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2.98 of 5 stars 2.98  ·  rating details  ·  4,158 ratings  ·  579 reviews
About to depart on his first vacation in years, Edward Wozny, a hot-shot young investment banker, is sent to help one of his firm's most important and mysterious clients. When asked to uncrate and organize a personal library of rare books, Edward's indignation turns to intrigue as he realizes that there may be a unique medieval codex hidden among the volumes, a treasure ke ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 8th 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jul 03, 2007 Irina rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
I read this book on vacation, and so my brain was as relaxed as possible and as willing to be understanding. However, for the sake of full disclosure (and, hopefully, credibility), I am a graduate student in Medieval Studies, and I happen to have been taking a couse in the Medieval Book this semester, so that was my background while I was reading Codex.

I don't really need to repeat the comments of most of the people here -- that the plot is thin, the characters shallow, and that at best, the nov
Jenny Bannock
Here's the thing. I loved the story and the way it unfolded--at a leisurely pace, with moments of inspiration and excitement. The problem, however, is that the last couple of chapters build build build and FIZZLE. There were at least half a dozen scenarios that I could think of for the ending as I was reading up to it, and instead what I got was this uninspired, pat ending with loose ends left everywhere. I don't need everything to be resolved by the end, but really. The author couldn't have at ...more
Young investment banker gets caught up in the search for a medieval manuscript that may or may not exist.

Ouch, this is not good. It's what appears to be Grossman's default protagonist: young white New Yorker dude who is deeply confused that his enormous privilege doesn't translate automatically to happiness. But his later fantasies have so much more muscle and richness to them. This thriller, by comparison, thumps blandly along to its dull conclusion.

That's actually one of the saddest things abo
Ben Babcock
If you were an investment banker before the 2008 recession, and you had just begun your first vacation in four years prior to moving from New York to a cushy new position in London, would you take on a job unpacking and cataloguing an ancient library for an elusive, eccentric, and extremely wealthy British couple who also happen to be nobility? That’s what Edward Wozny does in Codex, and it changes everything. On the surface, that seems like it should be a good thing to say about a novel. Change ...more
I never just pick up a book off the shelf and buy it. But the title caught my eye and with a scan of the back cover I got carried away…. Medieval Manuscripts, Videogames, New York, mystery, rich people… SOLD to the man in the book story with the wandering eyes. And the quipped reviews on the back from the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, et al were practically beating off all over the cover. Buyer beware!

It was a shallow breezy read Grossman gives us th
Codex started so well, with a tone that reminded me strongly of Grossman's other novel, The Magicians. The book has one of those great beginnings that plunge you straight into the intrigue of the plot; from protagonist Edward's encounter with a strange couple, to his appointment with a client and subsequent acceptance - reluctant but instinctive - of a book-related quest, I was hooked within the first chapter. Scores of titillating details - Laura Crowlyk's archaic apartment building with its ec ...more
This book took a long time to grow on me. This was partly due to the basic fact that most thrillers start out slow and then speed up faster and faster until you cannot put it down. The other part was that, early in the novel, he uses the phrase(if I can recall correctly) "very expensive grey handmade suit." Whenever a banker wears a handmade suit, it is costly. He did not need to use "expensive", let alone "very expensive."

My snobbery, though, came back to bite me because I spent a good hour be
Michelle M
Written before his wildly acclaimed Magician series, I can tell this is an early attempt at a novel. While he can still spin a wicked tale, it's not as polished as later books.

Edward is a high-profile investment banker with a short sabbatical between job postings when he's asked to sort out an antique book collection for a distant Duke and Duchess, and specifically to look out for a certain book rumored to be real and potentially in their stacks.

This, of course, leads to intrigue and suspicion,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was all set to give this book a higher rating, really. The writing is not uncompelling -- I wouldn't say it's slick and fascinating prose, but it's not a turn-off, either. It's okay for lazy reading, and the descriptions are pretty good. Some parts are quite fascinating, particularly the descriptions of MOMUS.

Characterisation is shaky, though. I don't particularly care about any of the characters, or feel convinced by their relationships to each other. Edward, the main character, was blandly u
This one caught my eye in the library, and since I've read Lev Grossman's other works, I figured I'd give it a go.

Clearly, it's good that some things improve as time goes by.

