Unbound (#3)

Previous: Codex Born | Next: Revisionary

Hugo winner Jim C. Hines’s hilarious and clever Magic ex Libris series, where books come alive and libriomancer Isaac Vainio combats magical threats that spring from the page

For five hundred years, the Porters have concealed the existence of magic from the world.

Now, old enemies have revealed the Porters’ secrets, and an even greater threat lurks in the shadows. The would-be queen Meridiana, banished for a thousand years, has returned in the body of a girl named Jeneta Aboderin. She seeks an artifact created by Pope Sylvester II, a bronze prison that would grant her the power to command an army of the dead. 

Michigan librarian Isaac Vainio is powerless to stop her, having been stripped of his power and his place among the Porters by Johannes Gutenberg himself. But Isaac is determined to regain his magic and to rescue his former student Jeneta. With no magic of his own, Isaac must delve into the darker side of black-market magic, where he will confront beings better left undisturbed, including the sorcerer Juan Ponce de Leon.

With his loyal fire-spider Smudge, dryad warrior Lena Greenwood, and psychiatrist Nidhi Shah, Isaac races to unravel a mystery more than a thousand years old as competing magical powers battle to shape the future of the world. He will be hunted by enemies and former allies alike, and it will take all his knowledge and resourcefulness to survive as magical war threatens to spread across the globe. Isaac’s choices will determine the fate of his friends, the Porters, the students of Bi Sheng, and the world.

Only one thing is certain: even if he finds a way to restore his magic, he can’t save them all….


“The mixture of magic and modern day is appealing and the story moves readers along at a brisk pace.”


“The conclusion is surprisingly upbeat, though with Isaac looking at interesting possibilities for the future.”


“This is a great series with a lot of great components, but more than anything else it’s a love-letter to imagination.”

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

“There is power when fantasy decides to play into the themes of science fiction and own the possibilities of change and development 'in real time.' UNBOUND taps into that, and I give Hines enormous credit for it… An extremely interesting entry [in the series], a real game changer. The joys of the first two novels of the possibilities of Libriomancy are transformed and changed here into something very different, and in many ways, greater.”

SF Signal

“The same beloved characters […] showcase[s] Hines’ comedic expertise […] a worthwhile read.”

RT Book Reviews

“UNBOUND by Jim C. Hines, is without a doubt one of the most entertaining books I have read so far this year […] Out of everyone I know who reads, there really isn’t anyone I wouldn’t be willing to recommend this book to. There is just something really fun about seeing the main character from one book you enjoy, reaching into another and pulling a piece of it out. It’s also not just fantasy that UNBOUND or the Magic Ex Libris series references, it touches on every genre, so there is something for every body in the book.”

Arched Doorway

“[I] love libriomancy as a concept. Wonderful characters and relationships. Touching look at depression […] Hines’ depiction of depression is spot-on […] I enjoy reading dark things, but when they cross the line into actively depressing then I can’t stick with them […] The fact that Hines could ride that line so beautifully without ever stepping over it in the wrong direction is really kick-ass.”

Errant Dreams

Escape Rating A: The pace of this story is utterly relentless — breaks for breath are few and far between, both for the reader and for the characters in the story. At first, that’s because Isaac feels so guilty that he can’t let himself stop, and later it’s because once he gets close to the forces of evil, they don’t let up on their attacks on him [...] It will keep you on the edge of your seat every minute.”

Reading Reality

“I am absolutely loving the momentum of this series […] UNBOUND is an excellent continuation of the Magic Ex Libris series and an indication that if you haven’t started this series yet you should definitely get on that! […] I don’t know what book four could possibly do to top UNBOUND, but I’m damn excited to find out!”

On Starships & Dragonwings

“Fast reads that reference beloved works.”

Fantasy Literature