Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris #4) by Jim C Hines

Revisionary: Magic Ex Libris: Book Four - Jim C. Hines

Isaac Vainio has revealed the magic to the world. It seemed he had little choice in the matter and he had some amazing dreams – even now with the New Millenium project he hopes to bring in so many amazing things to improve the world and humanity. Magic can make the world better


Unfortunately for his dreams, people are suspicious, scared, angry, prejudiced, panicked, demanding and also quite creative in the many many ways magic can make the world a whole lot worse.


Between magical terrorists, conspiracies, government crackdowns and growing international chaos – Isaac has to try and bring some level of peace and order before everything completely falls apart.





We had a major game changer in the last book – the existence of magic was revealed to the entire world. All world governments are now aware that magic exists and the supernatural exists and everyone is reacting as you’d expect.


With general panic and confusion and a whole lot of chaos


I like how this is presented. Even if we’re focused on Isaac in the US, we do get regularly little inserts letting us know what is happening in different parts of the world. We see many different approaches and a lot of it is unpleasant and a lot of it is complicated. I really like that we have something in between genocidal slaughtering rage and utopian love and acceptance. I think this is very true of the real world. I think humanity would react with fear and hate in many cases… but I also think that at least some humanity, enough, would be…. Uncomfortable with the idea of a whole scale extermination. Certainly many would be on side. And they’d certainly be on side with limits and restrictions – but there would be enough discomfort to make genocide not an automatic go-to.

So we have a lot of complexity. And that includes with Issac is wonderfully idealistic. He wants to use magic to solve all the world’s problems. He has big dreams about the amazing things he can do. He can cure all these diseases! He can make a portal to the moon! He can make everything awesome all the time isn’t it going to be wonderful.

And then we have the ghost of Gutenberg, a senator who is on his side and basic reality slapping him – not with evil (though there’s that as well) but just how short sighted his idealism is. Like he wants to cure all the people – but this effectively means medical experimentation (on children no less!) with no scientific oversight or testing for side effects. It’s alright for Isaac to say “no the book says it’s fine there’s no side effects in The Lion the Witch the Wardrobe” but there’s no way you can expect the greater scientific community to accept that without some level of oversight. Or there’s Isaac insisting he will never weaponise magic – which is fine; but what about when enemies of the United States clearly are? What about China and Japan sabre rattling to war? What about Russia drafting supernatural creatures into the army? In this position can you just decide weaponising magic is completely off the table? On top of all that we have the fact that, as the book points out, the Porters are not an American organisation and there are more Libriomancers in Indian and China than the US – so where does that leave the Porters when one country is weaponising and the whole nebulous concept of sides and positions


I like how Issac’s very earnest, very well meaning moral positions are just severely challenged because things are rarely that simplistic. It works so well with the world building and bringing a heavy dose of reality to Isaac’s very hopeful stance.




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