Codex

Narrated by: Jeff Harding
Length: 11 hrs and 10 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (373 ratings)

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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.

©2005 Lev Grossman (P)2012 Random House

Critic Reviews

"A genuine treat, with its sneaky plot and richly textured storytelling. Moves so fast that readers won't realize how smart it is." ( San Francisco Chronicle)
"Fascinating, compelling, and deliciously disturbing." ( The Boston Globe)
"Takes its place on the shelf of self-referential, bibliophilic page-turners like The Name of the Rose, Possession and A Case of Curiosities, and it's as entertaining as any of them." ( The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Artificial sweetener when you expect sugar.

I read both of Grossman's Magician books, and I enjoyed and recommend those without reservation. There, he created interesting characters and your journey with them through an exciting story arcs gracefully from beginning to end.

In Codex however, the main story starts very slowly, after many minutes of defining the main character as an entitled, shallow, and barely likable guy. I developed a theory about halfway through that the author was following some sort of novelist's rulebook that contained requirements like "when describing a character's action (especially a love interest), always use exactly two adjectives; e.g. 'as she turned, her silky, raven hair fanned out in a sensuous, liquid arc before coming to rest on her slender, tanned shoulder.' " If there was a drinking game where you had to take a swig of beer every time that happened, you'd pass out by chapter 8.

The narrator's delivery is flat when reading plot, sometimes singsongy when reading descriptions (I think he noticed the author adhering to the above rule too), but very good when doing character voices.

Throughout the story I kept thinking things like 'this reminds me of Da Vinci Code' or 'this reminds me of a Neal Stephenson book.' I don't consider it a bad thing if that happens, and I kept thinking 'yeah, but I wonder where Grossman's going to go with that already proven idea...'

Unfortunately, it goes almost nowhere. I'm echoing other reviewers, but this book doesn't do much more than POINT to tasty plot potentials and only randomly does it seem to let us have so much as a bite.

The one area where we are served an unexpectedly rich treat was all the time spent describing the history of books. Had he spent more time taking us down those paths, and less time half-explaining the things that were supposedly propelling the plot and motivating the characters, I don't think I'd have felt the book so objectionable.

I haven't written many reviews, and I feel bad coming out strongly against what obviously took a ton of effort to create. This is the first time ( in many years as an avid Audible listener ) that I feel the difference between what I enjoyed and what I didn't like were so wildly out of balance.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Great story, terrible ending

What disappointed you about Codex?

The ending. At best, this book was intended as a first book in a series, because the ending is a complete let down. It's as if the author just gave up and left the characters standing where there were in the story. Because of this huge flaw, I would not recommend this book.

Any additional comments?

This is a well imagined story, with rich characters and an unconventional storyline in the world of rare books. Jeff Harding does a great job creating a distinct voice for each character. Too bad about the ending.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant entry for Grossman's "Magicians" series

A marvelous fantasy novel that seems realistic on the surface, about a young banker caught up in a search for a lost coded book as well as caught in a deeply mysterious advanced computer game in a world that he supposes is utterly normal, but the reader can see has suddenly ceased to be normal at all.

Amazon readers of the codex or ebook version of "Codex" seem as conflicted as readers of Joe Hill's "The Heart-Shaped Box," with alternate reviewers praising it or harshing it. To me, this reaction always presages a valuable reading experience: something different here, with a lot of meat on the bones.

It took reading it twice and finally listening to it before I finally "got" the whole point, and it was important to have read Grossman's brilliant Magician books in the meantime. The world of Codex only seems like ours on the surface if you resolutely deny all the inconsistencies: it's really the world of magic Grossman writes about more openly in later books. The coincidences are too impossible, the computer game is far too visually clear and the path it takes much too creepy to be separate from the main action. The Artiste looks like a gnome......that is probably because he IS one. Our hero never guesses the world isn't the normal banker's world he thinks it is, and that is perhaps the point of the book: that we can deny and deny most of what we live with, and thus fool ourselves completely.

The reading is good and the book is easier to understand read aloud, at least that was my experience. "Codex" is well worth a listen.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Underwhelming

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not really, no. By the end of book I was more annoyed than anything.

Would you ever listen to anything by Lev Grossman again?

The Magicians and The Magician King are both enjoyable and I'm interested in the continuation of that series.

What three words best describe Jeff Harding’s voice?

Not a fan.He does female voices well but he has an odd way of finishing sentences that started to grate on me after awhile.

