CODEX by Lev Grossman


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Computer games, medieval texts, a corrupt duchess, and library arcana derail a young investment banker from the fast track.

Awfully young meritocratic Yale alum Edward Wozny, having just cleared his New York desk in order to take on a dream assignment in London, accidentally, or perhaps not, encounters the Duke and Duchess of Bowmry as they are decamping from their New York residence. In the weird way of the computer game that follows Edward through his forthcoming adventures, the Bowmrys (family name: Went) are clients of Edward’s employers and owners of a fabulous flat at the top of an otherwise tatty building, an apartment Edward comes to know when his employers inform him that he is to do a bibliosearch for their lordly clients who, when their library was shipped to the States to escape the Nazis, lost track of A Viage to the Contree of the Cimmerians, a book that might not actually exist, or, if it does exist, might be a fake. Edward, under whose Hugo Boss suit beats the heart of the juvenile chess prodigy who burned out at puberty, takes on the quest, enlisting the help of Margaret Napier, a quietly sexy and terribly serious medieval scholar he meets in the library where he’s gone to research the author of the Viage. In his off-hours, when he should be packing for London, Edward ineptly follows the paths of MOMUS, a computer game full of subtle parallels to Edward’s life and the plot of the Viage. Sleep-deprived, confused, but utterly absorbed in his quests, Edward is unwilling to be called off when ordered to quit by the Duke’s emissaries. He is, after all, getting conflicting orders from the very sexy and considerably younger duchess. As in cyberfantasy, there are side trips and narrow escapes and dwarfish types with helpful tips, and if Time book critic Grossman (Warp, 1997) weren’t so smooth and dry, one might think about hitting esc.

Sophisticated, scholarly fun and games.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-15-101066-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2004


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