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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the one-star reviews.
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,...
Published on 20 Jan 2012 by G. Gibson

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment
After reading the blurb of Codex, I was really looking forward to getting into the story: ancient historical documents linked with a modern day computer game - how?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...
Published on 16 Jan 2006 by Jamie Maker


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment, 16 Jan 2006
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
After reading the blurb of Codex, I was really looking forward to getting into the story: ancient historical documents linked with a modern day computer game - how?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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor (review contains some spoilers), 6 Jun 2007
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
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. The Duchess's motivation for seeking the Codex is limp and Grossman cannot decide whether he wants her to be manipulative and cunning or just a confusing ditz. Given that it's the Duchess's motivation for wanting the book that should be a big reveal in the story, the ham-fisted way in which it's handled is a disappoinent.

Also disappointing is the characterisation of Margaret, both as Edward's partner in trying to find the text and as his love interest. Again, she's unconvincing and her initial role is to serve as Little Miss Exposition, giving you details about why this book could be important and what it's supposedly about. I was particular irritated by this because Grossman actually sets out an interesting premise for the book, and I initially thought that he was going to take a path similar to The Rule Of Four (another medieval manuscript story by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason) but when she cracks the mystery, it's depressingly simplistic and a huge let-down. Grossman has a really good premise, but can't work out the delivery. In addition, the final twist in the text involves Margaret, but I can guarantee that you will see it coming from almost the very start because she's so bland and boring, that it's the only possible way he could liven her up.

Where Grossman does get it right is in the computer game segments. He really gets across the sense of time-loss that you feel when you get fully immersed into a game - there's a scene where Edward joins a group of computer nerds for a joined up battle that's particularly well done and convincing. Again though, what lets him down is that his parallel between the game and the book is half-baked. He has a character with real potential in the Artiste (although the tendency of writers to make characters suffer from Aspergers is itself becoming a cliche) but throws him away due to unconvincing motivation, which is particularly annoying at the end of the book where you expect some kind of explanation or hint behind his actions but never get it.

Grossman's pacing in the story leaves a lot to be desired. The search for the book is crucial to the plot, but when you get to page 190 and you're not told why this book is so special, you start to lose interest. The last fifteen pages feel like a tag on - Grossman is obviously trying to tie up loose ends but it's too late by then and really serves only to highlight the problems with his characters.

There are some real bloopers within the text that made me laugh. For example, Edward seems delighted that he's going to be flown to London by the Duchess in business class. Given the amount of money that the woman's supposedly got and given that Edward is supposed to be an investment banker, this should have been a "yeah, big deal" moment. Flying first class would have been a better bet. There's also a curious lack of hassle on the part of Edward's employer to his failure to respond on the arrangements of his transfer from New York to London - having relocated overseas myself, I can guarantee that you get chased on that sort of thing because they want you there on day one, ready to make money for them.

Ultimately, I can't help but feel that this purely was an opportunistic publication on the part of Random House. Mysteries with a medieval background and people in power are very much en vogue due to Dan Brown and there's a glut of similar stories in bookshops. However, I think that they jumped the gun on this one. The germ of an entertaining read is in there, but it would have benefitted from a major re-write to allow Grossman to iron out the contrivances in the text.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the one-star reviews., 20 Jan 2012
By 
G. Gibson "gary gibson" (scotland, united kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
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.

Look, ignore the bad reviews, unless you like simple, undemanding stories where the hero always gets the girl and the bad guy always ends up falling into a pit, screaming 'foiled again!' For the rest of you - those who understood that The Magicians was a clever, intricate novel by a writer who understood his art on a deep level - Codex will not disappoint.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Roller coaster? More like the teacups!, 9 July 2006
By 
J. Hart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
It starts with all the anxiety of that slow chain-clacking climb to the top of the first big dip. I was so intrigued with the promise of a thrilling roller coaster ride of twists, loops and turns, but when I came to the end of the book I was so morosely disappointed that I actually went online to check if some of the final chapters had been left out due to a printing error... only to discover that the book actually did end like that.

