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Publisher's Summary

We fight, so the rest shall not have to.

This is the first verse of the Combat Codes, the mantra of Grievar-kin. They are the reason the world is at peace, the reason the Endless Wars have finally ceased.

Disputes between nations are now resolved solely within the steel circumference of the Circle, where Grievars square off in hand-to-hand combat, to the death. The surviving nation takes the dispute bounty: lands, resources, slaves, and pride.

But given the stakes, things are never so simple. Nations have developed Grievar Scout programs to produce the best fighters. Some round up prospective kids and pit them against each other in slave Circles to discover the strongest. And certain nations provide illicit "enhancements" to their Grievars to give them an edge - an act explicitly forbidden by the Combat Codes.

Murray is a washed up Grievar Scout who is sick of buying broken kids from the slave Circles. He’s sick of training them to become skilled combatants, only to watch them break again. He’s sick of reporting his failures as a Scout to men who don’t have the guts to stand in the Circles themselves.

Cego is a boy who doesn’t understand why he’s fighting. He doesn't understand the grueling training sessions he's forced to endure every day. He doesn’t understand why they scream for blood when he steps into the Circle. The one thing Cego does understand is hand-to-hand combat. He was born to fight.

Cego is sent down an unlikely path at Murray’s side, paved with fierce competition at the world’s most prestigious combat school along with the answers to his own mysterious past.

©2016 Insight Forge (P)2019 Insight Forge

What listeners say about The Combat Codes

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  • TrustedReviewerFTW
  • 24-01-2020

Superb World Building and Authentic Combat

First off, this isn’t LitRPG it is a wuxia/fantasy/martial arts story. Even though it isn’t LitRPG it will be entertaining to LitRPG fans. From what I can tell from Amazon and Audible this is Mr. Darwin’s first novel and he did an impressive job. The world-building is very well done and you will feel like you are a part of this story right from the start. There are a lot of fleshed-out characters. The prose is very well done. I am not an expert at writing, but this is very good writing in my opinion.

The main appeal for many here and for me at least is the action and martial arts fighting. It is very good and I was highly entertained. You can tell that this author really knows what he is talking about here. Mr. Darwin is a black belt in jiu jit su and I am pretty sure he is an instructor, I think I read that somewhere. It shows here, the fighting feels very authentic and a lot of people are really going to like that. I know that I did. The author also does well mixing SciFi/fantasy elements within the martial arts.

This is my first experience with this narrator. He was amazing. Clear and smooth, and very distinctive voicing. I look forward to listening to him again.

All in all, this entire book had me entertained from start to finish. It was a good palette cleanser from some of the novels I had been reading recently. I think if you are a fan of MMA and books like Cradle you will really dig this novel.
8.2 out of 10 from me.

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  • Lukasz
  • 08-07-2020

Great

“We fight, so the rest shall not have to.”
The Combat Codes is set in a dystopian society where one-on-one, MMA style combat replaced war. It blends fantasy, sci-fi, cyberpunk, martial arts, and more.
Murray Pearson, a former Grievar champion, works as a scout. While looking for potential recruits in the slave circles, he spots an adolescent boy, Cego, with remarkable martial skills and honorable attitude. He introduces him to the Lyceum where promising teenagers learn martial techniques and compete with each other.
There’s much more to the story, but revealing it would spoil things for you. The book plays with the tropes (magic school, chosen one, master/apprentice) and while it doesn’t spin them around, it avoids obvious twists. It contains plenty of well-written and well-choreographed hand to hand battles. Some of them are brutal and graphic, but never gratuitously.
The fights take place in circles made of “alloys” that influence fighters in unique ways. A great and well-executed concept. The government uses neurotech to enhance their fighters, but their machinations may run even deeper. I would say Darwin succeeded at connecting Cego’s journey of self-discovery with a much more complex plot of interplanetary politics and balance of power.
Despite young age, Cego acts like a wise adult with plenty of life-experience. He’s competent, honorable, and acceptably special. His teammates/enemies play well-known roles present in most magic/fight school setting (a bully, a mannered nobleman, good-natured bag of muscles, etc.). Most of them are memorable and well-rounded (it’s impossible to dislike Dozer or Abel); only Shiar, the bully, suffers from a profound lack of depth. He’s, basically, a caricature of a mean and arrogant douchebag.
I applaud Darwin’s approach to structuring scenes - Cego’s plans often end in a disaster, and it keeps things exciting. He faces all possible adversities (physical and emotional injuries, terrifying discoveries, threat to him and those close to him), and reacts accordingly to get out of a jam. It also means the story ends in a cliffhanger, but not of the type that would make you furious. Quite the opposite.
“We fight neither to inflict pain nor prolong suffering. We fight neither to mollify anger nor to satisfy vendetta. We fight neither to accumulate wealth nor to promote social standing. We fight so that the rest shall not have to.”
The Combat Codes draws abundantly from martial arts movies and it embraces both awesome and cheesy staples of the genre. I had great fun reading it and found it exciting throughout. A must for fans of well-paced and mindful martial arts stories.

