Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Codex by Lev Grossman

Edited at Mr. Distortion's request. He didn't think I made it clear enough how much I enjoyed the book.

Title: Codex
Author: Lev Grossman
Copyright: 2004
Intended audience: Adult

First line: "Edward Wozny stood squinting at the sun as crowds of people excused themselves past him in both directions."

Edward Wozny is a successful investment banker who becomes involved in a quest. The holy grail of this quest is a medieval book, or codex. Powerful clients of his firm, the Duke and Duchess of Bowmry, have hired Edward to unpack and organize a collection of ancient books that have been crated and left unopened since the beginning of World War II. It is supposed, by the owners of the crated library, that a rare and mythical codex by a medieval monk will be found in this group of stored books. Scholars seem to know of this codex, but most do not believe it ever existed. Edward finds himself drawn into the mystery of the codex and begins some research on the life and writings of the monk. During his research, Edward meets Margaret Napier, a graduate student writing her dissertation on the monk. She doesn't believe in the existence of the codex, but is intrigued and joins Edward in the search.

Edward is simultaneously drawn into a strange computer game which bears an uncanny resemblance to his search for the medieval codex. The game has a dreamlike and labyrinthine quality to it and the mingling of cyberworld and reality gives Codex an eerie atmosphere. The tension builds as Edward gets pulled further into both the computer game and his search for the codex.

Edward is mystified when he is told to stop unpacking the library and quit the search for the codex. He is further mystified when the Duchess contacts him personally and asks him to continue searching for the codex ... secretly. Apparently the Duke and Duchess are at odds. What is it that the Duchess is hoping to learn from the codex? What is it that the Duke fears?

Codex delivers a final twist that is rather understated considering the tension and build up of the first 3/4 of the book. I got the impression that the author had too many loose ends and didn't quite know what to do with them; hence the rather abrupt and understated end. This is Mr. Grossman's first novel and I think he did an outstanding job writing an atmospheric and suspenseful novel that was hard to put down.

Read this one for atmosphere, quest elements, and for a story that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard of this one and was curious to see if it was worth reading. Thanks for the great review. I will be adding it to my wishlist.