Review: “Revisionary,” Jim C. Hines

Pros: Fantastic wrap-up for the series
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

There’s really no way to talk about Jim C. Hines’s Revisionary: Magic Ex Libris: Book Four without spoilers for the previous books, so go read them first. If you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for? This is one of my favorite book series.

In this volume, the world now knows about magic. They know about the libriomancers of the Porters. They know about werewolves, vampires, and so forth. They may not understand them very well, but people like Isaac Vainio hope that will come with effort and time. Isaac has opened up New Millenium, a research company meant to find ways to help the world through magic. They even have a number of medical trials going on–one includes Isaac’s niece, whose parents are wondering why Isaac didn’t just help her in the first place before everyone found out about magic. It’s one of many questions with sticky implications, questions so many people are struggling with. To make things worse, there’s a more militant group of magic-wielders calling itself Vanguard, and it seems Vanguard has decided violence is the answer–a high-profile killing spree threatens to roll back all of the progress Isaac and his allies have made.

 

Thankfully, the addition of political plots in no way slowed down the action or prevented Isaac from getting himself into waaaay too much magical trouble. As usual, it’s delightful to see what sorts of magic he and his allies pull out of their hats–I mean, books–when needed. It’s such a clever magical system, and I love the geeky librarian-as-hero protagonist. There are some parallels with real-world problems, of course, but the story doesn’t beat you over the head with them; they’re just there for you to notice and think about should you wish. Isaac faces betrayal from within and without. There’s a politician who’s apparently making all the bigoted, horrible mistakes that politicians in fiction always make under these circumstances–whoops, sorry, politicians in reality. But Hines doesn’t let the politics take over from the magic.

Isaac ends up having to break into his own New Millenium campus, as well as a magical prison. While he has plenty of help (you didn’t think dryad Lena was going anywhere, did you? Or Smudge?), these are still very dangerous actions. The pacing is wonderful. The buildup of trouble on top of trouble proceeds beautifully. There’s also plenty of thought put into Isaac and Lena’s (and Nidhi’s) unusual and lovely relationship.

Characterizations have lots of depth and interest to them. The plot twists and turns wonderfully. The magic is creative and fun, and the world is well-thought-out and interesting. I don’t know how many more things I can gush about. Okay, one more: there’s some wonderfully quotable passages in here; I probably drove my husband nuts reading him bits and pieces. I appreciate writers who can pull that off.

As I understand it, Revisionary is the final book of the series. The only thing I’ll say about that (other than, noooo!) is that Hines brings it to a wonderful close. There are still plot hooks and imaginative ideas that you can play with, but the conclusion is very satisfying. I can’t wait to see what Hines does next!

 

NOTE: Book provided free for review
Expected publication date: February 2, 2016

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