Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Codex by Lev Grossman

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
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, Edward is determined to solve the mystery of the codex-to understand its significance to his wealthy clients, and to decipher the seeming parallels between the legend of the codex and an obsessive role-playing computer game that has absorbed him in the dark hours of the night.
The chilling resolution brings together the medieval and the modern aspects of the plot in a twist worthy of earning comparisons to novels by William Gibson and Dan Brown, not to mention those by A. S. Byatt and Umberto Eco. Lev Grossman's Codex is a thriller of the highest order.

Lev Grossman is also the author of The Magician series: The Magicians and The Magician King (both of which I've listened to and reviewed here). Newly released is Mr Grossman's third novel Codex. Codex in this case referring to ancient and medieval books (see Wiki here).

I found Codex to be an enjoyable listen, working through the novel in the course of a long weekend. There's a Dan Brown quality to this story - there are historical references twisted into modern day puzzles: knights of the round table, the rose line, the search for the Holy Grail minus the though lacking the 'sangreal' pedigree. Codex does lack the Brown-esque 'are they going to kill the main character' drama.

The plot itself is interesting even if a bit derivative and the characters are likable enough with a decent amount of depth. I don't think I'd like Edward in real life - the self-adsorbed arrogant nature that he exudes. Margaret the bookish library babe that he naturally expects to fall for him above and beyond her own career. Yes Edward, you are all that and a bag of chips :-)

All that being said, I didn't have any pangs of regret putting the book down for a day or when I arrived at a destination, but it was engaging enough to listen to while I ran my training intervals. The latter is going to be my new book measurement - was it interesting enough to listen to while running intervals on the treadmill (my least favorite thing to do - I'd much rather set one speed and just clip-clop along for 30-45 or 60 minutes).

A new classic? I doubt it. A book to movie plot? Absolutely - I can totally see Codex coming to a theatre near you staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Emma Watson (as Margaret).

Codex was written by Lev Grossman and published by Random House Audio. Codex is narrated by Jeff Harding. Codex has a runtime of 11 hours 10 minutes and an audible release date of 02/07/2012.

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