I am excited to welcome author Jim C. Hines, who’s celebrating the release of his second Magic ex Libris novel, Codex Born.
Five hundred years ago, Johannes Gutenberg discovered the art of libriomancy, allowing him to reach into books to create things from their pages. Gutenberg’s power brought him many enemies, and some of those enemies have waited centuries for revenge. Revenge which begins with the brutal slaughter of a wendigo in the northern Michigan town of Tamarack, a long-established werewolf territory.
Libriomancer Isaac Vainio is part of Die Zwelf Portenære, better known as the Porters, the organization founded by Gutenberg to protect the world from magical threats. Isaac is called in to investigate the killing, along with Porter psychiatrist Nidhi Shah and their dryad bodyguard and lover, Lena Greenwood. Born decades ago from the pages of a pulp fantasy novel, Lena was created to be the ultimate fantasy woman, strong and deadly, but shaped by the needs and desires of her companions. Her powers are unique, and Gutenberg’s enemies hope to use those powers for themselves. But their plan could unleash a far darker evil…
Exclusive Excerpt of Codex Born!
I set the Oz book aside and grabbed Plato’s The Republic. Reading was tricky with only one working hand, but I soon held the Ring of Gyges. I had done an honors paper as an undergraduate, arguing the similarity between Plato’s tale and Tolkien’s One Ring. I shoved The Republic back into my pocket and started in on The Marvelous Land of Oz.
“Dare I ask what you’re planning to do with a ring and an old pepper box?” Lena asked when I was done.
I beamed. “It’s a surprise. Give me two minutes to get ready.”
I slipped the ring onto my finger and vanished. In theory, true invisibility should have left me blind. Vision relied on the interaction between light and the cells at the back of the eye, but thanks to the ring, the light passed through me as if I wasn’t here.
Fortunately, libriomancy obeyed belief over physics, and few modern-day readers thought about invisibility on a cellular level. I ran back to Christina Quinney and took a lipstick from her purse, then hurried toward the garden. Once there, I dropped behind the overturned bench.
The seat and back were slabs of polished black granite. The engraving along the back read, In memory of Annette Butler. Had the truck hit this thing head-on, it probably would have broken both the bench and the truck, but it looked like they had struck it at an angle.
“I’m sorry about this, Annette.” I uncapped the lipstick and drew two red eyes and a large mouth. I wasn’t much of an artist, especially since the lipstick had turned invisible when I picked it up, but it left visible, waxy lines on the granite. I added a pair of angry eyebrows as well, along with uneven ears to either side.
I put the lipstick away and pulled out the pepper box. Creating the powder of life from The Marvelous Land of Oz had been the easy part. The challenge was getting through the ritual to use it. I opened the box and sprinkled the powder over the bench, then raised my left pinky and said, “Weaugh.” Next was the right thumb. “Teaugh.” Finally, I raised both arms and waved them like a dancer doing jazz hands. “Peaugh.”
L. Frank Baum wrote some weird magic. I just hoped I had pronounced it correctly.
Through my glasses, the powder looked like white sparks melting into the metal and granite. The whole contraption gave a shiver. Lipstick eyes blinked, and the ears perked up.
“Hello there,” I said. “I need you to do me a favor…”
A wendigo was the first one to spot the bench bounding toward them. With a snarl, it broke away from the circle to meet this new threat.
The bench didn’t even slow down. It charged with a straight-on waddle, as if it wanted nothing more than for that wendigo to plop down and enjoy a nice, comfy seat. Instead, the wendigo grabbed the bench and lifted one end into the air.
It was an impressive display of strength, one which did the wendigo no good whatsoever as the seat and back clapped together like enormous granite jaws.
Meet Jim C. Hines!
Jim C. Hines is best known as a fantasy novelist and the guy who did those gender-flipped SF/F cover poses. His first novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Actor and author Wil Wheaton described the book as “too f***ing cool for words,” which is pretty much the Best Blurb Ever. After completing the goblin trilogy, Jim went on to write the princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s currently working on the Magic ex Libris books, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from northern Michigan.
He’s also the author of more than forty published short stories. His first professional story sale was the award-winning “Blade of the Bunny,” which took first place in the 1998 Writers of the Future competition and was published in Writers of the Future XV. Jim is an active blogger about topics ranging from sexism and harassment to zombie-themed Christmas carols, and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.
Jig the Goblin