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Codex [Hardcover]

Lev Grossman
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Mar 2004

A long lost library. A priceless manuscript. A deadly secret...

About to depart on his first vacation in years, Edward Wozny, a young hot-shot banker, is sent to help one of his firm's most important and mysterious clients. When asked to unpack and organise a personal library of rare books, Edward's indignation turns to intrigue as he realises that among the volumes there may be hidden a unique medieval codex, a treasure kept sealed away for many years and for many reasons.

Edward's intrigue becomes an obsession that only deepens as friends draw him into a peculiar and addictive computer game, as mystifying parallels between the game's virtual reality and the legend of the codex emerge and the lines between reality, fantasy and mysterious legend start to blur ...

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (8 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151010668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151010660
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The cerebral thriller Codex drops up-and-coming investment banker wunderkind Edward Wozny into the musty realm of medieval literature, where he finds an unexpected break from the rat race--a powerful client's commission to uncrate and organise a library. The diversion quickly becomes an obsession after he enlists the help of the quirkily attractive scholar Margaret Napier. Together they discover his employer, the mysterious Duchess of Bowmry, is in a race with her husband to locate an apocryphal codex that could destroy the Bowmry name. Meanwhile, Edward becomes engrossed in an addictive computer game that bears an uncanny similarity to the object of his search and accelerates his transformation from Wall Street wizard into shiftless dreamer.

For the most part, Edward moves through his adventure merely following Margaret's dedicated lead. As each new twist unfolds, he slips further into the comforting daydream of a life that isn't his but is as thrilling as the race for the codex. Codex wrestles with notions of dreams and reality that commingle as Edward finds himself adrift in a sea of passionate scholars and Old World plots. Lev Grossman's novel is an excellent entry point into the emerging genre of literary history thrillers with an added twist for the technophile. --Jeremy Pugh,


"A compulsively readable novel" (Iain Pears)

"A genuine treat, with its sneaky plot and richly textured storytelling. It also moves so fast that readers won't realize how smart it is" (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Codex takes its place on the shelf [with] The Name of the Rose, Possession and A Case of Curiosities, and it's as entertaining as any of them" (New York Times)

"Fabulously entertaining ... By turns fascinating, compelling, and deliciously disturbing. It's an intelligent thriller that truly is just that: intelligently thrilling" (Boston Globe)

"Mesmerizing from start to finish ... A fabulous double-helix of a novel" (Baltimore Sun) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
EDWARD WOZNY STOOD squinting at the sun as crowds of people excused themselves past him in both directions. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment 16 Jan 2006
After reading the blurb of Codex, I was really looking forward to getting into the story: ancient historical documents linked with a modern day computer game - how? and why?
Eager to get going I ploughed through the beginnings of the story, disappointed with the flat and uninteresting characters, but still waiting for the real interesting stuff to kick in. Unfortunately, absolutlety nothing kicked in. There wasn't even a gentle prod.
While the history was quite interesting, the story I was hoping for failed to materialise and the characters just didn't have any spark.
If you're looking for a good page turner with some interesting histroical reference, then look somewhere else.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the one-star reviews. 20 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked up on Grossman because of The Magicians, and I suspect a great number of people who did the same are glancing over the wealth of bad reviews here and feeling worried. Well, here's what to do: if you like simplistic by-the-numbers plots featuring granite-jawed heroes with all the depth of a freshly trimmed toenail punching their way to a 'satisfying' conclusion, as so many of the reviewers here clearly do, this book is not for you. If, however, you're looking for a refreshingly clever, and cleverly constructed narrative, then come right in.

