The Combat Codes

Hachette Audio. (The Combat Codes, Bk. 1). Jun. 2023. 15:01 hrs. ISBN 9781668622155. $31.99. SF
Darwin’s fast-paced, heartfelt debut asks, “Why do we fight?” In his imagined world, where highly trained Grievar knights engage in hand-to-hand combat to settle national conflicts, the answer is, “We fight so the rest shall not have to.” Murray Pearson is a scout for the Grievars, seeking new talent who can join the ranks of the knights and uphold their code of honor. When Murray sees Cego, an orphan from the gritty Underground City, defeating a Grievar knight, he knows that Cego may have a chance of surviving the elite Lyceum combat school and becoming a first-level warrior. Narrator Donald Chang provides compelling portraits of Murray and Cego, who emerge as fully developed individuals with intriguing backstories. Chang skillfully conveys the characters’ range of emotions, from grief to terror, while providing perfectly paced descriptions of action scenes.
VERDICT Chang’s stellar performance and Darwin’s captivating story, mixing martial arts, dystopian science fiction, and fantasy, make for a top-notch listen. A thrilling series starter, highly recommended for fans of Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” books.
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