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The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

Review by Songbook

The Place:

Planet Earth

The Premise:

What if the 14th cent plague had had a death rate of 99%? How would history be different without Christianity?

The Characters:

The book takes the idea that when the new age (this is some character's comment in the early 14th century, just to put time in perspective) human souls were sent out in cadres (called jati). The book centers on the trials and rebirths of 2-3 of one jati as they live, die, look for each other, improve life on the planet and in the afterlife, then die and cope with the current beliefs of what the afterlife is. Who is whom isn't blatantly pointed out (well, ok, once or twice) until you reach the final chapter of a section.


I loved the concept. I did appreciate the insights to Islam offered. Unfortuantely, I didn't enjoy the Chinese parts as much, but that was to be expected, as I am not much for Chinese things. I found a couple glaring research errors, one in costuming, one on the traditions of the American Indians (called another name, God bless!), but I am very pedantic about these things. The rest of the book felt very solid.

I very much enjoyed it, and I think those who really like things Chinese (as opposed to me, who likes things Islam and India) will enjoy it even more.

4 of 5 amulets

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