Read Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson Online


In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe -- in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape

Title : Quicksilver
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060833169
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 456 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Quicksilver Reviews

  • Bradley
    2018-12-05 06:22

    I'm re-reading this wonderful Historical revolving Daniel Waterhouse because I'm a huge fan of Stephenson and I have to admit that I never continued further than this first book of the first Cycle. I don't know why! Perhaps I just wanted more SF or Fantasy in my life at the time and it just fell away from me, but I feel like an idiot now. :)SO. Rereading this brought me back fully into the world of post-Cromwell England, so full of details and concerned mostly with the heart of modern science... from Newton, Leibwitz, Hook, and Comstock. The stories themselves are endlessly fascinating, actually, and the man who ties them all together, Daniel Waterhouse, is equally so. His getting into the Invisible College at its inception and working closely with all these fantastic persons was great for both story, history and, more specifically, the history of science.It's hugely detailed and interconnected, and if that wasn't enough, Stephenson throws in a huge discourse on the economics, political issues, the wars, the plague, and of coruse religion. This is a fantastically intelligent, broad, and detailed look at England, late 17th century and early 18th. I remember being flabbergasted at the amount of research the first time and now that I know more the second time, I'm still flabbergasted at the amount of research. The fact that he can weave a cool tale and have everything hold together as one of the best historicals I've ever read is a testament to Stephenson. :)A note, however. There's two sets of books or book collections out here that have gone a great way to confusing me as to what to read where and how. I'll just make a note to everyone else who might also be confused.The Quicksilver novel shows up both as the first book in the first cycle, also called Quicksilver.Yeah. Nuts.So I'm reviewing the individual first novel in the Cycle here, with this, and then reviewing King of Vagabonds as part two (a full novel as well) of the Quicksilver Cycle, followed with Odalesque.The two conventions would have us believe that there are either three Cycles bound together as three enormous books, or Eight Books altogether, separate. :) I'm going to review all eight, separately, because a lot happens everywhere. :)

  • KatHooper
    2018-11-27 09:03

    [This audiobook contains Book 1 of the print edition of the Quicksilver omnibus. Book 2 is King of the Vagabonds. Book 3 is Odalisque.]I’m a scientist by profession and I love history. Thus, I’m fascinated by the history of science, especially the era of Isaac Newton et al. So, Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver should be just my thing and I was fully expecting to love this book (it’s been on my list for years), but I’m sad to say that I was disappointed in this first installment of The Baroque Cycle, though I still have high hopes for the remaining books.Quicksilver is well-researched and well-written and chock full of plenty of stuff I love to read about: 17th and 18th century scholars and politicians exploring the way the world works. What an exciting time to be alive! Neal Stephenson successfully captures the feeling of the Baroque world — its architecture, fashion, nobility, plagues, and lack of waste management. He’s done his research, so he clearly and enthusiastically informs us about such diverse topics as alchemy, astronomy, botany, calculus, coinage, cryptography, the Dutch Wars, economics, free will, Galilean invariance, geometry, heresy, international relations, Judaism, kinematics, logic, microscopy, natural philosophy, optics, politics, the Reformation, the Restoration, relativity, sailing, sea warfare, slavery, taxonomy, warfare, weaponry, and zoology... I could go on. Quicksilver will get you half way through a liberal arts education in only 335 pages.This is quite an accomplishment, but it’s also a problem. I love historical fiction, but great historical fiction uses the context of an exciting plot, engaging characters, and some sort of tension in the form of mystery and/or romance. Quicksilver has none of that. It’s purely what I’ll call (for lack of a better term) “historical science fiction.” Daniel Waterhouse, the character whose eyes we see through (mostly in flashbacks), has no personality, passion, or purpose. In Quicksilver, he exists to look over the shoulders of the men who are the real subjects of the book: the members of the Royal Society.These men are fascinating, yes, but if the purpose of Quicksilver is to relay a huge amount of information about them in an interesting way, I’d rather read a non-fiction account. Then at least I’d know which of the numerous anecdotes about Isaac Newton (et al.) are factual. I can think of no reason to read this history as a fictional account if it contains none of the elements of an entertaining novel.As an example, I’ll contrast Quicksilver with Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. I read all 20½ of those novels and was completely enthralled. Not only did I learn a lot about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, but I was also thoroughly entertained by the fictional stories of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. That is excellent historical fiction.Quicksilver was funny in places (such as when the Royal Society members talk about time, kidney stones, and opiates during one of their meetings) — and engrossing a couple of times (such as when Daniel Waterhouse and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz discuss cognition, free will, and artificial intelligence), and though I enjoy learning about the invention of clocks, calculators, and coffee, Quicksilver is mostly information overload without a story to back it up.I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version, which was beautifully read by Simon Prebble (always a treat). Due to its length, Brilliance Audio has split Quicksilver into its three sections: “Quicksilver,” “King of the Vagabonds,” and “Odalisque.” The next audiobook, then, is called King of the Vagabonds, and it shifts focus to a London street urchin who becomes an adventurer. Now that sounds like fun! I’m going to read King of the Vagabonds and hope that the introduction of some non-academic characters will give this saga some life!

