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The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3, Book 3) (The Baroque Cycle (8 volume) #8)

4.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  866 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
In this concluding volume of Neal Stephenson's epic work, "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe must escape the noose of Jack Ketch; the rivalry between Newton and Leibniz comes to a head; and Daniel Waterhouse pursues his dream to build the Logic Mill.

The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson's award-winning series, spans the late 17th and early 18th centuries, combining history, adventure
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It’s not often that I like a book so much I want to read it over again. With trilogies, it has only happened once before (Lord of the Rings, of course). With really long books, once is always enough (2666). But this Baroque Cycle was simply so astonishingly good, the characters so real, the story so compelling, that I would begin it again tomorrow if I didn’t have two book club books waiting for me and 50 others on my nightstand.

I don’t know how Stephenson managed to sustain the great writing a
Apr 27, 2015 Cryptid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So this is science-fiction author writing tremendously accurate historical fiction. Shelving it among sci-fi is not completely off, but most of the reasons for this are so subtle that you probably won't notice any of them (it would help actually living at the times when the books are taking place). The plot is taking part more or less sometime between 1660 and 1730 and is concerned with a very complex confusion of political and economical evolution of European society at that time... There are t ...more
Stephen Evans
Jan 06, 2014 Stephen Evans rated it it was amazing
My least favourite of the three novels in The Baroque Cycle. Not as heady as Quicksilver, not as exciting as The Confusion. About 100 pages too long.Climax took place about 150 pages from the end. That's one loooooong denouement. I hope Stephenson is planning to connect the events of this trilogy to Cryptonomicon. A Victorian Shaftoe / Waterhouse plot would be simply awesome.
Jul 29, 2011 Dave added it
This is a simply terrific conclusion to the magniicent "Baroque Cycle" and is best read after Quicksilver and The Confusion. Stephenson's narrative is littered with genius. His research is immaculate, his conjuring of the place, the time, the mood, the language, the smells and sounds of LLondon's Newgate Prison are just fantastic.

All our old favourites are back but this is Daniel Waterhouse's story. Looking back it's clear now that book one was Eliza's tale, book 2 Jack's and book 3 Daniel's. An
Nov 26, 2012 Piotr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, co by tu napisać...
Koniec jednej z najpiękniejszych książkowych przygód ostatnich lat.

Cykl Barokowy to zjawisko niespotykane, jest to literatura kompletna, choć nie dla każdego. Jest to książka (książki) których przynależność gatunkowa jest bardzo trudna do określenia. Są to bez wątpienia książki historical fiction (ot, taki Sienkiewicz z jego trylogią) jednak autor określa je jako science fiction - głównie dla tego, że jednym z główniejszych bohaterów jest tu właśnie nauka, pierwsze realn
Clif Hostetler
This is the concluding book 8 of Neal Stephenson's epic Baroque Cycle (3rd book of volume 3 as originally published). Finally in this book Newton and Leibniz are placed in the same room and told by Princess Carolyn to resolve their differences. As depicted in this book, the calculus issue is hardly mentioned at all. The main differences that appear to be contentious are in the areas of philosophy and metaphysics. I am under the impression that the physical encounter of these three individuals in ...more
Peter Matthews
Jun 08, 2012 Peter Matthews rated it really liked it
The System of the World is the gathering of strings from Confusion and Quicksilver. Plots and characters reappear and intertwine distantly and very intimately. Mechanisms like a Logic Mill, a steam engine, a volcano, watches, transits, telescopes and microscopes assist the philosophers of the day to explore hitherto un resolved issues and inevitably reveal more problems and issues as they are understood. Inevitably however, it is the development of a financial system that stands out. The three b ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Margot rated it really liked it
This took a while, but I loved it. The best part to me was the cultural/scientific/social history that's so real that I pretty much keep an encyclopedia window open at all times to check if what has just been said is part of the fiction or not. I visited Europe this summer, including many sites mentioned in the gook(coincidentally) and the accuracy of the geography is really interesting. The story? It's about what alchemy really is and has done in the world, construed broadly. And it's great foo ...more
Ian Durham
Aug 03, 2011 Ian Durham rated it it was amazing
Well, I finished this awhile ago but never wrote a review. Where to begin? I'm not sure I could even do it justice. What a monumental trilogy. It deserves stars just for being written. Add to that the fact that it was actually *well* written and fun to read (as Stephenson's books tend to be) and the five stars were almost too few. That said, I found a few small spots in Volume 2 to run a bit slow, but Volume 3 was a fantastic way to wrap things up. What terrific characters he created. Talk about ...more
Halle Lieu
Jan 30, 2016 Halle Lieu rated it really liked it
“That’s why I was careful to say whenever some great prince sees fit to build it. If not the Tsar, then someone else who will come along after my death.”
”Or after mine, or my son’s or my grandson’s,” Johann says. “Human nature being what it is, I fear that this will only happen when the things that the Logic Mill is good at become important to a war.”
Sarah Michele
Nov 27, 2011 Sarah Michele rated it really liked it
This review isn't just about System of the World, but about the whole Baroque Cycle. The short version of the review is... I think he could have accomplished everything he set out to accomplish with these books in a third as much space. Finishing them felt like a test of endurance. I always have trouble keeping track of Stephenson's characters and plotlines but, again, this time there were simply too many for me to have half a chance. I felt like I needed a flowchart and a timeline.

