Codex

  • by Lev Grossman
  • Narrated by Jeff Harding
  • 11 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

About to depart on his first vacation in years, Edward Wozny, a hotshot young investment banker, is sent to help one of his firm's most important and mysterious clients. His task is to search their library stacks for a precious medieval codex, a treasure kept sealed away for many years and for many reasons. Enlisting the help of passionate medievalist Margaret Napier, Edward is determined to solve the mystery of the codex-to understand its significance to his wealthy clients, and to decipher the seeming parallels between the legend of the codex and an obsessive role-playing computer game that has absorbed him in the dark hours of the night.
The chilling resolution brings together the medieval and the modern aspects of the plot in a twist worthy of earning comparisons to novels by William Gibson and Dan Brown, not to mention those by A. S. Byatt and Umberto Eco. Lev Grossman's Codex is a thriller of the highest order.

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What the Critics Say

"A genuine treat, with its sneaky plot and richly textured storytelling. Moves so fast that readers won't realize how smart it is." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Fascinating, compelling, and deliciously disturbing." (The Boston Globe)
"Takes its place on the shelf of self-referential, bibliophilic page-turners like The Name of the Rose, Possession and A Case of Curiosities, and it's as entertaining as any of them." (The New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Artificial sweetener when you expect sugar.

I read both of Grossman's Magician books, and I enjoyed and recommend those without reservation. There, he created interesting characters and your journey with them through an exciting story arcs gracefully from beginning to end.

In Codex however, the main story starts very slowly, after many minutes of defining the main character as an entitled, shallow, and barely likable guy. I developed a theory about halfway through that the author was following some sort of novelist's rulebook that contained requirements like "when describing a character's action (especially a love interest), always use exactly two adjectives; e.g. 'as she turned, her silky, raven hair fanned out in a sensuous, liquid arc before coming to rest on her slender, tanned shoulder.' " If there was a drinking game where you had to take a swig of beer every time that happened, you'd pass out by chapter 8.

The narrator's delivery is flat when reading plot, sometimes singsongy when reading descriptions (I think he noticed the author adhering to the above rule too), but very good when doing character voices.

Throughout the story I kept thinking things like 'this reminds me of Da Vinci Code' or 'this reminds me of a Neal Stephenson book.' I don't consider it a bad thing if that happens, and I kept thinking 'yeah, but I wonder where Grossman's going to go with that already proven idea...'

Unfortunately, it goes almost nowhere. I'm echoing other reviewers, but this book doesn't do much more than POINT to tasty plot potentials and only randomly does it seem to let us have so much as a bite.

The one area where we are served an unexpectedly rich treat was all the time spent describing the history of books. Had he spent more time taking us down those paths, and less time half-explaining the things that were supposedly propelling the plot and motivating the characters, I don't think I'd have felt the book so objectionable.

I haven't written many reviews, and I feel bad coming out strongly against what obviously took a ton of effort to create. This is the first time ( in many years as an avid Audible listener ) that I feel the difference between what I enjoyed and what I didn't like were so wildly out of balance.
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- Thomas

Great story, terrible ending

What disappointed you about Codex?

The ending. At best, this book was intended as a first book in a series, because the ending is a complete let down. It's as if the author just gave up and left the characters standing where there were in the story. Because of this huge flaw, I would not recommend this book.


Any additional comments?

This is a well imagined story, with rich characters and an unconventional storyline in the world of rare books. Jeff Harding does a great job creating a distinct voice for each character. Too bad about the ending.

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- Jonathan M.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-07-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio