5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A good book - Pity, it could have been great.,
This review is from: The Years of Rice and Salt (Paperback)
As a history addict, particularly ancient and medieval, I always find fascinating any scenario of what might have been and never was. The central idea of this book - a world shaped not by Christian European influence but by the East, that being Islam, India or China, seemed a very good start. And, having read the "Mars Trilogy" by the same writer, I was expecting much, maybe too much.
Well the book is not bad. It focuses on particular moments of this alternate History of Mankind, following a set of characters through successive reincarnations, as they try to understand themselves and the world around them, always trying to make it a better place in the small way that they can. I believe we could do very well without the reincarnations and the intervals in "Bardo" as the writer puts it. The book would loose nothing of its narrative potential and we would not have the trouble trying to follow which is which every time.
Otherwise, the general impression is that, although History is changed, it basically remains the same since the same gross and terrible mistakes are made by different peoples and nations.
I would not go so far as discourage anyone reading the book, I enjoyed it personally. But the overall impression is one of a really great book that it might have been, and sadly never was.