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Magus of the Library, volume 3

By Mitsu Izumi 

14 Feb, 2024



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2019’s Magus of the Library, Volume 3 is the third tankōbon in Mitsu Izumi’s secondary-universe fantasy manga series (Toshokan no Daimajutsushi in the original Japanese). Magus has been serialized in Good! Afternoon since November 2017. The English translation appeared in 2020.

Having reached the fabled Aftzaak, City of Books, life as a kafna (librarian) stretches before Theo… provided he can pass the grueling entrance exams.

The vast majority of applicants fail the entrance exams. Some try their luck again. Many give up on their dreams of being kafna and pursue some other occupation. Not being a kafna is unthinkable to Theo, but determination may not be enough.

Theo has two assets, one of which he doesn’t realize. He has the constitution of an ox, which allowed him to pass an endurance-based test. Another asset, Hyron, the dominant language of the Great Library, is Theo’s second language, so he is graded on a curve. However, while he was a determined student, he is from a backwater town with an unremarkable library. Other students had tutors and vast libraries at their disposal.

Applicants must sit an interview. Theo becomes so overwrought during this phase that he bursts into tears. He cannot remember the latter part of the interview, which may be for the best.

Finally, the applicants are required to participate in a group project. Each group is assigned a different task, with a strict time limit whose duration is unknown to them. The groups have access to the Great Library’s resources but, as grand as those are, they are finite.

Theo is paired with Natica Quapan and Dianasys di’Ohgga. Natica is studious, determined, and thoroughly unimpressed with her team-mates. Dianasys is seemingly carefree, highly observant, and like Theo, mixed race. Theo is Theo. Believing that she has been saddled with Dianasys and Theo as a handicap, Natica insists on taking charge. Too bad for the trio that Natica’s many skills do not include leadership.


This setting is diverse and its diversity includes cat people (who are, oddly enough, interfertile with standard-issue humans). For reasons unclear, I became curious how cat people (whose ears are on top of their heads) would wear glasses if they needed them. Perhaps the setting has magic to correct vision.

I too am shocked to discover that there are students at the Great Library who are utterly convinced that any fellow student of a different background was entered purely as a diversity recruit and therefore lacks the basic skills and attributes to be a true kafna. I wonder if library training is sufficient to correct them on this point or if the library bureaucracy is filled with people who are convinced they are surrounded by lesser people? Entrenched prejudice seems like the sort of thing a couple of short courses can easily correct. [**Editor’s note: ha!]

As one might expect from previous volumes, the continent has an abundance of cultures. This is not accompanied by any particular desire to learn about or respect other cultures. See the paragraph above as well as the continent’s long history of genocidal wars. Many such settings blame conflict on dark and evil gods. Here, it’s just people being dicks.

Framing the story as the retrospective account of someone who became a significant figure may seem likely to undermine dramatic tension. After all, the reader knows Theo has some grand destiny waiting. However, Theo does not know that — all the evidence suggests just the opposite — and the path to whatever awaits could well include significant detours. Nothing shown so far precludes a detour as a school teacher or mason.…

This volume dwells on what may prove Theo’s key skills, which are his propensity for befriending people even when those people are overtly hostile to him, and for inspiring them once he has befriended them. In short, Theo is the person you want in charge of group projects1. Saving the world (if there is a save the world plot) seems likely to be a group project….

So, another entertaining volume that got the lead a bit closer to his goal, while exploring various aspects of the setting. The author appears to have hit a sweet spot where the plot is advancing just quickly enough to keep my interest without being too fast. This is ideal from a reader’s perspective, as well as that of an author who wishes avoid destitution.

Magus of the Library, Volume 3 is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo), and here (Words Worth Books).

1: Which circle of hell features the punishment of being the default group project leader?