Codex Born by Jim C Hines

Codex BornA review by Nalini Haynes

Codex Born is the sequel to Libriomancer, a fannish fantasy where a wizard-type geek with a pet candy-eating fire-spider gets a nymph girlfriend although he has to share.

The nymph girlfriend, Lena, is among the Codex Born. Lena reflects on her wakening and her relationships that have shaped her character and physical attributes.

Isaac, the geek whose ‘libriomancy’ – magic – comes from pulling imagined items out of (mostly fantasy and science fiction) books, is trying to come to terms with sharing Lena with Nidhi, Lena’s significant other.

Meanwhile the Devourers, evil beings from another dimension, break in to Earth, taking over creatures in a bid for world domination.

The Porters, a library of Libriomancers, discover old foes survived presumed exterminated in their defeat who might be valuable allies. Along with werewolves and vampires, the sparkly and non-sparkly kinds.

Codex Born was written by Jim C Hines, calendar girl; Jim is renown as being a white guy who champions equity. In Codex Born, Jim explores equity in relationships, colour and non-traditional intimate relationships while acknowledging his characters’ propensities are fodder for gossip and possibly concern in their small town.

Romance versus date-rape analogies contrast healthy relationships with the threat of nymph-domination. The dynamics of abusive relationships are revealed, equating domestic violence to a nymph being in thrall to her master. After-effects of a father abusing his son conspire to create a villain while, thankfully, avoiding the former-victim-becomes-perpetrator trope. While the story definitely ‘goes there’ with intent to be thought-provoking, it doesn’t linger. The horror of domestic violence is overshadowed by other, supernatural horrors.

As the ‘shared’ person in the romantic triangle is not the central character of the story, Codex Born is unconventional. Codex Born, like Libriomancer, would make an awesome cartoon or CGI movie: ‘splodey, filled with fan-service and more than a touch of the sexy. Highly recommended for fans of action/comedy feel-good fantasy with lots of fannish references to other books.

★★★★☆ 4 out of 5 stars