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  • Jason Talley
  • 11-01-2020

Strong story, rich world building, good characters

First, I was gifted a copy of the audio book of this title by the author. I'm writing this review of my own volition.

In a nutshell, this is a martial arts/Sci-fi/fantasy story. Yeah, that's a lot and I'd be a bit leery of such a description myself. But with that said, this book is the real deal. It is REALLY good. There's is some top level worldbuilding going on. Food, tattoos, cultural values, world history, the author has put a lot of thought into this world and it really shows.

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" is what kept popping into my mind as I listened. The similarities are really in the vibe of things more than the details of the worlds. As well as the level of richness in the world. Good, good stuff.

The author is also a martial artist, and that makes the fights feel wonderfully real. I'm not into that sort of thing myself and tend to get bored by fight scenes that take a long time. Here I understand what was going at all times and was really drawn in.

I'm not normally an audio book guy, but this was a very good job. No complaints. Narrator did an excellent job.

The story itself has good twists and turns. More than once I thought I knew what was going to happen only to be proven wrong and have something more interesting happen. Bravo! The story also has an excellent balance of action, story, and character. Also, characters get well-drawn, but not excessive physical descriptions. Not having even a basic description of characters drives me up the wall, so it was good seeing that averted.

Now let's talk downsides. I don't have a lot here, but there were a few things. One, the main rulers of this world are pronounced like "day-myo." I would really like to see how this word was written out. Obviously it's linked to the word "daimyo." But the weird pronunciation threw me off every time.

We also have a character called Knees with a rather...interesting accent. Knees is a good character, but characters with funky accents get old quick for me, so I did get a bit annoyed. It was never as bad as some of the Scottish accents on dwarves I've seen in some fantasy stories, so there's that.

The "mini-boss" named Shire didn't have any depth to him. Even the gangster early in the book wasn't totally wrong in that he did do SOME good in the world. Shire is just kung fu Draco Malfoy, but with no major facets to his character beyond being a sadistic, snobby jerk.

Honestly, the thing that bugged me the most were two minor characters named Masa and Mune. I kept thinking, "Is that supposed to be cute or something?" I know my Japanese history, currently live in Japan, and have played a load of "Final Fantasy." I get what 'Masamune' is referencing. Stuff like that seems like something I'd see from Team Rocket in the Japanese version of a Pokemon game.

So one bad name gag aside, this is a very good book. If you're after more stuff like Will Wight's "Cradle" this should be on your list. The book form is on Kindle Unlimited, BTW.

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  • R. Jernigan
  • 29-01-2021

Why do we fight, again?

I lost count after the first dozen times this work repeated its "we fight so that the others will not have to" line. After a *dozen*. It's like the author wanted to drop some mystical charm on us, but was afraid we'd miss it and so had to grind it into us over and over.

So: I listened to this book so that you would not have to.

There are no characters here that I liked at all: each and every one was completely predictable and one-dimensional. No characters demonstrated any kind of growth during the work, except one who then died. The plot twists were nothing of the sort, as I'd picked them out chapters in advance.

It's not terrible, and there's some promise of world-building for a broader story line. But nothing in here made me really want to get more books in the saga to find out.

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  • Kamm Famm
  • 06-06-2020

Great hand to hand combat scenes!

Great hand to hand combat scenes! it's a unique take on fantasy and distopian worlds. I loved it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-04-2020

amazing story!

loves it. the fighting discussed in this book was amazingly written and well thought through before publishing. the world that the writer has created brings you in and builds as the story grows is nothing short of amazing. I hope for a second book. I highly recommend for other martial enthusiasts or scifi fans.

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  • jmil
  • 05-03-2020

Great world-buildin and hand-to-hand combat

The book is very enjoyable and tells it's story without too much filler or slow portions. The combat itself is very well detailed without bogging down the pace and giving a good picture of the action. If you enjoy mixed martial arts or a good fantasy/soft scifi story, this won't let you down.

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  • Tyrel Comeau
  • 11-02-2020

the squeak

I loved the world and cant wait for the next installment. The squeak or squeal was too loud and it is honestly my gripe.

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  • d
  • 07-02-2021

Great fun

A slow burner but worth it for the end. I loved the technicality of the martial arts in this. Brilliant.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 21-06-2020

Truly enjoyed the book 4 stars

Good book to listen if you want a break from litrpg or gamelit. Great characters and Amazing story line are enough to listen and enjoy this book.

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