- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (March 8, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0151010668
- ISBN-13: 978-0151010660
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 286 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Codex Hardcover – March 8, 2004
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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 organize 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 addicting 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. In all, Lev Grossman's novel is excellent entry into the emerging genre of literary history thrillers with an added twist for the technophile. --Jeremy Pugh
From Publishers Weekly
A young investment banker burrows deep into a labyrinthine world of computer games and literary riddles in this captivating thriller by Time book critic Grossman (Warp). On a two-week vacation before he heads for a new post in London, 25-year-old golden boy Edward Wozny volunteers his services to the Wents, the duchess and duke of Bowmry, two of the firm's biggest clients. Since he assumes they require his financial expertise, he is exasperatedand then intriguedto discover they wish him to catalogue a collection of ancient books in the attic of their New York apartment. Captivated by the library of rare manuscripts, Edward finds himself oddly content in this mystifying world of words. A special request adds extra urgency to the assignment: he is asked to find a possibly mythical codex by 14th-century monk Gervase of Langford, A Viage to the Contree of the Cimmerians. Most scholars believe that the textwhich predicts the coming of the apocalypse and may conceal Went family secretsnever existed, and that view is shared by Margaret Napier, a hard-nosed graduate student whom Edward enlists to aid him in his daunting task. Fixated on locating the codex, Edward becomes equally preoccupied with MOMUS, an intricate, frighteningly vivid computer game. Cyberworld and real world are more connected than Edward realizes, and he gradually discovers that the game is intimately related to his literary sleuthing. A trip to England and a well-orchestrated final twist bring this intelligent, enjoyable novel to a fittingly understated conclusion. Author appearances in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
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The storytelling is what made this book, not the plot or the characters. Both of the latter are staid and trite, although I must say that I like the climax of the book. But, the storytelling was what made this worthwhile for me. It was stilted, and most of the character's interactions were likewise. In effect, this gave it the same kind of strange, surreal feeling that The Office (a comedy on NBC) has. This feeling was quite entertaining. Although the book felt almost as if there was a message hidden within it (and the stengogram discussion didn't help alleviate my paranoia), I couldn't find anything worth taking away for a very long period of time.
Despite the fact that it felt weird and I can't really recall much of value within the book directly, it was still very entertaining, and I will read it again someday. I enjoyed it, but I can't quite place my finger on why.
An interesting book, entertaining if you are in the mood, painful if you aren't. I recommend checking it out, rather than purchasing it.