In Codex, Edward Wozny, a young, dissatisfied investment banker, becomes involved with a wealthy client’s ancient library. Although he knows nothing whatsoever about books or libraries, ancient or otherwise, he is asked to search for the Codex, a manuscript hundreds of years old that, if it exists at all, may contain a volatile secret.
Simultaneously, Edward becomes obsessed with a video game in which he finds eerie, inexplicable echoes of his search for the Codex. The most interesting message of the book is the unchanging nature of gamesmanship. The sort of mind capable of illuminating a beautiful manuscript in which a heartbreaking message is hidden, designs computer games in our era, full of traps and challenges. Edward’s peculiar assignment and his gaming adventures reflect each other very cleverly, playing off each other and moving the story along at a quick pace.
Codex might make a better game than a novel. The characters are thin, with little chemistry between them and little effort made to flesh them out, like the two-dimensional characters found in video games. The prickly medieval scholar/possible love interest who helps Edward in his search is described over and over again by her “long, elegant swoop of a nose,” and it’s hard to understand why anyone, even a fabulously wealthy eccentric, would hire Edward, whose job and personality are so irrelevant to the crucial task at hand. The end is abrupt and disappointing; readers might find themselves rifling through the blank endpapers, looking for the rest of it.