  • Clif Hostetler
    2018-11-25 06:00

    I am beginning the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. Check this link for further explanation regarding this eight book series. This is a review of the first book, Quicksilver (not the three book volume of the same title).This is a historical novel with two parallel story lines, one following the fictional Daniel Waterhouse as a young man in the late 17th Century and the other framing narrative following him as an old man in 1713 as he remembers his earlier life. Daniel as a young man was a close acquaintance of both Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. Forty years later in 1713, Waterhouse who is now living in colonial Massachusetts has been asked to return to England to attempt to resolved the bitter dispute between Newton and Leibniz regarding credit for the creation of calculus mathematics. In the 1713 narrative Waterhouse boards a ship leaving Boston harbor which runs into an extended encounter with pirates, including Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard). During the midst of these adventures he remembers his earlier years, thus the earlier 17th Century narrative.In the earlier story line we learn that Waterhouse was a member of The Royal Society and rubbed shoulders with what seems like every conceivable historical personage in politics and natural philosophy at the time. He was mentored by John Wilkins, founder of the Royal Society. He was a roommate of Isaac Newton's at Cambridge. He had extended conversations with the young Leibniz. He worked as an assistant to Robert Hooke in his scientific experiments. In other words, he was at the core of the beginning of advances in scientific and mathematical thinking during the Enlightenment era. I thoroughly enjoyed Stephenson's description of time, place and historical characters. He does plant some fictional items in the story that correlate with his novel, Cryptonomicon, which is set in the 20th Century.This is a link to my review of Cryptonomicon. Stephenson has characterized the Baroque Cycle as science fiction due to the presence of some anomalous occurrences and the emphasis on themes relating to science and technology. That may be true, but I experienced to book primarily as historical fiction.An interesting quotation:“... are you suggesting that those who study natural philosophy can acquire some kind of occult knowledge--special insight into God’s Creation, not available to the common Bible-reading man?”“Er...I suppose that’s quite clearly what I’m suggesting.”Drake nodded. “That is what I thought. Well, God gave us brains for a reason--not to use those brains would be a sin.”Some links that may be of interest:LINK TO Wikipedia article about the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of King of the Vagabonds (Bk. 2) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of Odalisque (Bk. 3) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of The Confusion (Bks. 4 & 5) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of Solomon's Gold (Bk. 6) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of Currency (Bk. 7) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of System of the World (Bk. 8) by Neal Stephenson.

  • Sandi
    2018-11-21 11:11

    I tossed this one because I liked it. "Quicksilver" is the book of the month for one of my reading groups. When I went to the bookstore, I saw the mass-market paperback and the trade paperback on the shelf next to each other. I picked up the mass-market version because it was cheaper. What I didn't realize was that I was only getting 1/3 of the book. A hundred paged in, I was enjoying it so much, I decided to switch the full version as soon as I had a Borders coupon.I do have to say that I really feel cheated by the mass-market version. There is absolutely nothing on the cover that indicates that it's only 1/3 of the original book.