All of this s
Ed van der Winden
Jul 18, 2015 Ed van der Winden rated it really liked it
A fine ending to this enormous series. I took my time reading them over the years (some of the earlier books more than once) and it was a great joy. There is so much in these books that I might very well revisit some or all of it someday.
Mar 09, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it
Stephenson makes beautiful prose in any situation. This whole series is sheer poetry. However, that poetry is mixed with piracy and bawdiness and makes for a story a little too 'real' for my tastes. I fully enjoyed the interwoven histories of coining, currency, finance, chemistry, and even alchemistry. The story is long and drawn out, albeit mixed with interesting tales of a jailbreak, something called the 'trial of the pix' and a formula for raising the dead. All in all, if this wasn't an audio ...more
Feb 04, 2015 Annie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-f, audible
A superb ending to such an epic series. I'm both thrilled to have finished the series, and also disappointed that it's over. I'll have to go back and re-read this series again sometime (when I have months of free time).
Stephen Holmes
Dec 19, 2011 Stephen Holmes rated it liked it
I found this entire series hard to get into. The second and third books were a little easier, but I still floundered around trying to get through the book. Many of the tangents were uninteresting to me (not a big fan of economics apparently) and hard to get through.

That being said, I did at least feel that the story told in the Baroque Cycle was finished up with this book, and the last half of the novel I found started to grab me and pull me in.

All in all, the series was not the greatest, and I
Kate Sherrod
Aug 21, 2015 Kate Sherrod rated it it was amazing
Always SO SAD to come to the end of this. Bravo to narrator Simon Prebble for making these books even more enjoyable than they are in print!!!
Erika RS
I have finished the Baroque Cycle! The book and the trilogy were highly enjoyable. More importantly, there was an ending. Yes, it is true. A Stephenson novel had an ending. A fairly decent one too. I think System of the World was my favorite of the three books. It was constantly amusing me.
Susan Chamberlain
Aug 14, 2011 Susan Chamberlain rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Loved it! I always feel so smart when I finish one of Stephenson's novels; not I can drop tidbits about Leibniz and life in 18th century England into conversation and sound really erudite. I will say that by the time you reach the end of this 3000-page trilogy, you will have forgotten what happened at the beginning, so read the books in close sequence if you can. I promise you will get a good laugh from Dappa's duel if you stick it out.
Mar 17, 2014 Mommalibrarian rated it really liked it
Lots of plots and plans, some tied up early and some waiting till close to the end of the story. A fair amount of swash and buckle for the action novel lover. Some philosophy for the natural scientist. The most amazing thing to me is that the author was able to restrict the knowledge and speculations of the characters to what was known in 1417. Lots of historical atmosphere and information; a few archaic words. A good read.
Travis of NNY
I read this series continuous from quicksilver to System of the World. I found the series in general to be excellent. Quicksilver was the one book I struggled through. This last installment did a pretty good job of winding things up. There were a couple points I would have liked to have seen in more detail, but not only is that getting into nit picking it probably would require a whole other book to be written.
Jan 10, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great payoff to an amazing series. So detailed and wonderfully rich, The Baroque Cycle is a wonder investment of time. I listened to the excellent unabridged audiobook series produced by Audible (2 years ago?) The 8 books end up totally ~125 hours of audio listening, but it is WELL worth it. The series is amazing for giving you a sense of what the world was like at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution.
Fiona Cox
May 18, 2014 Fiona Cox rated it it was amazing
I made it!

