The Combat Codes – Review

Author – Alexander Darwin
Pages – 408

A unique sci-fi that poses some interesting ideas and engaging action sequences.

The Combat Codes is a great martial arts themed sci-fi that poses questions and thought provoking ideas. It’s also pretty dissimilar to any other books I’ve read, carving out its own little niche in my reading history and possibly within the genre itself.

A few fellow bloggers and readers who are into martial arts I’ve seen comment on this book concluded that it’s one of, if not the best book they’ve read in terms of how these martial arts action sequences are handled.

I’m going to be completely honest and admit that I don’t have the background experience or interest in hand to hand combat to appreciate this to the extent that maybe I could have done. You can feel the author’s passion and knowledge on this shine through which makes this side of things enjoyable to read even if you’re not usually too bothered. I certainly get the impression that readers who do have this interest though will see that extra glow that can take a great book to a favourite read.

Fortunately, I can tell you that an interest in martial arts isn’t a prerequisite to enjoying this book, with plenty of other elements to enjoy. It is a very intriguing, layered dystopian sci-fi read that would no doubt be popular if adapted for the big screen.

One trope I always like is the returning badass, past their best but still making their way in the world – and in this case mentoring our main character, Cego. That aging badass is Murray, a grizzled Grievar veteran I really enjoyed.

What is a Grievar?

“A Grievar shall not accumulate land, wealth, servants, or worldly possessions beyond what is necessary for survival. In the act of relinquishing all but dedication to martial prowess, a Grievar will become unburdened, free to attack and defend without hesitation.”

Grievar are fighters bred to excel in the Lyceum (the fighting arena) as Grievar Knights. They fight so the rest shall not have to – why have wars resulting in thousands of deaths, when a representative from each side can end the dispute instead?

It’s a concept I like and the sci-fi aspects were really interesting, especially the biometrics shown during the fights which show the crowd a multitude of different pieces of information such as the remaining health, blood pressure, heart rate etc.

The circles too, are a great concept. Grievars around the world fight in different types of circles; depending on what they’re made of they have different influences on the fighters. Knowing how to use this influence is an essential part of gaining the upper hand over an opponent.

Those with more money can of course provide training in multiple different elemental circles, giving a distinct advantage to their fighters.

I can’t reveal some of the best parts, which are revealed as the book progresses because spoilers, but have to say where this book excelled for me were the dystopian sci-fi elements which felt really unique and immersive. Other readers will point to the martial arts action or the training school aspects, which are equally enjoyable!

I feel like if you’re partial to any one of these three things (dystopian sci-fi, martial arts, training school tropes) you will really enjoy this.

Thankyou to the author Alexander Darwin for my audible code in exchange for this honest review, much appreciated!

Also… Check out the new cover below, I absolutely love it. Thanks for reading.


“We fight, so the rest shall not have to.”

In a world where single combat determines the fate of nations, the Grievar fight so that the rest can remain at peace.

Cego is a mysterious Grievar boy forced to fight his way out of the slave Circles into the world’s most prestigious combat school.

At the Lyceum, Cego will learn a variety of martial arts from eclectic teachers, develop deep bonds of friendship and fight against contentious rivals to climb the school’s rankings.

But, Cego will find far more than combat studies at the Lyceum. He will find the mystery of his past unraveled by forces greater than he could ever imagine.


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