  • Jeff Bottrell
    2018-12-16 11:01

    Some stories have faults we can't overlook because they tickle at our central understanding of good writing. Others bear faults that, while weakening the whole, uphold - often with courage and daring - the things we love about books. For me, Quicksilver sits in that second category. As is my preference, I began the book with little foreknowledge. This was my first experience with Neal Stephenson's work. The story, as it unfolds, attempts to encapsulate in the loosest of plots a central understanding of the British Baroque period from the perspective of the elites - those movers and shakers in the world of science, culture, politics, and commerce. Stephenson sews the entire story together through dialogue, and inserts into the world of Daniel Waterhouse, our affable main character, a bevy of scientists, conspirators, sailors, and political players from whom we learn about the changing world they inhabit. Everything is touched upon and little developed, loose ends are often left at loose ends, and there is little-to-no central story or fictional dilemma. It's a book that will frustrate or, worse yet, bore a large number of readers. That being said, I loved it and look forward to reading more and perhaps going back through it again sometime. Why? The author has a couple of things going for him that tend to override a hell of a lot of my issues. First, he knows how to put words together. Gorgeous and graceful prose is uncommon in popular fiction. More often than not, what we get with such things is a writer who dutifully places words together in service of a tense and pulpy plot. Which is fine - it's what we're used to, and it often results in exciting fiction. But with Quicksilver, what we have is something else. It's art. And it's more than the words- it's an artist choosing where to look, where to aim his literary camera to capture those certain angles he wishes to share in order to delight the reader (and perhaps centrally himself). Stephenson takes obvious joy in his subject matter, lending the story the feel of a playful romp. Daniel's underlying optimism pervades even the story's moments of tension and in this, seems to mirror the Zeitgeist of the era. Finally, in reading this novel, my curiosity was provoked, and I ended up doing a lot of side-research on various events I'd never given thought to. Surely this is one of the best reactions a book can inspire.

  • Rob
    2018-11-20 05:03

    I almost didn’t finish this novel. I believe if I had read it 10 years earlier, that would not have been the case. As is characteristic of a Stephenson novel, this one is delightfully tedious — thoroughly researched, full of period stylistic flourishes, and oft labyrinthine prose. And there is totally a time and place for that. But at this point I’ve read enough of his novels to know better, to know what was happening (stylistically speaking) as it unfolded, and while this did make me smile, it was a nostalgic one. In many ways, the novel’s period setting becomes a clever (and, quite honestly, rather involved) conceit which provides the excuse for writing prose and dialogue with the peculiar spellings, oblique and veiled metaphors, &c.It’s by no means a bad book. I just feeling like I’ve visited this stylistic and thematic soil before.TL;DR: how many times can you write a novel about the invention of the computer?

  • Joe
    2018-12-18 10:03

    This book is kickass. Part 1 is thick and includes lots of philosophy. And dandy Englishmen doing dandy Englishmen things. Some good pirate parts in the current time. The flashbacks are more for background. I'm still not sure if they are going to form a computer that deals with God or what.It picks up in Part 2 with the Vagabond King. Hell yeah! Turkish invasion of Vienna! Harem girl escapes with neutered man about to go crazy from the pox! Flashbacks of gritty youth spent with criminals! Fuck, now we're talking.Go read this book. Skip the boring parts if you want. The Vagabond King is totally awesome. Daniel Waterhouse is okay, but only starts to get interesting in the last hundred pages of part 1. This is a book you'll have to be patient with but then when you do, oh wow.

  • Philip
    2018-11-30 11:10

    Nice book, more educational and less entertaining than Cryptonomicon. I'm on to the next book in The Baroque Cycle.

  • Tiara
    2018-11-30 09:30

    3.5 stars. Review to come.