The Cycle is perhaps a little too wordy for my tastes, but I've learned a lot about the period in history and for the first time am curious to go an find out more about late 16th/early 17thC London. ;)

It was a good yarn, a little long, but satisfying to complete. I might go back at some point and start again - I think it might be easier to follow second time round.
Jul 16, 2013 Gabriela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, history
Books 1 and 2 were very entertaining and I believe one of the best historical fiction I've read. Book 3 drags a bit, but overall ties the story in very nicely.

The trilogy is supposed to be a prequel to Cryptonomicon, but reading it first kind of lays out the family history of the main characters, so when you start reading Cryptonomicon, its like reuniting with old friends.
Nov 06, 2014 Kevin rated it liked it
The last book in the series, it is a good conclusion. Overall, the series covers an interesting period in history. I think the author got caught trying to decide what this series would be. In the end it feels like a miniseries about the baroque period but the author kept trying to make a sci-fi. But he is a great writer this is an thoughtful book
Feb 18, 2011 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible, fiction
I enjoyed this whole convoluted series immensely. What I "read" were actually the editions, read by Simon Prebble, who is an absolutely brilliant narrator. Combine his expert reading with Stephenson's witty, complex prose, and you're left with the most entertaining series of books I've come across in a very long time.
William Showalter
Oct 26, 2012 William Showalter rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012

A good concluding novel to the series. Not the best book of the Baroque cycle, but still a good piece nonetheless. System Of The World primarily features Daniel Waterhouse running around being much more clever than he has any right to. I was a bit disappointed, however, that there wasn't any reappearance of Enoch Root.
Mar 13, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: 100-reasons-why
I finished! I think this books had my favorite parts of the trilogy in it. But there were substantial sections that I skimmed not that seriously. Did not make the game of seeing what details (especially from the end) mapped onto Cryptonomicon. But that's something to look for when you read it?
Jun 27, 2014 Rrrrrron rated it liked it
Shelves: post-tun
Finally, reached the end. It is ok and a satisfactory ending. Well written for historical sci-fi. But will not recommend and will not re-read.
Aug 09, 2011 Turan added it
I am deeply saddened because I finished "The System of the World" right now and do not know what to read afterwards... It is/was impressive. The Baroque Cycle were my first books of Stephenson and I am eager to read the very rest of them all.
Aug 28, 2013 Naomi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Wrapping up a long and extremely involved story takes a lot of work, and sometimes that labor becomes evident with even the most skilled of writers. Yet Neal Stephenson pulls it off in this fine conclusion to a fine series of tales.
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
More about Neal Stephenson...

Other Books in the Series

The Baroque Cycle (8 volume) (8 books)
  • Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1, Book 1)
  • King of the Vagabonds (The Baroque Cycle, Book 2)
  • Odalisque (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1, Book 3)
  • The Confusion, Part I (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2, Book 1)
  • The Confusion, Part II (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2, Book 2)
  • Solomon's Gold (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3, Book 1)
  • Currency (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3, Book 2)

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