KSR finds inventive ways of restating this large theme within the episodic narratives of the individual books. For example, the third book titled "Ocean Continents" focuses on a fleet of Chinese treasure ships that have gotten lost at sea and come across an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that has not been encountered before. The sailors, having brought small pox with them to the island, infect the islanders and end up taking a young girl with them for their return to the mainland. Kheim, one of the recurring characters wonders if they are justified in taking the girl away from her home even though this means saving her from the certain death that many of her family will face. Kheim considers the speed with which the girl, whom they call "Butterfly," adjusts to life on the ship, which parallels the reader's experience of reorienting, or adjusting, to each new life that the characters appear in. The reader is put into the paradoxical position of knowing more and less than the central characters. The reader knows more because he/she sees the broad arc of the novel, but knows less because the individual lives within each of the books is very minimally glossed. The reader is then forced into a position from which they can see the big picture, the broad historical perspective, but miss out on the intricacies of the lives of the characters presented. This contributes to KSR's purpose because the characters are in tune with reincarnation and often recognize that a single lifetime is a small aspect of the entire "life" of a soul.
The book is fascinating so far. I found it a bit jarring to read at first but it only took the first couple of transitions between historical ages and characters to catch on to the conceit of the novel. The two concepts that interest me the most in the novel are the treatment of character and the treatment of history. KSR develops a complex reimagination of history through his inventive use of "character" in a completely non-traditional way.