  • John Boettcher
    2018-12-14 07:28

    This is an incredibly written book. You have to spend TIME to read most of Stephensons's works. So many books you can just pick up and put down, but the thought and effort and time that he puts into his longer books is downright astonishing. It is historical fiction at its best. Quicksilver takes place just before the dawn of America, in the era of Issac Newton and Lebniz. He even uses one of the main characters from his earlier book, Waterhouse, as a ancestor of the characters in that book as well. It is a great tie in, and a great start to an amazing trilogy of books. But again, you cannot just pick this tome up and put it down. There are multiple timelines running together, multiple stories, so much going on. You have to be paying attention and putting some effort into the read. It is not that it is HARD to read. The prose is amazing. He has absolute mastery over the English language. It is just that to follow his storytelling in all its glory, you have to put some time into it. However, besides all of these qualifications, this book, along with every other book of Stephenson's that I have read, get's 5 stars. I don't know how they couldn't.

  • Seth Kaplan
    2018-11-20 09:11

    Overall, this was an extremely well-written book which shows Stephenson's incredible handle on the English language. At times it was difficult to remember that it is a work of historical fiction, not of history. It was incredibly fun to read about a young Isaac Newton and to learn about optics, alchemy and mechanical clocks, all the while seeing the balance of science and politics at play. It was, however, a pretty tough read, and sometimes I had a very hard time figuring out how to pull it all together.When I read, I'm often looking for something to take me away from the day and to not require to think too much, but this book really requires you to play close attention. Based on reviews I've read, the subsequent volumes of the Baroque Cycle flow much more easily, but I am going to take a break and do a little lighter reader before coming back.

  • Ben
    2018-12-04 05:00

    I've concluded that either I know almost nothing about 18th-century European/American scientific history, or Stephenson is just making up a whole bunch of stuff. Probably both.So, on my second attempt at this book, I was able to finish it, but I felt lost and bewildered most of the time. (The 12-page "Dramatis Personae" at the end of the book made me feel at least justified in this response)There is enough tongue-in-cheek Stephenson to keep me reading, but very little that actually has to do with a plot. However, once I stopped looking for that story line, and just allowed myself to simply be in the same room as the characters while they talked to each other, it was rather enjoyable. I'll pick up the next one now, and just hope there's less about Louis XIV.

  • Emily
    2018-12-07 07:07

    The concept of this series intrigued me - an intertwining plot featuring loads of actual historical characters, events, and discoveries from the 17th Century - but the execution let me down. The author often seems SO impressed by his own cleverness that it's like listening to a pretentious know-it-all instead of a good story-teller. Also the characters dissect live dogs for medical experiments - no thank you.

  • Jax
    2018-11-29 12:08

    I dont know enough about the history of Calculus/Algebra/whatthefuckever to be able to appreciate this. Shame.

  • Shana Yates
    2018-12-13 09:19

    3.5 stars. This is the first book in a lengthy series (or cycle, as Stephenson has coined it) and it is a bit of an oddity. As is typical for Stephenson, he has done extensive historical research, which amply shows. Told from the vantage point of Daniel Waterhouse in 1713, mostly through flashbacks to the mid-1600s, we are introduced to a host of fictional and historical figures. The fictional are largely the ancestors of the main characters in Stephenson's Cryptonomicon; the historical figures range from luminaries in the Royal Society (including Isaac Newton) and a number of other scientific and royal movers and shakers from the Enlightenment. What makes this entry so odd is that it doesn't really go anywhere - what little forward moving narrative there is (mostly of a now elderly Daniel Waterhouse setting sail from Massachusetts back to England and a pursuit by pirates) takes up no more than a tenth of the novel. The remainder is a series of interludes involving Royal Society members, ranging among scientific endeavors, discussions of religion, cultural musings, class observations, and political maneuverings. These interludes are entertaining, but only for those that enjoy Stephenson's tendency to ramble and who don't mind a massive set-up for the remaining books in the cycle.

  • M Christopher
    2018-11-24 10:08

    A quirky opening to an 8-book cycle, Quicksilver is "science fiction" only in that it deals with the doings of scientists in the late 17th & early 18th centuries and that there is one character who may be a time traveler, an immortal, or some other supernatural being. More properly "historical fiction," Quicksilver is intriguingly written but takes a long time to go anywhere, plot wise. The delights to be had are in the ideas the characters themselves are exploring, philosophical, scientific, and financial, which give us the heart of modern society.

