This is one sprawling and ambitious novel and it's unlike anything I've read. The themes: freedom, time, memory, ecology and reincarnation are as broad and varied as the individual stories that come together and drift apart.
We start on an action/adventure with a man of conscience in 1850 off the shore of New Zealand before an abrupt jump to Belgium in the 1930s following an artist/con man making his way the only way he knows how. Just as we begin to become immersed in his world, the book jumps again to a thriller about corporate greed set in 1970s California with a young woman reporter determined to find the truth behind a conspiracy–next we are in the present day with a comedy of errors starring a lovable old grump, then we're yanked into a sci fi disutopian drama in futuristic, capitalistic South Korea. We are taken even farther into the future when mankind has nearly destroyed itself and men of the wild are struggling to survive.
Whew! If these chapters sound disparate, they are. And yet somehow Mitchell manages to make all the pieces feel like part of one overwhelming and immersing world. A world so expansive and changing in its past and future that we and Mitchell are left shaken and in awe of it. In short, a small portrait our our world.