I was really looking forward to this yarn, but it unfortunately turned out to be a yawn.
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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
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
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.
Some reviewers have alluded to a similarity between this book and the "Da Vinci Code" due to its connection with medieval artifacts, but the similarity ends there. Where Dan Brown moves the storyline along at a rapid pace, the Codex lumbers along. The author, Lev Grossman, fails to engage the reader in the story or allows you to either like or identify with either of the main characters. Whilst the blurb on the cover wisely avoids mentioning the "Da Vinci Code", it does draw parallels with "The Name of the Rose", but two books less alike I cannot imagine.
A reviewer from the San Francisco Chronicle said of the book "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." I was left wondering if I had read the same book as this reviewer or perhaps I was just not smart enough to see all those sinister sub-plots!!
Finally, the best advice I can give anyone is if you want a good read, look elsewhere. Sorry to say this book will not be finding a permanent place on my bookshelves.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mind Numbing!, 13 Dec 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
I brought this book looking for something to get caught up into and was very disappointed! The story had all the protential of being great.
Sadly the start and middle were slow and disjointed and the end was rushed and a big anticlimax.
If you are looking for a book along the lines Dan Brown's then look somewhere else.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DONT BUY IT, 26 Sep 2006
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
I bought this book on a whim, thinking it would compare to the Da Vinci Code, The Third Secret and the likes. Oh was i sorely dissappointed. The book started slow, and in my opinion got slower.

I'm one of those people who, if i buy a book and its poor i'll still read it so i can say i have.

Those are some precious hours of my life i'll never get back
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time, 15 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
this book had a lot of promise, but ultimately turned out to be a big waste of time. the so-called mysterious game that has something to do with the codex really has nothing to do with the story at all. if its the last thing you do, steer clear of this book and watch some grass grow instead.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books I have ever read, 10 Nov 2005
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
When I bought this book, I thought it looked fairly interesting, but I quickly realised it was simply another badly-written book trying to cash in on the art/conspiracy style of The Da Vinci Code. The difference is simple: Dan Brown's book appears well-written, and sucks you in so you don't want to stop reading. Lev Grossman's book does neither of these things.
The characters are impossible to identify with - Edward, the 'hero', at times seems quite a cool, suave character, at others he seems a total loser playing for hours upon end on a computer game, and sometimes he seems dead. The love interest, Margaret, is similar, although she seems at least to have one well-defined feature - her coolness towards Edward. Since this book, although not written in the first person, is written from Edward's point of view, this sadly means we never get to know Margaret either.
Similarly, the computer game Edward becomes obsessed with, MOMUS, is very badly defined. At times it seems like Age of Empires, at times like Doom, at times like something never before seen on this planet. How can we identify with a man playing the game if we don't know what he is playing?
Smaller things are also to be pointed out - the chapter breakdown is difficult to understand - sometimes there are line breaks that skip two weeks, while chapter breaks that seem to have been inserted to display a vague cliffhanger, which are never remotely interesting. The book is also, in the typical American way, slightly insulting to Brits (taking one example, describing Bangor as being in England), despite the fact that quite a few minor characters seem to be British.
In all, very disappointing. This book is not, as described on the cover, "compulsively readable", "mesmerizing from strart to finish", "fabulously entertaining" and is certainly not "a genuine treat." Avoid if at all possible.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The most bathetic ending since Great Expectations, 28 April 2007
By 
Jacqueline Walker (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Codex (Paperback)
This book does not live up to the billing on the back cover.

The 'mystifying parallels ... between the game's virtual reality and the legend of the codex' remained mystifying to me, I'm afraid.

While I was impressed by the author's knowledge of 14th century literature (but then what would I know), his knowledge of other specialist areas was lacking.

'"Uh-huh," he said, with precisely the manner of a radiologist examining an X-ray of a crushed spleen.'

Doesn't sound panicky enough to me - while you were leisurely examining the X-ray (on which you wouldn't see anything anyway as a spleen isn't exactly radio-opaque) and 'uh-huh'-ing, your patient would have died of blood loss.

Has Mr Grossman ever been in London Heathrow arrivals? 'red and white payphones' (actually British payphones are blue), 'high-tech cigarette machines'!, 'snack bars with alcohol' - in Arrivals?? 'suspended videos showing TV'? I don't think so!

"..., Heathrow was rich in arrows and signs, branching trails, forking paths, into which his anonymous fellow travelers busily sorted themselves"

Has the author ever even got off a plane before? - last time I did we all followed the same path (which is literally walled off from those going the other way) - to Baggage collection via Passport Control.

Then there are the irritating errors with timing. One minute it is 5.05pm and Edward is watching the sun beginning to set at the front door of the upstate branch of the library (the sun setting at 5pm in September?!) and then, after doing no more than finding their way down to the subterranean warehouse levels, it is 'past seven'!

Finally, Edward Wozny must be the most irritating hero since Pip (and you don't realise that in the case of the Dickens until the end). You just want to go in there and shake some sense into him. And why is he so hot all the time - with all his hedge fund wealth, couldn't he afford air-conditioning?

The only explanation I can think of for this book is that it must be a kind of living allegory of the waste of time that is a computer game - and reading it is too.
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Codex by Lev Grossman (Paperback - 1 Sep 2005)
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