For a long time, all those one-star reviews of Codex here and on Amazon US kept me at a distance, but having now read and thoroughly enjoyed the book, I have come to understand why so many people believe the majority of Amazon reviews are not worth a damn, that they are written by people with nary the mental strength to work out the complexities of a Nancy Drew novel. Very simply put, most of the bad reviews here and elsewhere are by people who *have not actually read the book*. Instead, they have skimmed it, glossing over the - to me - carefully placed clues that led to a very, very satisfying conclusion. For instance, the complaints regarding the ending: if you don't get it, you should probably give up reading and stick to DVD's. Ones with lots of bullets and explosions. WIthout giving anything away, the clue is right there. Grossman even states the nature of his clever twist outright, for the benefit of those members of the audience still lipreading their way through the narrative. I have seen precisely one review here - or rather, a comment on a bad review - where a reader clearly understood that given the nature of the mystery at the heart of Codex, the book could not possibly end any other way than the way it did.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very disappointing read. 2 Jan 2006
Read the synopsis on the cover and the story promises a great deal, but in reality it fails to deliver. There are supposed to be parallels between the central plot, the hunt for a secret message hidden within a lost medieval manuscript, and a highly complex computer game played by the main character, Edward. Where this connection was I failed to see, but perhaps I missed something! To me the pages of description of the computer game just seemed to be a filler. It added virtually nothing to the plot, apart from a link to one of the other characters towards the and the sudden realisation by Edward about the location of the manuscript.
I found myself disliking Edward, the central character, more and more as the story progressed. He was portrayed as a hot shot, decisive and combative young banker with a great future ahead of him. However, within a matter of a couple of days he is prepared to give this all up for the chance of a working for some dotty English aristocrat. As the days pass by the guy descends into an aimless existence, supposedly obsessed with finding the missing Codex. At the outset of the story this guy was portrayed as decisive, give me a break he would find making a decision to change his underwear taxing.
The biggest disappointment of all was the ending, after wading through 350 pages I hoped to be rewarded with a twist or two at the end. Unfortunately, the final encounter between Edward and his employer is totally implausible and makes the whole story almost pointless. I was left with the distinct impression that after those 350 pages the author felt the same as me, he was bored with it and just wanted to get the book finished as soon as possible.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor (review contains some spoilers) 6 Jun 2007
By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
There's a really good ideas behind this book - what happens if you're looking for a mysterious manuscript that someone wants very, very badly and you discover that the subject matter of that manuscript appears in a popular virtual reality computer game that is sweeping through geeks everywhere? It's an intriguing premise that digs into two buzz areas of popular culture - complex searches and computer game culture. The problem is that Lev Grossman's execution is appalling.

From the start, the "hot shot young banker" is unconvincing. We're supposed to believe that he's an intelligent, ruthless investment banker on the up and up. Unfortunately, Edward Wozny has the backbone of a jellyfish. It's this dichotomy between what Grossman wants us to see and what he puts on the page that really ruins the experience for me. This is because what should be a driven, intelligent young man is led through the salient plot points by contrivance. We don't see him decide anything (even though snap decisions should be central to his character) - instead he is governed by his failure to act and this passivity robs the book of any pace or ugency (which we should have in droves because of the fact that he's supposedly only got two weeks to find this text). Indeed, Grossman loses confidence in even his fortnight time frame and finds another reason to extend it.

Poor characterisation also ruins any tension or mystery on the part of the Duke and Duchess. We gradually learn that they're at war with each other but we're never told why and indeed, their first appearance in the text doesn't suggest anything other than two people who are bored with each other.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars More Dan Brown than Umberto Eco
This book was recommended to me as being a little like Name of the Rose or Shadow of the Wind. And it does share some similarities. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Argent
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing read that makes you itch to put your toe up someone's...
I got very frustrated with the main character in this well written book. There were times when I became so irritated with him that I almost threw the book across the room. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John Peter Green
4.0 out of 5 stars Codex by Lev Grossman
This is my first contact with the author and I am pleased with how much I enjoyed the novel (my typical read would be Tobias Jones or Frederick Forsythe). Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr. W. Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Thriller Pertaining to Books and Medieval English...
Who knew studying Medieval English Literature would be so suspenseful? Lev Grossman's "Codex" is a riveting, rather engaging, literary thriller that is both a celebration of books... Read more
Published 12 months ago by John Kwok
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing read by a talented writer.
This book started out well, there were some interesting plot ideas and characters but didn't really get started. As a reader I felt maybe it was rushed to publication too soon? Read more
Published 12 months ago by Diana J Febry
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This was a book I just couldn't put down. Totally engrossing. Clever and absorbing. It takes you on a journey you don't want to end.
Published 13 months ago by D. A. Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed.
The cover makes this book sound interesting and entertaining. It isn't. It's tediously boring with a yawn filled build up to absolutely nothing. Read more
Published 15 months ago by J-bird
3.0 out of 5 stars Good value for 1!
I bought this book at a car boot sale for 1 and it was worth the money. It kept me reading for 3/4 of the way through, although I skipped a lot of the stuff about the game. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by Mrs. S. Partridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Codex
A surprise. The book is a delight and will keep you guessing to the end. Excellent service from the provider, in perfect condition.
Published on 19 Aug 2011 by Mr. G. M. Ashley
1.0 out of 5 stars goes nowhere
i have just finished reading this book. my dad gave it to me to read and had no preconceptions but as a dan brown fan i was hoping it would be similar. Read more
Published on 15 July 2011 by N. Richards
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