  • Navaneethan Santhanam
    2018-12-17 12:20

    Blending historical fact with clever fiction, Stephenson takes us to mid-17th century London where scientific Upheaval is taking place. The cast of characters is formidable - Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton, John Wilkins, The Royal Society, Leibniz, among other Notables. In parts it absurdly hilarious (the Royal Society's experiments in uncovering knowledge) and at others it give the thrill of witnessing Science's great wars - Newton vs Leibniz over ownership of Calculus - and the end of Alchemy and the precursor to the Enlightenment.

  • Daniel
    2018-11-29 10:04

    Very complex. Lots of stuff in it. Helps to know a lot about history including (but not limited too) science, economics, politics and religion.Not a complete book (sort of).

  • Amg
    2018-11-18 09:12

    This is going to be a lifetime project.And, when do I suppose it's right to start Volume 2?

  • Eile Begley
    2018-12-12 09:24

    Although there were some fascinating little factoids throughout this historical fiction piece, the dialogue was too pedantic to really enjoy.

  • Michael Nash
    2018-12-06 11:28

    Here's another one I have no idea how to rate. I think Stephenson has done a remarkable job of evoking life in the 17th century and answering such questions as What would it be like to be Isaac Newton's college roommate?, although I don't know how accurate he is. I love that the whole book is basically history porn (despite the campinness of having every major figure from the era from Spinoza to Blackbeard show up in poor Daniel Waterhouse's life story) in the grand tradition of Herman Woulk and James Calvell of weaving fictional characters in with real ones. However, what the book really lacks is either a direction for the plot or an ending. Obviously, it is the first book in a series, and presumably the story will become more fleshed out at a later date, but it seems like even a first volume should have more of a conclusion than the main characters ship outsailing Blackbeard and getting away to carry out the mission introduced in the first chapter. *3rd Reading*I didn’t have much to say about Neal Stephenson’sBaroque Cycleon first readthrough. I was new to goodreads at the time and hadn’t committed myself to seriously reviewing everything at the time. I have more to say now. The cycle is super weird and hard to categorize. Structurally it’s a lot like historical fiction ala authors like Herman Woulk, wherein a series of fictional characters provide the reader of a ground view of a particular historical period through having a relationship with literally every major historical figure of that period. Daniel Waterhouse, a fantastic fictional character, is notable for being close friends with both Newton and Leibniz, for example, along with being a protégé of John Wilkins of the Royal Society. That said, Stephenson is so weird, that he insists on telling a relatively simple story in the most complex way possible, with weird unnecessary multiple timelines and flashbacks and flashforwards and random time skips, and he has a tendency to go on strange tangents on whatever subjects happen to fascinate him. Ultimately, though, we kind of have forgive Neal his eccentricities and his obsession with currency. It’s not called The Baroque Cycle for no reason. Despite the disjointed plot, Stephenson manages to paint a fascinating picture of a fascinating period of history, and the things by which he is fascinated are fascinating things. This is a great work of historical fiction with just enough oddness thrown in to keep things interesting.

  • Twoscrewsloose
    2018-12-13 11:29

    I don't know what I just read. I know that it had a huge cast of fascinating characters, although, if pressed, I could probably not name more than about five (not counting the ones I already knew before going in, like Isaac Newton or Blackbeard, though the fact that this book has both of those already scores it some points). The setting for the book is fascinating - namely, that little bit of history that is the transition point between alchemy and science, which they apparently called "natural philosophy," where no one really knew what they were doing yet, but were just starting to catch on to the idea of experimentation and repeatable results. Unfortunately, history was never my strong suit, and there's a lot of other things going on involving religion and politics and kings and dukes and possibly also the Pope. And it's probably all important to the story somehow. Maybe. I'm not actually entirely sure what the story WAS, to be honest, and I'm not sure if that's because this is only the first book and the story's not done yet, or because all those things going on in the background were the point of the story and I just kind of missed it because I can't remember who Oliver Cromwell was, or what the popular church at the time was, or something. I think it says something, though, that I don't even really care if I missed the point of the story, just because I loved the main characters so much and enjoyed watching this world of discovery unfold before them.I already know that the next book might not have those favorite characters of mine, though, because that is apparently just a thing that Stephenson does, but there is no way in heck that I'm not going to read it anyway.EDIT: Oh for crying out loud. That wasn't even the first book. That was the first book OF the first book. Ye gods, this guy can write. And now I've got two more books to read before I can start the second book.

