The Combat Codes (Paperback)
Other Books in Series
This is book number 1 in the The Combat Codes series.
In a world where battle-hardened warriors determine the fate of empires, war-ravaged nations seek out a new champion in the first book of a thrilling science fantasy trilogy: "that rare book that fully satisfies me as an action fan" (Fonda Lee, author of Jade City).
"A book about warriors written by a master of the martial arts, and the mastery shows." – Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons
In a world long ago ravaged by war, the nations have sworn an armistice never to use weapons of mass destruction again. Instead, highly-skilled warriors known as Grievar Knights represent their nations’ interests in brutal hand-to-hand combat.
Murray Pearson was once a famed Knight until he suffered a loss that crippled his homeland — but now he’s on the hunt to discover the next champion.
In underground and ruthless combat rings, an orphaned boy called Cego is making a name for himself. Murray believes Cego has what it takes to thrive in the world's most prestigious combat academy – but first, Cego must prove himself in the vicious arenas of the underworld. And survival isn’t guaranteed.
"Darwin writes violence with the rhythm and surprise of a well-executed sonnet, wedding the smooth grace of choreography with the unflinching brutality of fists breaking bone. The fights are mesmerizing, layered like fascia, twitching and flexing and propelling the story toward a conclusion that both satisfies and opens the door to the next volume." – The New York Times
"Bare-knuckle brilliance." – Jackson Ford, author of The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind
About the Author
Alexander Darwin is a second generation Vietnamese-Jewish-American author living in Boston with his wife and three daughters. Outside of writing, he teaches and trains martial arts (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). He’s inspired by old-school Hong Kong action flicks, jRPGs, underdog stories and bibimbap bowls.
"As soon as someone throws a punch, the book shines. Darwin writes violence with the rhythm and surprise of a well-executed sonnet, wedding the smooth grace of choreography with the unflinching brutality of fists breaking bone. The fights are mesmerizing, layered like fascia, twitching and flexing and propelling the story toward a conclusion that both satisfies and opens the door to the next volume."—New York Times
“With surprising depth and touching relationships, this debut packs a punch and sets up a fascinating foundation for the rest of the series. Great for fans of Will Wight.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Darwin skillfully deploys his expertise in this impressive debut and series launch ... [He's] adept at making blow-by-blow descriptions of bouts vivid and engaging. This is a perfect setup for the next volume and will especially appeal to fans of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series."—Publishers Weekly
"This dark tale of martial arts and ancient Codes in a fallen world will captivate readers who crave action."—Kirkus
"Brimming with equal parts brutality and heart, Darwin's novel presents a world where the fate of society rests in the hands of a chosen few. This fast-paced, action-packed novel is the first of a promising trilogy that will be a big hit with fans of martial art movies and MMA fights."—Booklist
"Excellent fight sequences. [Darwin's] evocative and visceral descriptions not only deliver excitement and suspense in this underdog story, they build your understanding of the characters through how they fight — in a very similar way to Hong Kong movies."—Polygon
"A story filled with action, intrigue, and a heart of gold ... one of the more unique science fiction books I’ve read in quite a while."—Lightspeed
"The Combat Codes delivers a knock-out start to Alexander Darwin’s science fantasy series... a no-brainer for fans of book series like The Green Bone Saga or shows and movies like Cobra Kai and Rocky."—Winter Is Coming
"The Combat Codes is manna from heaven for martial arts enthusiasts, who will enjoy the breathtakingly realistic fight scenes and philosophical discussions on the importance of martial arts."—Grimdark Magazine
"An interesting mashup of sci-fi and fantasy that also reads like a love letter to martial arts."—BiblioSanctum
"The Combat Codes brilliantly combines martial arts with the genres of sci-fi AND fantasy in an explosion of action and self discovery. Imagine if Rocky, Ender’s Game, and The Karate Kid were shoved into a mixer and shaken up. The Combat Codes would be close to what you’d find inside."—FanFiAddict
“A brutal and relentless science fantasy martial arts extravaganza, set in a world where the fate of nations rests on the perfect counterpunch or rear naked choke. The Combat Codes is that rare book that fully satisfies me as an action fan.” —Fonda Lee, author of Jade City
"The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin is a chimera blending Science Fiction and Fantasy to tell a vividly-realized tale both focused and sprawling. It’s a book about warriors written by a master of the martial arts, and the mastery shows. In its pages, expect to explore power, politics, and brutal violence, but I repeat myself."—Evan Winter, author of The Rage of Dragons
"This book kicks ass--literally and literarily!" —Richard Swan, author of The Justice of Kings
"If Mike Tyson wrote a scifi novel (and could write like he threw a right hook) it would read a little like The Combat Codes. Bare-knuckle brilliance."—Jackson Ford author of The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind
"A masterclass in action, set against a complex science fantasy world."—Sunyi Dean, author of The Book Eaters
"The Combat Codes is combat as it was meant to be written: raw but elegant, a blend of the poet's wordsmithing and the martial art master's technical expertise. Better yet, it's a fun, heartfelt story about the underprivileged banding together to rise up. A fantastic reading experience."
—Moses Ose Utomi, author of The Lies of Ajungo
"The Combat Codes is a well-paced sci-fi brimming with action, brutality, thoughtfulness and heart. From ruthless underworld to storm-harried, glistening academy, every fight is clear and visceral, and I couldn’t help but be ensnared by the mystery and tension woven throughout. I can’t wait for the next chapter in Cego’s journey!"—H.M. Long, author of Hall of Smoke
"The Combat Codes is a perfectly balanced cocktail of high-octane action, enthralling mystery, and genuine heart. Fans of Geralt and Ciri or the Hound and Arya will adore the dynamic between Murray and Cego, and fans of badass fight scenes will find plenty to love in these pages. A gritty, fully-realized world sets the stage for lovable (and hateable) characters, heart-pounding action, and twists that literally had my jaw dropping. Readers won't want to miss this one!"
—M. J. Kuhn, author of Among Thieves
"A deliciously brutal, back-alley brawl of a novel. Darwin writes his story with broken teeth and bloodied fists with an authenticity that speaks volumes about his experience as a fighter. If you like action, this is a must-read."—Jeremy Szal, author of Stormblood
"A refreshingly unique take on magic academy epic fantasy. The action is brutal. Fast paced and compelling.”—Rob J. Hayes, author of Never Die
"The Combat Codes is a great read for any fan of realistic martial arts fiction. The integration of a compelling sci-fi / fantasy plot and true-to-life martial arts action make for a unique story that any student of warfare is sure to enjoy."
—Ryan Hall, UFC Fighter
"The Combat Codes was a fantastic read that takes you along the martial arts path of self-discovery. The storyline, training, fights and philosophy in the book made it highly enjoyable. Whether you are a martial artist, fan, or just an SFF reader, this book will be a lot of fun." —Kenny Florian, MMA Commentator & Ex-UFC Fighter