I just finished this less than 15 minutes ago. And I'm still angry with the ending. Completely anti-climactic. And even if it was done on purpose, to show lack of emotional development? No. Just no. I also didn't find the 'big shocker' to be all that shocking. In fact, I pretty much saw it coming.

It's really, really good th
Two separate threads of story, clumsily interwoven into one completely unconvincing read. A really badly written main character, who interacts with a series of really badly written support characters...some of whom are beyond strange.

There was no good reason why Edward Wozny would agree to take on the job of cataloguing a client's library, especially when he was supposed to be on vacation, and there was no obvious reason why he would become hooked on what sounded to me like the world's most bor
I honestly can't remember the last time I read a book so incredibly up its own arse as Codex. My God, this was a slog and could I see the last day or two over, knowing the ultimate revelations at the heart of the 'mystery', I would not have bothered. Nor should you.

The book gives us a rare library and priceless manuscript, as promised, but there's nothing 'deadly' about the secret. There's nothing interesting about it either. Plus we have to wade through 300 pages of dry, humourless prose driven
Reading the book jacket, I was intrigued by this story, only to be horribly disappointed. And a fair bit of it, I'm sure, was that the writing just didn't develop the characters at all. Where to begin? We first meet our protagonist (Wozny - can't even remember his first name, even though I just finished this yesterday) and quickly learn that he is good at his job, headed to London for his company, and has 2 weeks of vacation. He somehow (it's never properly explained why he ends up on this proje ...more
Trixie Fontaine
Really enjoyable, readable, suspenseful bookworm stuff for weekend/vacation reading. There were some annoying elements, but nothing off-putting enough to wreck the fun for me. Maybe not as good as the very best in the genre, but I liked it way more than the NYT bestsellers revolving around similar themes.

Reading other people's 2-3 star reviews I have to agree with a lot of their complaints, but I still managed to really like the book. Even though the ending isn't very satisfying I didn't feel li
It was difficult to accept Grossman's premise that a successful investment banker would not only accept a job cataloguing books during his vacation, but continue to do so after being asked to stop. However, I kept an open mind and suffered through the author's absurd plot twists and assumptions.
A few of my countless problems with this book:
No private banker for a prestigious investment bank would discuss his clients with strangers.
Rare book librarians do not chew gum at work.
The rare book exper
It was... how should I put it...

Hype can make a lot of things happen, international best-sellers included.

I think it's very clever to combine the ideas of codex and codecs, homonyms are what make puns so fun. I think the premise of wanting to interweave two different story lines with the same protagonist centring on these two punny themes was an even cleverer idea.

And at first, it seemed promising.

But then it all went downhill real fast and with momentum.

As a supposedly thriller, one of its st
Codex got great professional reviews, with The New York Times comparing it and putting right next to The Name of The Rose. But when you read the "unprofessional" reviews you'll see that it bombed and was panned practically everywhere, including this site.

I disliked Grossman's The Magicians, but I decided to give him another chance since I already had the book. It was this title that made me interested in him, after all. The title caught my eye and the backcover caught my interest - a mystery in
This review originally appeared at

Codex is featured in our list of books about books.

It's a sad fact that most child prodigies sink into mediocrity by the time they reach adulthood, when everyone else catches up to them. This is the case for Edward Wozny, whose talent for chess as a pre-teen was momentous, but which fizzled as puberty beckoned. Edward's hunger to be great once more has led him to a stellar career as an investment banker, and after mere years toiling

Investment whizkid Edward is offered a prestigious transfer from NYC to London, and decides to take a couple of weeks off in between the two positions. He's asked by his employers to do one thing during this fortnight -- a quick favour for a rich client, a pair of English aristocrats. This proves to be a request to catalogue the family's ancestral collection of rare books -- a major task rather than the quick service advertised. Before he can refuse, though, he inexplicably decides to go through
I liked The Magicians and I wanted to read this to get a better sense of the author. Truthfully I like The Magicians in part - loved it on one level and disliked it on others, and there are definitely echos here of what I didn't like there.