Do you think Codex needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. There is not enough here to justify a sequel.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed The Magicians and The Magician King so I figured I would check out this one. It's got an interesting premise and, given the tone of the other two books, I expected something similar with this. I was disappointed. I'd almost say the synopsis is misleading. The game, while taking up a good portion of the narrative, isn't all that important to the plot. By the end, the game is really superfluous to the overall story arc. And there are a few tense moments where you're expecting something to happen and nothing actually does. He builds a lot of moments that should have some kind of thrilling ending but they never materialize. The two man characters sneaking around in the dark, tension builds and then... nothing. They walk away with nothing at all happening. Once or twice that's okay but he does that in just about every instance. The other shoe that's waiting to drop does not only never drop, it doesn't even exist. No more is this apparent than in the ending. It's completely anti-climatic. All the energy put in to the game story arc has no bearing on the conclusion, the codex itself is nothing what you expect and it all boils down to family politics. If you're thinking of getting this book for some sort of supernatural thriller, don't waste your time. It's not a supernatural thriller and it's certainly not fantasy. Not in any sense. At best it's an uninspired novel of the garden variety fiction novel.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A long journey to nowhere

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Provide an ending commensurate with the buildup. The author takes great pains to develop the central character, but does little to hold up an interesting story as it relates to the title. The ending is akin to driving though a small town with one stop light...if you blink you'll miss it.

One man's journey from someplace to someplace else....

What do you think your next listen will be?

Kim Harrison's new book

Have you listened to any of Jeff Harding???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Delivery was fine...no complaints

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mind Games

Lev Grossman's great writing draws the reader into this engrossing story of a young investment banker on the fast track who, at first reluctantly and then increasingly willingly, is drawn into a world where the lines between unreality/virtual reality, sanity/insanity and accurate perception/delusion blur. Although the plot revolves around a, perhaps nonexistent, ancient manuscript, comparisons with Dan Brown are misplaced. If what you are interested in is a standard thriller with dead bodies, action-figure heroes and a conclusion where all the lose ends are neatly, if implausibly, tied up, then this is not the book for you. But if you are intrigued by the enigmas of the human mind and the impossibility of fully knowing oneself, let alone others, then you will find this book a great listen.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

No-thrill Thriller, Least Curious Detective Ever

Did you like The Name of the Rose? This is just like it, but told by the janitor, who has no special knowledge or experience with history. Great research on an unusual subject was sadly wasted on a story I kept waiting to start for real, right up to the last paragraph.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Tedious

Tedious & somewhat boring. Takes forever to get to the end. Not really worth the trouble.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Terribly Boring Story in Search of a Point

This story meandered along in search of a point. I now have no curiosity about the author's other works. The narrator has a natural dramatic reading style which includes a wide variation in the volume of his voice. This may be great for someone who listens at home or with ear phones/ear buds. As a driving listener this is frustrating for me because the narrator's voice was regularly drowned out by the sound of the vehicles around me on the freeway. I finished it in the hope that it would have a surprise twist that would FINALLY cause the tale to make sense...no such luck. I would ask Audible to take it back but I am pretty sure they would not want thus stinker back!!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

groan

I???m a Lev Grossman fan. His earlier works, ???The Magicians??? and ???The Magician King???, are two of my favorite audio books. So, when I saw that recently he had a new book published I eagerly purchased it. I was disappointed.

The story is set up as a literary ???thriller???. While there is an ambiance of darkness and danger it never materializes. There are multiple twists and turns throughout the story but each twist and turn is easily anticipated. I had the story figured out less than half way into the book.

The main character is a young narcissist who postures as if he is the next best thing to James Bond???or Stephen Langdon of "DaVinci Code" fame???but who misses every telegraphed clue that Grossman so abundantly provides. The protagonist seems to be a caricature of Langdon. While Langdon rushes from one life threatening danger to another, all the time figuring out subtle clues and saving the day, as well as the beautiful girl along the way, Edward Wozny has the clues shoved in his face almost every step of the way. It is the homely but brilliant girlfriend who figures almost everything out. There is no action in the story. There appears to be no real danger. There is no confrontation with the ???bad guy???. As a literary send up of the ???thriller??? genre, I admit that it works. I give it an admiring groan, with an emphasis on the groan. However, I found the book irritating and the main character so much of a narcissist and so blind to what is going on around him that the story lost the patina of credibility. Even a good send up should keep the reader/listener engaged.

The narrator was decent.

4 people found this helpful