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Authors: Jim C. Hines

Codex Born

BOOK: Codex Born
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C
ODEX
B
ORN

The Finest in Fantasy from

JIM C. HINES:

MAGIC EX LIBRIS:

LIBRIOMANCER (Book One)

CODEX BORN (Book Two)

THE PRINCESS NOVELS:

THE STEPSISTER SCHEME (Book One)

THE MERMAID’S MADNESS (Book Two)

RED HOOD’S REVENGE (Book Three)

THE SNOW QUEEN’S SHADOW (Book Four)

THE LEGEND OF JIG DRAGONSLAYER:

GOBLIN QUEST (Book One)

GOBLIN HERO (Book Two)

GOBLIN WAR (Book Three)

C
ODEX
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J
IM
C. H
INES

Magic ex Libris
: Book Two

Copyright © 2013 by Jim C. Hines.

All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-101-63575-9

Jacket art by Gene Mollica.

Jacket photo by Denise Leigh.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1629.

DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

All characters in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Nearly all the designs and trade names in this book are registered trademarks. All that are still in commercial use are protected by United States and international trademark law.

First Printing, August 2013

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA
HECHO EN U.S.A.

To Amy, Skylar, and Jamie.

Thank you for putting up with me through another one.

Acknowledgments

One year ago, I was doing the new-book dance
1
and desperately trying not to freak out over the release of my first hardcover with DAW. I failed, but I was trying. I was so excited about the idea of a magic-wielding librarian, about bringing Smudge back, about getting to write a story about the love of books. I was also terrified, because I had absolutely no idea how this book would do.

Libriomancer
went into a second printing within two weeks. Then a third, and a fourth. It made the Locus Bestseller list. It was picked up by the Science Fiction Book Club, released as an audio book from Audible, and just came out overseas from Del Rey UK.

Thank you all so much. I feel like the clichéd TV drunk who keeps hugging everyone and saying, “I love you, man!” but it’s true. Thank you for reading, for your emails and your reviews, for telling your friends about the book and for simply sharing the wonder with me.

Thanks to everyone at DAW, too. For seven years Sheila Gilbert has believed in me and helped me improve each of my books, including this one. Thanks also to Joshua Starr, Katie Hoffman, Jodi Rosoff, and everyone else who worked behind the scenes to help make
Codex Born
happen, as well as to artist Gene Mollica, who actually managed to track down a cover model with Lena’s smile.

Joshua Bilmes at JABberwocky has been the other constant in my career, helping to sell my books here in the U.S. and elsewhere. Joshua has
always gone above and beyond to support his clients, and it’s very much appreciated.

Margaret Yang gets a special shout-out here, both for her helpful feedback on
Codex Born
’s storyline and for her invaluable linguistic assistance. I will be forever indebted to her for stopping me from calling a group of magic-users “The Stomach of Mister Bi.”
2

Thank you to author Kelly McCullough, who also read a draft of the story and helped me whip it into shape. (Even if he did limit his feedback to just the English words.)

Finally, a big old hug of gratitude to everyone on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog, who helped me with more nitpicky details than I can count, from the plausibility and potential problems of trying to read books underwater to an extensive debate about whether or not sparkling vampires could metabolize marijuana.
3

As a reward for reading this note, here’s a behind-the-scenes tidbit: the T-shirt Isaac wears in
chapter 13
originally said simply, “Ook.” I changed it because I didn’t think everyone would get the joke, but you and I know what Isaac’s favorite shirt
really
says.
4

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the second volume of
Magic ex Libris
.

“Gutenberg’s invention, while having given to some national freedom, brought slavery to others. It became the founder and protector of human liberty, and yet it made despotism possible where formerly it was impossible.”

—Mark Twain

Table of Contents

Chapter   1

Chapter   2

Chapter   3

Chapter   4

Chapter   5

Chapter   6

Chapter   7

Chapter   8

Chapter   9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Epilogue

Bibliography

People say love changes a person. They have no idea.

Frank Dearing was the first man I ever met. He made me whole. He provided me with purpose and identity. And he gave me a name. “Greenwood” might not be the most original moniker for a dryad, but it was mine.

Nidhi Shah gave me strength and a larger purpose. Through her, my life grew from a single farmhouse to a larger world of people, plants, and magic.

Then there was Isaac Vainio. I thought his greatest gift to me would be a sense of freedom, however limited. But through him, through his curiosity and his often deranged need to poke the universe and ask “What does this button do?” I found something more.

I spent fifty years confined by my nature. Isaac helped me to discover hope.

A
S A LIBRIOMANCER AND a researcher, this was one of the moments I lived for. I loved that this brilliant, untrained fourteen-year-old girl had just shattered an entire body of magical theory.

I hated the fact that I couldn’t figure out how she had done it.

Jeneta Aboderin slouched in a white plastic lawn chair on the old deck behind my house. Plastic sunglasses with pink-slashed zebra stripe frames hid her eyes as she read from an electronic tablet. “You’re not concentrating, Isaac,” she said without looking up.

Her words blended the faint Nigerian and British accents she had acquired from her mother and father, with a generous helping of teenaged annoyance at me, the thickheaded librarian who couldn’t pull magic from a simple poem.

“Am, too.” Not my most brilliant comeback, but I was off my game today. I was concentrating so hard my forehead would be permanently creased. I just wasn’t
feeling
the words. I glanced down at my own brand-new e-reader, a thin rectangle the size of a trade paperback, with a gleaming glass screen and a case of rounded black plastic. The buttons were recessed into the edges, and the whole thing looked like it had come straight off the set of
Star Trek
.

I was afraid I was going to drop the damn thing.

“Try again,” Jeneta said.

I scrolled up through Walt Whitman’s
Leaves of Grass
, back to the beginning of a poem I had read fourteen times so far this afternoon. I had memorized it the second time, but reading the words helped me to touch the book’s magic. At least in theory. “Maybe if I started with something simpler, like creating moonlight?”

She snorted. “‘Look Down, Fair Moon’ isn’t about moonlight.”

“Are you sure? It’s right here in the title.” I tilted the screen toward her and pointed. “Maybe I’ve got a defective reader.”

I imagined her eyes rolling behind her glasses. She yanked the reader out of my hands, and her fingers tapped a staccato beat on the screen. “Check out this one. ‘Dream Deferred,’ by Langston Hughes.” Slender brown fingers sank into the poem, emerging moments later with a raisin held between them. “You think Hughes was going on about raisins? It’s a metaphor.”

She left the “duh” at the end unstated. Shaking her head, she popped the metaphor into her mouth and said, “He packs every syllable with hope and fear and desperation, until the words are ready to explode. How can you not feel that?”

Her exasperation at my obvious thickheadedness didn’t bother me. I was more interested in how easily she had produced that raisin from an electronic device. Johannes Gutenberg himself, the man who
invented
libriomancy, had said it couldn’t be done.

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