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The Earth Will Shake (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  918 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
They have been with us all through history: The "Invisible College" of wisdom, and their adversaries--the destroyers--who rise from the flames to burn again. The history of the world is their story: a conspiracy as vast and all-encompassing as the riddle of time itself.

In Naples, Italy, in 1764, a young aristocrat is about to stumble onto one piece of the great pattern.

Paperback, 381 pages
Published February 5th 1991 by Roc (first published 1982)
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Jan 03, 2011 kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suck on it, Dan Brown.
Sep 11, 2007 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of adventure, history, and human endeavor.
The first book of my favorite trilogy ever. I learn something new on almost every page. I just finished my second reading. In 1764, Sigismundo Celine, the 14 year old son of a wine merchant in Naples, Italy, is finding that everything he's been taught by the Catholic Church might be, shall we say, of questionable veracity? This book wins on almost every level. Searingly intelligent, unfailingly funny, unflinchingly brave in the face of danger. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Please f ...more
Jun 03, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers, si-fi fans, magicians
Recommended to Michael by: serendipity
This was the first RAW book I read, at a time when I was perhaps an ideal “target audience” for it – a nerdy adolescent who was beginning to suspect that there was “more” to the world than had been presented to me by traditional authorities. I would still say that it is the best fiction (possibly the best writing) Wilson ever produced unaided - inferior to The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid/The Golden Apple/Leviathan, but that has to be partly credited to Shea. I think Wilson may h ...more
Jun 17, 2010 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some years ago, during my more impetuous youth, I discovered this fabulously subversive trilogy of novels that tied together my love of conspiracy, drugs and satire, with dashes of clever dry wit. This was The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. They blew my mind, and still do to this day.

Recently while trolling the net I discovered that Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) had written prequels to the original trilogy, showing the origins of "The Conspiracy" and an ancestor of one
Dec 12, 2011 Harris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nostalgia
Revisiting Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus series was interesting, but not entirely as expected. After reading the monstrous, seminal “Illuminatus Trilogy” (which Wilson co-wrote) in high school during a period of interest in conspiracy fiction, I was not entirely sure what to think about it (aside from being intrigued by the chaotic, sweeping conspiratorial world) invented by Wilson. How much is history? How much is fantasy? In “The Earth Will Shake,” the first part of Wilson's “Historical Il ...more
East Bay J
Apr 17, 2013 East Bay J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I read this series years ago and remembered really enjoying it. Reading The Earth Will Shake reminds me why. I think my favorite aspect of this tale of Sigismundo Celine is how Wilson weaves famous figures and events from history into the narrative. I adore when authors do this, perhaps because my grasp of the historical timeline has always been a bit shaky.

Celine, the protagonist, is a musician and I love the way Wilson talks about music. It's really a beautiful thing. The inclusion of Mozart a
Erik Graff
Jul 13, 2009 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wilson fans
Recommended to Erik by: James Koehnline
Shelves: literature
Martin introduced me to the history and mythology of the Illuminati shortly after high school, causing the two of us to look up every reference we could find and establishing a number of inside jokes cementing our friendship. Like UFOs, it was interesting to discover that many older acquaintances also had what they thought was some knowledge about the organization. It was amusing, for instance, to learn that the John Birch Society kept a two hundred year old book on the subject in print. Only y ...more
Mar 05, 2015 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is set in 18th century Napoli, Italy. It is focused on an adolesant Sigismundo Celine, a good and faithful Catholic. One Easter Sunday during mass, the priests called on God and got the Devil in reply. All that Sigimundo has ever known true about God is put to the test. He travels deep, deep down into the fiery pits of Dante's selva oscura. His fragile little mind is warped by drugs and mind control. The ones closest to him reveal the history of conspiracy and so-called heresy their f ...more
Phil Scovis
The first book of a trilogy (good to know; I found this out as I finished the last page!) The book traces the origins of modern liberal democracy to a small group of secret societies in Naples.

