Ancient prophecy, virtual apocalypse
Edward Wozny is an ambitious young investment banker with two weeks to kill until he's transferred from New York City to England to fill a coveted position in the bank's London headquarters. Before he leaves, however, the powerful firm has one last request: he must help one of the company's most important clients, the Duke and Duchess of Bowmry, organize a personal library of rare books. At first, Edward is annoyed at being shanghaied into performing such a tedious task on his vacation, but once he arrives at the clients' expensive Manhattan digs, his resentment turns to intrigue. Hidden in the attic of the vine-covered limestone townhouse are unopened crates of ancient books some of which date from before the 16th century. Edward is told that the duchess wants him to covertly look for a legendary medieval codex authored by a minor literary figure, Gervace of Langford. Edward's quest for the mysterious codex soon turns obsessive, and his impending job in London is almost forgotten as he becomes entangled in the codex's shadowy purpose as well as the intrigue surrounding the tumultuous relationship between the duke and duchess. While searching for the codex in a rare book repository, Edward meets and enlists the help of Margaret Napier, a Columbia grad student who is a "cross between Stephen Hawking and Nancy Drew." But is it mere coincidence that her dissertation is on the works of Gervace of Langford? As Edward's obsession with the codex grows, so does his fixation with a highly addictive interactive computer game. When he finds shocking parallels between the game and secrets associated with the codex, his mundane investment banker existence is turned upside down. Lev Grossman, a book critic for Time magazine, has made the cerebral, stylish Codex one of those rare novels that transcend categorization: it is part mystery, part thriller, part romance and part literary history. No matter where this book is eventually shelved, it should and undoubtedly will be sought out by discerning readers everywhere. Paul Goat Allen is a freelance editor and writer in Syracuse, New York.