The Years of Rice and Salt

Front Cover
Bantam Books, 2003 - Fiction - 763 pages
433 Reviews
With the incomparable vision and breathtaking detail that brought his now-classic Mars trilogy to vivid life, bestselling author KIM STANLEY ROBINSON boldly imagines an alternate history of the last seven hundred years. In his grandest work yet, the acclaimed storyteller constructs a world vastly different from the one we know....

The Years of Rice and Salt

It is the fourteenth century and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur–the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe’s population was destroyed. But what if? What if the plague killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed? This is a look at the history that could have been–a history that stretches across centuries, a history that sees dynasties and nations rise and crumble, a history that spans horrible famine and magnificent innovation. These are the years of rice and salt.

This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world’s greatest scientific minds–in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions and Christianity is merely a historical footnote.

Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry. Rewriting history and probing the most profound questions as only he can, Robinson shines his extraordinary light on the place of religion, culture, power, and even love on such an Earth. From the steppes of Asia to the shores of the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.


From the Hardcover edition.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
133
4 stars
116
3 stars
87
2 stars
63
1 star
34

Fascinating premise. - Goodreads
Overall, I thought the writing was very uneven. - Goodreads
Incredibly researched and thoroughly thought out. - Goodreads
The research must have been staggering, and he has to n - Goodreads
His storytelling is better than most. - Goodreads
A good plot, but it could've been executed better. - Goodreads

Review: The Years of Rice and Salt

User Review  - Tori Mckenna - Goodreads

The premise of this book was really interesting and it had a lot of thoughtful concepts in it. The way the book was framed where you follow the same set of souls through different lifetimes as a way ... Read full review

Review: The Years of Rice and Salt

User Review  - Chris Ellis - Goodreads

Robinson's style makes for easy reading, and the premise (that the black death wiped out 99% of Europe) makes for a fascinating storyline. The book is divided into progressive (time wise) stories that ... Read full review

About the author (2003)

Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of the Nebula and Hugo Award—winning Mars trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, as well as The Martians, Antarctica, The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, Pacific Edge, A Short, Sharp Shock, and other novels. He lives in Davis, California.


From the Hardcover edition.

Bibliographic information