I’ve been reading Jim Hines since the Goblin series of books – and full disclosure, I know and like him as a person as well. That said, liking someone has not kept me from writing a poor review of their work.
I’m glad to report that I have no such problems with Jim’s work. Codex Born is the second book in the Magic Ex Libris series (as other reviews say, you should absolutely read Libriomancer first or you’ll be lost), and continues Jim’s track record of continually improving his work. Not only does it continue to have the same fun and humor as the first book in this series (and really, in all of Jim’s work), but he realistically deals with the problematic parts of urban fantasy and certain types of characters. And he does it all with compassion, caring, and an uncompromising honesty that left me wanting more.
Nothing is done just for giggles – even the parts that make you giggle. Nothing is just serious, even the parts that make you suddenly realize that you’ve been taken in by a character’s act just like everyone else in the story.
Jim’s style fits into the so-called “New Comprehensibles” strain – it’s clean, lean, and effective without being ornate or verbose.
All this said, I would hesitate before recommending this book for extremely young (pre-teen) readers. While I appreciate Jim’s method of addressing issues – including sex – while keeping the hot-and-steamy largely implied, the issues and how the characters deal with them are front-and-center. To put it in perspective, I’d happily give a copy to my sixteen year old, but would probably steer my girlfriend’s seven-year-old daughter to the Goblin and Princess series for a few years yet.
That one caveat aside, I heartily and highly recommend Codex Born as Jim’s finest yet.