show my own support was to offer to buy and publish those withdrawn stories.

I’ve spoken to several ex-WPT [Wicked Pretty Things] authors so far. Some of them have already found other homes for their work, which is great. I’m waiting to hear from a few others. I just want to make sure these authors are able to be paid for their stories, and that — hopefully — we’ll all be able to read and enjoy them.”

In my last round of researching for this column as I began to write it, I came across the announcement – albeit not officially emblazoned on their site or displayed anywhere – that the publisher had canceled the publication of Wicked Pretty Things.  It looks like enough people were making a big enough deal about this to force the publisher to make their own hard decision on the many choices that authors, writers and bloggers alike had already made.  This was the right outcome.

The bottom line is this: Trisha Telep made the wrong call in asking Verday to change her story because she thought it wouldn’t be accepted by the publisher for the anthology, even though it followed the guidelines laid out by the publisher.  But once that call had been made, the stance and point were clear and feelings had been very much hurt, and not all the apologies and regrets from Telep or the publisher could change the fact that when Telep saw it was a gay story (“a total of 3 kisses and sexually, it’s G-rated”) about two teenage boys, she said no.

And to end this column on a lighter note, while Running Press will no longer be publishing Wicked Pretty Things this year, it is nevertheless the proud publisher of the book Threesomes and Moresomes, which Nick Mamatas has kindly shown the cover for on his blog.  Nothing wrong with that book, right?

Threesomes and Moresomes

“Libriomancer” by Jim C. Hines (DAW, 2012)

Libriomancer
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Libriomancer is one of those books that feels like it should’ve been written a lot sooner, given its subject matter, and yet when one is done reading it, one is left wishing they could read it over again for the first time.  From the author of The Princess novels, Libriomancer is the first in the Magic Ex Libris series that will hopefully make Jim C. Hines the well-respected and appreciated author that he already is.

In a unique world that blends books with magic and fantasy, Isaac Vainio is a libriomancer, a unique person with unique powers to be able to reach into books and draw out objects of power (so long as they can fit through the pages); as a libriomancer he is part of a clandestine group that has existed for half a millennium beginning with the great Johannes Gutenberg.  Only now there are vampires that have leaked out of books attacking people, particularly other libriomancers, and the great Gutenberg has been kidnapped.  Vainio thought he was done as a libriomancer, but when his friends start getting killed, he knows it’s up to him to find out who’s behind it all.

Libriomancer is simply a fun book, featuring a great story and some fantastic characters.  Hines has plenty of fun throwing in many nerdy book references, as well as the books libriomancers choose to use to gain special objects.  With a diverse cast of interesting people, Libriomancer is an addicting read that will leave readers impatiently wanting more.

Originally written on November 10, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Libriomancer from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

BookBanter Column #2: Doing What’s Right

BookBanter Column

The second issue of the BookBanter Column  is up on the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review site.  It’s all about the doomed YA anthology that was to be called Wicked Pretty Things, but when the editor told the author of a particular story that she wasn’t going to publish it because of the gay characters, things went downhill from there.  And if this is the first you’re hearing about it, then you might just want to give this column a read . . .

When Authors do the Right Thing

A couple weeks ago I heard that Seanan McGuire (who does the great Toby Daye urban fantasy series and Feed) had withdrawn her story from a forthcoming YA anthology, Wicked Pretty Things, because one of the authors, Jessica Verday, had submitted a story involving a homosexual relationship and had been told she needed to make one of the characters female otherwise they wouldn’t publish it.  Seanan talks about this here.

A number of other authors have since pulled their stories also and Melissa Marr has asked that her name not be used on the cover for a blurb.

Today Jim C. Hines made one giant leap to publish these withdrawn stories, where he said:

  1. If you have not already found a home for your withdrawn story, I would be happy to read it.
  2. If I like the story (and knowing most of the authors involved, I suspect I will), I’ll offer $100 up front to publish it here on my blog.
  3. Each story will include a donations link. Once the initial $100 has been covered, further donations will be split 50/50. Half will be paid to the author, and the other half will be donated to a LGBTQ-friendly cause.
  4. If I publish multiple stories, I will look into putting together an e-book collection of those stories, with profits again being split between the authors and a LGBTQ-friendly cause.

You can read all about it on his post.

On days like this, it makes me very happy to see some really good people in this world, especially when something begins as a complete negative and gets turned into a strong positive.  Think I might make this my next column.

“Wyrd” Progress Report XVI

WORDS WRITTEN: N/A

TOTAL WORDS: 30,117

REASON FOR STOPPING: The week has ended and time to continue work on the other project

WORDS FOR THE WEEK: 4007

Hit some neat milestones in the Wyrd manuscript this week: the thirty-thousand work mark, and the 150-page mark.  The other impressive milestone this week was just passing the four-thousand work mark for writing for the week when the average and minimum is 2500.  Something new I started doing this week was bringing my laptop to work and writing for half an hour during my lunch break and hitting the 500-word mark then as well as other writing during the day.  I was partly encouraged and inspired by Jim C. Hines’ recent post on choosing his job ten years ago and writing during his lunch breaks, resulting in six books and over 40 short stories published.

Another successful week of smashing that writing goal, and here’s to the next one with White Horse.

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