  • Donal
    2018-12-04 10:25

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. As an academic with some knowlede of the period, I was interested in this telling of an important era in the history of science and technology.The year in which this novel opens is 1713, when one man has travelled across the atlantic to find another. The reasons for this become plain, to some extent at least, early on in the novel. Thereafter, the narrative switches between 1713 and the mid 17th century. We get to meet the founders of the Royal society, to gain some insight into their work, the manner in which it was conducted, and the geopolitics which was also ongoing. The main protagonist, Dr. Daniel Waterhouse, is himself a fellow of the Royal Society and counts some of the major philosophical and scientific thinkers of both his time, and ours, as friends. We hear of the experiments that were conducted, the internal factions that developed in the Royal Society, and the power-struggles of the various members of diverse religious sects, all of whom were trying to take control of the intellectual and spiritual aspects of England and beyond.The only reason for my not awarding this book five stars is that I feel vaguely cheated. I read this as an audiobook purchased from Audible, and nowhere was it indicated that this was only half of the original first edition of this book. I would far rather have read the lengthier tome than have stopped at some seemingly arbitrary point in the story.

  • Douglas Gorney
    2018-12-05 08:04

    I was hoping to be able to dispense with The Baroque Cycle in one go—to be honest I can't remember greatly liking one book in the trilogy over another, and I really want to put some distance between myself and those 2700+ pages. It's not that the story's not entertaining—it is, and and it's amusingly written, too, with an omniscient narrator who likes to break the authorial third wall with snarky commentary on fashion choices in the 1600s—and as always with Stephenson you'll learn a great deal. The birth of modern science, banking and monetary systems are a few of the cloisters within which his characters wander in this sprawling trilogy. But sprawl it does.Stephenson has said many times, in response to readers suggesting that he could use an editor, that he doesn't need one. He's wrong. He needs someone to cut words, paragraphs, pages, whole books—and at times to spank him, too. The books go on far, far too long in too many places, scurrying down narrative and didactic rabbit holes with nothing to show for it. One doesn't have the sense that Stephenson, fun as he can be to read—the entertainment and sheer breadth of the thing meriting three stars—is enough the master of his craft to have undertaken this cycle. Neither its plot nor its structure, nor its many adjoining themes, really amount to anything conclusive in the end.

  • Johnsergeant
    2018-12-02 06:14

    I have to say I found this audiobook tough going. I generally like Neal Stephenson's writing, but I am not sure I got the point of this book. It was hard to keep track of the characters, location and time period, and there was very little action. My mind kept wandering.Narrated by Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson14 hrs and 48 minsPublisher's SummaryIn this first volume of Neal Stephenson’s genre-defying epic, Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson’s award-winning series, spans the late 17th and early 18th centuries, combining history, adventure, science, invention, piracy, and alchemy into one sweeping tale. It is a gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive historical epic populated by the likes of Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin, and King Louis XIV, along with some of the most inventive literary characters in modern fiction.Audible’s complete and unabridged presentation of The Baroque Cycle was produced in cooperation with Neal Stephenson. Each volume includes an exclusive introduction read by the author.