I loved the interweaving of references to Adventure, a game I spent many hours in front of as a pre-teen. I didn't remember the game in the least until the book described it, and then it came flooding back to me. A truly hokey game by any standard, but filled
Jillian Kern
This book is something very, very close to literature, dressed in a Dan Brown-esque costume. The blurb on the inside cover is quite misleading - the general tone had me thinking I had something a lot lighter than it turned out to be (although it reads quite effortlessly.)
The character development is beautifully constructed (especially that of 'the Artiste,') but the more prominent characters fall flat. I found myself thinking that Grossman really enjoyed writing all the supporting characters, wh
Edward Wozney is hot shot investment banker who is moving to England in a couple of weeks to work at his firm's overseas branch when he is sent over to over to help one of his firm's most important clients. Once there he finds himself with the task of uncrating and organizing their personal library which was sent to America during one of the World Wars so t wouldn't be destroyed. Edward gets mixed messages, the duchess wants him to find a rare book but the duke wants him to stop, though this is ...more
The best part of this book was the highly detailed and very true-to-life descriptions of rare books, special collections and archives.

In one scene the main character, Edward, visits a fictional rare book library in Manhattan called the Chenoweth. Poor Edward is flummoxed by everything he encounters: the numerous different catalogs (books here, manuscripts there, backlog in the other place; a third of their holdings in the electronic catalog, a third on little index cards, a third uncataloged ent
Kat Hagedorn

Quite the most frustrating tale. Entirely engrossing up until the last 30 pages and then big, huge, FAIL.

First, why create a protagonist who doesn't care about anything that's presented to him? Edward isn't a slacker, but he's not anyone you should bother yourself to care about. Books? Eh. Games? Eh. Weird girl who's been helping me? Yeah, okay, I'll sleep with her, but... Eh.

Second, you made us care about this book-that-doesn't-exist. When you do that, you can't just s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie Igler
I liked it, but the ending was horrible. The story was good, and I like the way Grossman writes. This was definitely not up to par with The Magicians or The Magician King.

When I sort of gave up on this book was when Edward and Margaret announce that they are travelling to Old Forge to the library's upstate annex. I got pretty excited about it. My family has a camp in Old Forge, I've been going there since I could walk! How cool that these characters are going there! Now, I'm assuming that Gross
In that this is a tale of a modern quest for a medieval book that purports to be about the Quest for the Holy Grail, Codex is undoubtedly an Arthurian novel. We are treated to circumstantial details about a medieval codex, A Viage to the Contree of the Cimmerians by Gervase of Landford, and much about encoded messages, bookbinding and medieval manuscripts. This reveals the author’s intention to impress us with the depth of his research, and I have to say that some of the detail is fascinating, a ...more
Wow. This was incredibly pointless. It feels like it was trying to capitalize on the success of thrillers like DaVinci Code, but there's no *there* here. What's the point of finding the Codex, other than simply having it? There's no urgency to the search, especially since Edward doesn't understand anything about the text. Does it reveal a forgotten piece of history? Is it a map to untold riches? Does it contain the secret to immortality? There needs to be a purpose for finding the book (beyond " ...more
Pamela Huxtable
I found this novel mesmerizing.

Edward Wozny, young successful investment banker, finds himself with an empty schedule for the fist time in years, as he prepares to move to London. To his surprise, he fills these weeks with a freelance job, cataloging a library for a banking client. The library may(or may not) contain a secret codex- can Edward find it? Edward also becomes obsessed with an immersive qcomputer game called MOMUS.

The contrast between the high tech game and the ancient library was t
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The Sword and Laser: Has anyone read Codex by Lev Grossman? 1 35 Jul 03, 2012 06:34PM  
  • The Hidden Oasis
  • The Thirteenth Apostle
  • Equinox
  • Qumran
  • The Geographer's Library
  • The Final Reckoning
  • Ex-Libris
  • Dante's Equation
  • The Gaudi Key
  • The Jerusalem Diamond
  • The Thousand
  • The Magdalene Cipher
  • Nemesis
  • The Lost Temple
  • The Ring: The Last Knight Templar's Inheritance
  • Newton's Fire
  • The Magic Circle
  • The Crystal Skull
My novel The Magicians was a New York Times bestseller. So was the sequel, The Magician King. The third book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land, will be published in August 2014.

There's yet more information about me and my books on my website.
More about Lev Grossman...
The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) The Magician King (The Magicians, #2) The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3) The Magicians and the Magician King The Magicians Trilogy Boxed Set

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