It was good reading. Obviously well-researched, it was difficult to tell what was fiction, what was history, and what was conspiracy bullshit. The characters are very well-drawn, particularly the growth of the innocent, but impetuous adolescent genius Sigismundo Celine.

The Earth doesn't exactly shake in t
Dec 18, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting book and a very easy read, a real page-turner. Wilson explores and analyzes religion and secret societies while we grow very close to certain characters as we follow their life stories. Robert Anton Wilson is definitely a precursor to such authors as Dan Brown, but in my opinion Wilson takes his topics very seriously and seems to cover the intricacies of secret societies in much more detail than Brown. I can't wait to read the next two books in this trilogy!
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I actually thought I would and I read it a lot faster than I thought I would. I really liked the setting and the historical kind of fantasy story throughout. I liked the characters and I liked the underlying ideas I managed to understand from this book. All in all a speedy engrossing read. Looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.
Cynthian Leather
I love the historical chronicles! I would recommend readingthese before the Illuminatus! Trilogy. It lays a framework for some of a lot of the same characters and narratives, but in a historical context, rather than sci fi/psychedelic.
Jul 25, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easier to read and not quite as over-the-top as the original Illuminatus! trilogy. An intriguing mix of some history, lots of consipracy theories, mysteries and a young composer growing-up. Not as good as Umberto Eco, but an interesting read.
Nov 26, 2007 gepr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as enlightened and entertaining as the first time I read it, which was probably in high school. Funny thing about RAW, his writing is timeless and a bit hypnotic. He isn't a great writer; but it's densely packed with concepts that are as banal or as transcendental as your mood at the time.
Feb 16, 2009 Lynsi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This trilogy was the first to make me passionate about american history. It follows with great characters the birth of america. All of the research on the secret societies and power struggles are noted unlike the DaVinci Code which recycled research without givng credit to the real scholars.
Mar 24, 2010 Aljan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I found it to be written in a way that made it very hard for me to connect with the charaters. I got about halfway through and realized that I didn't really care about them, the story, or what the outcome would be and decided to move on. Very easy to put down.
I am not sure how I heard about this book. It fell into my hands and took me for a ride. Love it when that happens. Lots of secret societies, history, and great reading. It is book one of a trilogy. Too bad no libraries in the state own book 2!
Shay Bockmann
Jan 18, 2009 Shay Bockmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It is fun, interesting and illuminating. I wish so much he'd have finished the series, and given the later books what they deserved as well.
Feb 11, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, discordian
A volume in the Historical Illuminatus Chronicales. Every page is a delight. I wept to see it end...
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Derek Baldwin
Jul 28, 2011 Derek Baldwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very funny and very entertaining historical fortean romp, first part of a (sort-of) trilogy.
Apr 16, 2015 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most enjoyable philosophical trip to illumination.
Sep 02, 2014 Thibault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I miss bob!!!
Jan 08, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though the Historical Illuminati series is not quite as funny and drug-induced as the original, it has a more streamline plot and is quite fun to read.
Alethea Hammer

One of Wilson's most easily understood and enjoyed books. A good place to start to learn his worldview and his vocabulary before starting some of his zanier works.
Brandon Wark
Brandon Wark rated it it was amazing
Aug 02, 2013
Johanna Lynn
Johanna Lynn rated it liked it
Feb 03, 2014
Jeffery Russell
Jeffery Russell rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2012
Azrealkase rated it really liked it
Sep 25, 2016
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Robert Anton Wilson became, at various times, an American novelist, essayist, philosopher, polymath, psychonaut, futurist, libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos, Pope, and Saint of Discordianism by Discordians who care to label him as such, Wilson helped publicize the group/religion/melee through his writings, interviews, and strolls.

He described his work as an
More about Robert Anton Wilson...

Other Books in the Series

The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles (3 books)
  • The Widow's Son (Historical Illuminatus Chronicles 2)
  • Nature's God (Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, #3)

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