by Kim Stanley Robinson
Is this going to be the week of abandoned books? I really made an effort to finish this one. I got to page 354 before it became tedious and I couldn't continue. The Years of Rice and Salt is an alternative history, covering over 600 years. It starts in the 1400's, when the Black Plague wipes out over 90% of the European population. Thus, in the chapters that follow, Christianity is a small minority, Chinese and Muslim powers dominate the world and discover the Americas. The story is told through several characters who are continually re-incarnated through the centuries, always having the same basic personality: one is a revolutionary prone to violent action, one a philosophical nurturing-type, one an inquiring intellectual... If anything, this book gave me a much better picture of the concept of reincarnation than The Reincarnationist did. There was also a strong sense of rebellion against the gods, which I found curious (it made me think of the His Dark Materials books). Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with all the various religions represented in the book: Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. There were so many cultural and religious terms I didn't recognize that I lost much of the meaning. Similarly, I'm not too strong on history, and this book covers so much that I couldn't appreciate the subtle differences between reality and invented historical events.
Having recently read Pastwatch, I found the sections dealing with discovery of the Americas an interesting comparative. I also like another part where one of the characters was reincarnated as a tiger. But by the time I got through those 350 pages, the plot was really dragging and I had lost interest in what any of the characters were experiencing.
Abandoned ...0/5... Published: 2002, 658 pages