Codex by Lev Grossman

A brief entry — I just finished reading Lev Grossman’s second novel Codex — the one he wrote before beginning the Magicians trilogy.

It’s plot is an interesting, if not terribly new idea — a quest for secret knowledge hidden away in some manner, this time in the form of a medieval book that may or may not exist.  It throws in a video game and nostalgic references to an old Atari 2600 game called Adventure.  It feels very Lev Grossman-esque, even if in many ways a beta version of what he is finally able to achieve in the Magicians trilogy.

Even still there are wonderful qualities to this book under its immediate surface — the life of quiet desperation that purported protagonist Edward inadvertently rebels against and his behavior that has aspects of a mental and emotional breakdown.  It really feels at time that this book wants to be more about that interior landscape of life choices but needs to return to the plot and building its suspense and moving things forward.  It also ultimately feels like it focused on the wrong protagonist.  The scholarly Margaret’s story is seen in bits and pieces — afterall she is mostly there to advance the plot and a tool to inform the readers via her guiding of Edward through the world of ancient books.  Still she is the one who is expert, the one who has lost sight of her goal and finds through the book a way to realize that goal and ultimately she is the one who makes the most interesting choice at the end of the book.  Unfortunately too much of that is off-stage and we never really get a chance to explore this world entirely from her point of view.

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