José Rodrigues dos Santos


O Codex 632

(Codex 632)


Codex 632 is in the buses, in the cafés, in the shopping malls, in the football stadiums – it’s everywhere. The country is following the adventures of Thomas, the academic who stumbles on a secret protected throughout the centuries: the true identity of Christopher Columbus.”

Público, Portugal

“In the world of historical scholarship, the mystery surrounding the discoverer of America and his true roots remains unsolved. Codex 632 reminds us of all the historical investigation which has yet to be conducted.”

Rádio Renascença, Portugal

“A novel perfect for those who enjoy the blending of mystery, historical personalities, riddles and codes, and ancient languages to spare.”

A Folha de São Paulo, Brazil

“It was supposed to be like The Da Vinci Code, but in fact it’s better and more interesting, as it presents readers with more proof than speculation. The historical part of the novel is amazing and accessible. Impressive.”

Jornal do Brasil, Brazil

“A plot full of historical suspense, fluidly written with humour and erudition (…) An intriguing and well-structured story that brings to the limelight an old controversy.”

Bravo, Brazil

“A most newsworthy novel on Columbus. Based on historical documents, it narrates the story of a clever expert cryptanalyst who unravels a conspiracy to keep the true identity of the great navigator forever hidden from history.”

Que Leer, Spain

“This is a novel you read with pleasure (…) How wonderful is Codex 632, the novel that talks about Columbus.”

El Correo Gallego, Spain

“A book that takes us through complex enigmas, with a plot beginning centuries ago and taking place throughout the world; this is a journey where the true identity of the discoverer of America is brought into question.”

Universal, Spain

Codex 632 is a highly intense thriller roving to Lisbon, Brazil, Jerusalem, Seville and other places in the Iberian Peninsula, on the trail of an enigma disseminated throughout the centuries by someone who, in order to retain power, chose to hide an uncomfortable truth.”

Libertà, Italy

“The author has convinced me. Christopher Columbus was not Genoese. The novel explains it with clarity and quotes true historical sources. You’ve got to read this.”

Angolo Nero, Italy

“A television journalist based in Portugal, dos Santos pours his storytelling experience into an intriguing if Byzantine exploration of codes, cultures and Christopher Columbus. Less a Brownian thriller than a speculative one, this debut novel focuses on its flawed protagonist and his dizzying search for the truth. Readers more intrigued by academic detection than global conspiracies should eat this one up. A fresh-thinking historical thriller buoyed by its hero, a man with a spinning moral compass trying to find his truth North.”

Kirkus Reviews, USA

Codex 632, by the Portuguese journalist and novelist José Rodrigues dos Santos, focuses on the mystery surrounding the origins and life of Christopher Columbus. As dos Santos tells it, we really don't know where or when the man we call Columbus was born or what his name was. He seems to have gone to great lengths to keep his past a secret. Dos Santos tells his story through a Portuguese cryptologist named Thomas Noronha. At the outset, an old scholar who was investigating Columbus suddenly dies - murdered, we know, although Noronha does not. A shadowy American foundation offers Noronha $500,000 to continue the investigation. The dead professor left behind a coded clue that must be deciphered, and after that there are ancient documents to be studied - often forgeries - and many esoteric mysteries to be explored. The novel provides much that is of interest about Columbus and the age he lived in.”

The Washington Post, USA

Codex 632, an international bestseller newly translated from Portuguese, offers a well-researched look at Christopher Columbus – who he really was and why he deliberately kept his past a secret. Author José Rodrigues Dos Santos, a Lisbon-based journalist and university lecturer, tantalizes the reader with quotes from obscure documents only seen by dedicated historians.

Similar in vein to The Da Vinci Code, the novel is layered with intrigue, international travel and scholars who stop at nothing to uncover the truth. The ciphers and ancient documents are fun.”

The Tennessean, USA

“Portugal is justly famous for many things - castles, beaches, Fatima, romantic language, exploration, fado music, cod, port, Christopher Columbus . . . back up. Christopher Columbus? Not so much? If José Rodrigues dos Santos has his way, with the publication of Codex 632: The Secret Identity of Christopher Columbus, Columbus will no longer be considered Italian, but Portuguese; in fact, a Portuguese Jew.

Who knew that a big debate on Columbus's nationality began around 1892, and forged documents were produced to back up Spanish and Italian claims? Italy won the PR battle, partly by insisting that the two competing Columbuses were the same man. But how did a lowly Genoese silk weaver become an educated navigator versed in cosmography? Or, even more difficult, marry into Portuguese nobility? Why did he write in Castilian, Latin and Portuguese, but use a translator for Tuscan or the Genoese dialect? Even more provocative are the clues pointing to his being Jewish or a Marrano, a Jew pretending to be a Christian. His signature was kabbalistic. He used astronomical tables written in Hebrew. The crew on his voyage to the New World included 40 Genoese, at a time when "Genoese" was code for Jewish. And why did he set sail in 1492? He was working for King John II, to throw Spain off the track in the competitive search for a sea route to India. The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas had divided the world between Spain and Portugal, and India was the sought-after crown jewel.

A bestseller in Portugal (where it beat out Harry Potter), Santos' book is more a novel about history and interpretation than a thriller. The codes and the mystery are a framework for discoveries, ours and the voyagers'. José Rodrigues dos Santos has written a book that fascinates and informs as well as entertains; it's also a mini-travelogue of an incredibly beautiful country.”

Shelf Awareness, USA

“The novel does an excellent job forcing the reader to question his or her own knowledge of history and everything else that we have come to know as the truth. (…) The secrets unveiled in this novel may lead us to question whether everything else we accept as fact is really pure fiction. We may never unveil the secrets of our past but, with "Codex 632," it seems as though Jose Rodrigues dos Santos is trying.”

Badger Herald, USA

“The idea behind Codex 632 is a compelling one, that Christopher Columbus had an identity unknown today, a dark past that he desperately wanted to keep hidden during his lifetime, and that he never went by the name Columbus.  With the book being backed up by historical documentation, it makes these theories all the more interesting. (…) It’s overflowing with interesting tidbits and facts.  For those looking for a work of historical mystery on a topic that has been little explored, Codex 632 may be the book for you.”

TCM Reviews, USA

“There are no murders, little profanity, and only hints of sex, but the drama builds as the main character in this novel attempts to unravel a six-century-old question: where did Christopher Columbus come from? (…) This will appeal to those who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and anyone who likes intriguing offbeat mysteries: it's a great story with a blockbuster ending.”

Kliatt, USA

“José Rodrigues dos Santos (...) is one of the heavyweights of lusophone literature.”

Historia, France