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3.02  ·  Rating details ·  6,992 ratings  ·  894 reviews
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, Edwa ...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published May 2nd 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,992 ratings  ·  894 reviews

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Jenny Bannock
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Irina Dumitrescu
Jul 03, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 b
Jan 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is by far the worst book I've ever read... I'm not an expert and I'm really sorry but this was a huge disappointment. At first it seemed quite promising. The first chapters were fast paced and quite intriguing I have to admit. However, there is nothing worse than a book which gets more and more boring as the story unfolds. It should be the other way around. When I finally made it to the last chapters I gradually regained my interest only find out that I had just read THE WORST ENDING EVEEEE ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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 o
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 eccentric doorman ...more
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—and s ...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
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 involving a medieval m
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Michelle Morrell
Jul 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: x-read-2014
Written before his wildly acclaimed Magician series, I can tell this is an earlier attempt at a novel. While Grossman spins 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; specifically, to watch for a "certain book" rumored to be real and potentially in their stacks.

This of course leads to intrig
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I've started watching The Magicians on Neftlix, a tv show based on a strikingly derivative Grossman's book the appropriates ideas with kleptomaniacal glee. I didn't care for the book originally despite loving the theme of magic, this wasn't an inspired choice. But it made me think of Codex, the book Grossman wrote before The Magicians fame, so I checked it out. Just as much as I love magic, I love a good bibliomystery and as far as bibliomysteries go this was pretty decent. Once again Grossma ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Codex has a very interesting premise - a long lost manuscript that holds a secret and good guys and bad guys going after it. Sure, it's been done before but I'm always up for more stories like this.

But. . . .

Ultimately unsatisfying.

It is going to be very hard for me to review this book without spoilers, so -

(view spoiler) ...more
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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, w
Trixie Fontaine
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 di
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
When you need a "plane book" -- you know, something to keep you entertained on those budget flights with no TV screens -- you need Engaging. None of this academic crap -- ya girl wants brain candy. I wanna finish that shit by the time I land.

Codex is probably the best plane book I've ever read. Engaging in spades -- quick-paced, not overly serious, but layered enough to keep interest and break formula. I keep finding myself reading these biblio-mysteries (will they find the missing manuscri/>
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
On audiobook. This novel begins with an atticful of books that were hurriedly shipped from their great English house to NYC when it looked like Nazi Germany would be taking over Great Britain. They've been sitting, still in their crates, since then, and it will be Edward, this novel's main character, who has the job of unpacking and cataloging them. Oh yeah, and he should keep an eye out for a very rare book by someone named Gervaise.

That's all it took. I was deep into this book, a little thril
Loyola University Chicago Libraries
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beth
This book started out as a 5-star page-turner and eventually downgraded itself to a 4, but I'd recommend it just the same. The rest of the book can't live up to the promise of the first few chapters, and the ending is ... unsatisfying. But the pacing is excellent, and bookworms and librarians alike will enjoy the research and detail that Grossman has put into the world of rare books, preservation, and cataloging. There have been a lot of these DaVinci Code-esque books written as of late, involvi ...more
This is a book about books. There are scenes in silent libraries where characters in kid gloves search for lost manuscripts and there are wonderful descriptions of the production of ancient codices and the arcane materials used in their bindings. Did you know that the most expensive and prized paper derived from the skin of an aborted calf fetus? Can you remember what a palimpsest is, or have you forgotten, even though you know you've looked it up multiple times in the past?

Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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.

Jason Pettus
Logging the last of my 2017 reads today so that they'll count towards this year's Reading Challenge totals. Full review coming in early 2018.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wish that I could have the time that I spent reading this book back.
Apr 01, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 unc
_Codex_ came highly recommended to me, so I was eager to delve right into the story. I thought it started out pretty good with the mysterious aristocrats, their rare book library, and the medieval scholarly tie-ins. It never quite gained the momentum that I was hoping for, but it kept me reading page after page. I liked Margaret's character, and really appreciated the things that she brought to the story. However, I thought the whole sub-plot with the computer game, MOMUS, was a little strange, ...more
Jillian Kern
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 characte
Aug 01, 2011 added it
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
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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.

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“...he imagined another life for himself as one of these silent scholars, buried in his research like a guinea pig in its wood shavings, nibbling away steadily after some arcane piece of knowledge in the hope of making an addition, however imperceptible, to the collective pile.” 3 likes
“The effect was of somebody reluctantly reading a prepared statement off a teleprompter, a statement prepared by somebody against whom she had a bitter and long-standing grudge. He considered the possibility that she might be clinically depressed.” 0 likes
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