  • Piotr
    2018-11-20 10:07

    Absolutne arcydzieło... co jak co, ale jednak Neal Stephenson potrafi stworzyć książki kompletne, bohaterów idealnych i historie tak prawdziwe jak tylko potrafi być prawdziwa fikcja literacka. W postaci cyklu barokowego (w tym przypadku pierwszego tomu [lub pierwszych trzech ksiąg]) dostajemy powieść historyczną, w której znajdziemy oblężenie Wiednia, piratów (z Port Royale i Turcji) rozważania filozoficzno-naukowe, rozwój nowoczesnej fizyki, biologii, astronomii, zegarmistrzów, chirurgów (nie mylić z lekarzami którzy w tamtych czasach zajmowali się głównie upuszczaniem humorów z ciał pacjentów). Poznajemy zasady rządzące gospodarką i handlem, dworami królewskimi, genealogią i dziedziczeniem. Mamy także bardzo obrazowy opis porodu oraz usuwania kamieni moczowych... książkę czyta mi się o tyle ciekawiej, że wcześniej przeczytałem "okalające" książki Stephensona - czyli wcześniejszy Cryptonomicon i późniejszą Peanatemę. Od razy widzimy tu jasne nawiązania do Cryptonomiconu oraz wątki które zostały rozwinięte w Peanatemie. Takie podejście do literatury możemy znaleźć chyba tylko u Stephensona...

  • Mark Ryall
    2018-12-16 12:10

    This was my second attempt at reading this. It seems strange to break a 3 volume series into an 8 volume series but somehow that has made it more palatable for someone like me. Reading all three of the new series at once (ie. the original first volume) seems too difficult - I need a good lie down and to read something less dense between each installment or i just lost momentum.Sometimes the story does rollick along at a reasonable pace. The majority of the time, however it feels more like a list of historical facts with some interleaved fictional embellishments. I had a similar experience with Foucault's Pendulum but that isn't 3,000 pages long.The difficulty is just that the baroque triology (now octology?) has a completely different pace to all other Neal Stephenson novels. If you come to this immediately after crytonomicon or snow crash it might feel like you've dived into a swimming pool filled with molasses.Having said all that, it is a very ambitious project and really well executed. Now that I know how to read these books, I'm looking forward to making it all the way through.

  • William Showalter
    2018-12-04 10:05

    I was weary to start the Baroque cycle because I didn't think I would find the time period and noble court setting very interesting.I was wrong.Neal Stephenson is a master of historical fiction, incorporating real people and events while interjecting his own characters into the heart of it all.This first volume is split between following the story of Danial Waterhouse from the beginning of the Baroque cycle and following his story decades later foreshadowing and leading up to the end of the epoch. Encorporating all the lineages from Cryptonomicon this series is strewn with Waterhouses, Shaftoes (although not until the next book), and of course timeless Enoch Root.This first book is a good start to a series that will have you be picking up book after book until you've finished them all.

  • Robert
    2018-12-04 11:10

    It got better as I read further. I was a little annoyed by the didactic tone at the beginning of the book, like I was reading a textbook that was trying to be fun and hip. That style goes away about 1/3 of the way through. Stephenson does use a number of quirky spellings, I guess to make the whole experience more Baroque for the reader. For example, "fancy" is "phant'sy" in the Baroque cycle; extra k's show up occasionally, etc. No big deal, but sometimes I felt like he was bending the narrative around so that he could use "phant'sy" more than would naturally occur. Regardless of Stephenson's being thought of as a sci-fi writer, it's not science fiction, it's more like science-y fiction. It leans toward the vulgar on occasion, and there are some genuinely funny scenes. It kept my interest and I am looking forward to King of the Vagabonds. 3.8/5

  • Jonathan Pettit
    2018-11-26 08:15

    A day in the life of Daniel Waterhouse, a book of historical (sometimes science) fiction. The novel takes place in the late 17th and early 18th century. Daniel roomed with Isaac Newton at Cambridge, knew everyone in London at the time, survived the plague, the third war with the Dutch, and was deeply involved with the creation of Natural Philosphy (Science). As an engineer, with all the science and engineering studies, the book was great. The language was sometimes off a bit, due to the nature of creating a period book. Sometimes the book seemed slow at times. Overall a good book. I have read other Neal Stephenson novels and I always seem to come back. The rest of the Baroque Cycle will probably go on my list, but not on the immediate read section. The narrator did an excellent job with the production.