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Codex Hardcover – March 8, 2004
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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
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When told to put his money where his mouth was, he did. And it was dreadful. I am of course referring to "Warp", his first novel. In that novel, a bunch of kids just out of college go to work, and then hang out drinking and watching Star Trek while trying to figure out what to do with themselves and how to grow up.
In his later series, "The Magicians", a bunch of kids graduate from Junior Magic College, don't get jobs, go to parties, hang out drinking and being terrible people while trying to figure out what to do with themselves and how to grow up.
In THIS book, a young man graduates finance college, works as an investment banker, and tries to... no, he thinks he knows what he's doing but in reality he doesn't. Enter major plot twist... he gets to be a librarian!
Actually it's a compelling thriller, with books and video games and minor British royalty but it somehow manages to not be boring.
Lots of people hated the ending but I thought it was realistic.
Overall this is a very solid sophomore entry by Grossman. I could carry on about the themes and whatnot, but frankly I'd rather folks read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
Somewhere admidst an English nobleman’s private library, crated and shipped to the United States for its protection at the advent of the Second World War, may and may not be a hand-scribed book written by one Gervase of Langford in the Fourteenth Century. Now, a generation later, the Duchess wants the codex found. The Duke wants it permanently lost. And a scholar of medieval literature says it never existed in the first place.
The young banker, about to be transferred to the London office of his firm from New York, is dropped into the middle.
[Meanwhile, he’s invited by friends to play a strange computer game, one which sucks him in ever deeper while making strange connections with his current life.]
Lev Grossman has done something strange in the world of this sort of fiction— he has abandoned some of the common tropes, about normal people whose lives are touched by adventure being always able to rise to the occasion, or that their lives, once touched by something so far beyond the scope of the every day, will never be the same.
[Spoiler Alert] In Codex, “good guys” can betray the protagonist, the “bad guys” can win in the end, and the life of the protagonist can end up essentially unchanged.
While I preferred the “Magicians” trilogy, this is an excellent read, and I’m headed back to Amazon to find out what else Mr. Grossman has written.
Top international reviews
The similarity ends there though. Because the quality of the writing is not good and it has a Dan Brown quality of silliness that undermines any of it's good features. The protagonists are universally badly drawn, the main character, Edward, is laughably stupid.
So I persisted because it's a page turner but it is very silly. I guess sometimes a silly book is just what you want.
This is a slower paced mystery more reminiscent of the Dan Brown genre. It's very good, but not an action adventure.
The other poor reviews baffle me