Review: Codex Born

Series: Magic Ex Libris: #2

“My name is Isaac Vainio,” I said. “You smashed my library. Prepare to die.”

This time around, the stakes are higher. We learn a bit more about the history of magic in the world and Libriomancy in particular, including a way that doesn’t require Gutenberg’s presses to come into being, which isn’t something I had even considered. On top of that, we get some technomancy, more looks at the big nasties that live in books, and a big magical showdown.

Characterwise, I like seeing how Isaac is growing, both in power and in confidence. His relationships with Lena, with Nidhi, and with Gunteberg are all fascinating in different ways.

“You don’t believe in the risks. Not to you. You think you’re too clever, just like every other Porter who ended up destroying themselves.”

We also get a lot more about Lena, which is a plus. She’s a fascinating character, given her somewhat artificial origin, but entirely ‘real’ nature. This book takes the kind of unfortunate way that her needs were described in the first book and explores them much more deeply, both in the modern day with Isaac and Nidhi and in flashbacks when she was first ‘born’. It’s still an uncomfortable story line at times, but I think it’s dealt with in a much better manner in Codex Born.

Worldbuildingwise, we get a few more magical beasties (werewolves and wendigos oh my) and constructs (a colony of metal bugs that can grow and evolve, very cool). Along with that, we can finally answer a question I had from the first book (given that I read these on my Kindle): how does Libriomancy work with ebooks?

On the other hand, this only feels sort of related to the first book. We have the same world, most of the same characters, but the big bads (at least at first) seem to have shifted gears. The final battle feels a bit abrupt, even if it is pretty epic.

Overall, worth the follow up. I look forward to seeing where this goes next.

‘If you really want to kill a libriomancer, hook a bomb up to a big red button and tell him not to press it.’