When Thomas Noronha, a professor of history and an expert cryptographer, is called upon to finish an unresolved investigation involving an aged scholar who is found mysteriously dead in his hotel room, his life takes several unexpected and dramatic turns. As Thomas slowly begins to unravel the cryptograms and enigmas that shroud the old professor's work, he finds a code that could possibly change the course of historical scholarship:
Moloc Ninundia Omastoos
In his quest to decipher this mysterious code, Thomas travels around the world from Lisbon to Rio, New York, and Jerusalem. He quickly immerses himself in the fascinating history of the discovery of the Americas, and the one enigma that no historian has ever been able to solve: the true identity of Christopher Columbus.
Mesmerizing in the way in which it reinterprets history most have come to regard as fact, "Codex 632" reveals what could be one of the greatest historical misinterpretations of all time.
I really enjoy books about historical mysteries. Columbus origins may, or may not, be a mystery and I love books that focus on different and original theories. I have to confess, though, that I had this book in the TBR pile for 6 years and only recently did I decide to read it.
The author, Jose Rodrigues dos Santos, is a well known journalist and I have no doubt that many people have picked this one up just because of that. My mother read it and some friends did too but their reviews were nothing exciting and I hesitated till now to try it.
I thought the mystery of Columbus origins was well presented. The story is told in an engaging way and I was really curious to find out how the main character was going to find the proof he needed to prove his theory. I actually liked the theory. I'm not an expert on Columbus and his origins but the possibilities explored here did not seem too outrageous or over the top.
However I did have a problem with the main character and how he is written. The bit about his private life did not make me feel I knew him better and what I knew of him I didn't like. I found the writing as a whole a bit weak, it seemed at times a caricature of how we might speak. He also makes a point of explaining things that I believe to be common knowledge so it felt a bit condescending of him and that really put me off...
It seems obvious that Rodrigues dos Santos did a huge amount of research not only on Columbus but of history in general so he could mention all the titles he does but then he lacks some the appropriate knowledge about each one - for instance in a particular scene the history professor is looking at a book by Samuel Noah Kramer in a bookshelf and wishing he had it in his library. That is not a particularly hard to find book and me and my colleagues all bought it during our first year at the University, one would think the professor would have a copy of it since his first year too...
The book follows closely the Da Vinci Code structure and while that didn't bother me too much, I can see it might influence some people to like or dislike it. Will I read more by Rodrigues dos Santos? I might do it if the theme is one that appeals to me. If I decide to give him another chance it definitely won't be for his writing...
This counts for the Portuguese Historical Fiction Challenge