The System of the World
The world is a most confused and unsteady place -- especially London, center of finance, innovation, and conspiracy -- in the year 1714, when Daniel Waterhouse makes his less-than-triumphant return to England's shores. Aging Puritan and Natural Philosopher, confidant of the high and mighty and contemporary of the most brilliant minds of the age, he has braved the...more
So here I am, trying to wrap up the last book of the The Baroque Cycle. This thing has gotten completely out of control. I knew it’d be huge when I planned it, but this story has sprawled everywhere. What the hell was I thinking? Any one of the story threads I’ve had going could be a fair sized novel in itself. Now I gotta gather them all up and try to come up with some kind of coherent ending. I’m not going to have a fan left if I don’t wrap this up ...more
People often asked me what these books are about. Er. It's a story of alchemy (human more than chemical), economics, word origins, English history, history of science, philosophy, bravado, character and a little love. Like all of Stephenson's work thus far, it is large and contains multitudes — co ...more
The Baroque cycle is a massive, epic, depressingly wide reaching body of creative work which, I believe, has made several well respected fantasy/sci-fi novelists give up and go home. If it hasn't, it definitely should. It's just so.... big. And while there are a lot of authors who have written large things (the Lord of the Rings, the Wheel of Time, a Son ...more
Finalmente, después de lo que me parece una vida, llegó la conclusión, más que satisfactoria, de la saga. Este último tramo me pareció el mejor de los tres volúmenes. La lectura se me hizo lenta porque la verdad no es una obra que se pueda leer de un tirón. Requirió de ...more
(review on first read 2008) Superb ending - in all senses of the word - to the Baroque trilogy and a must for people who love historical fiction a la Dumas or D. Dunnett. The light sf-nal elem ...more
It has everything. An around the world sea voyage. The Barbary corsairs. Love triumphing over death. Women trimuphing over men. The beginnings of the Enlightenment. Battles. The formation of the monetary system. A duel with unconventional firearms. Blackbeard. Peter the Great. And a gaggle of mathematicians.
Extensively researched historical fiction, I've been hard ...more
Any Man, when he shall have completed a Taſk, be it one which he has aſsigned to Himſelf, or an Impoſition from ſome external Party, may experience a certain Euphoria. I write here of two such Taſks which have been completed, videlicet, primo, the Exertions of Master STEPHENSON in writing the Series of Romances, commencing with Cryptonomicon and continued in Quickſilver, The Confuſion, and the Volume here under Conſideration; and secundo, my own Expenditure ...more
My usual complaint about Stephenson's detail-driven writing does not apply to The System of the World. Perhaps the first two insta ...more
The first novel, Quicksilver had three protag ...more
I was tricked into reading this, but I'm glad because why else would I have started in on this 2700 page trilogy? Years ago Neal Stephenson intrigued and thrilled me with his cyber-punk classic "Snowcrash" so that I could see where he was going with "Diamond Age" a neo-victorian culture in an incredibly futuristic world. By the time I read "Cryptonomicon" I had enough trust in him as an author to take me through a lot of reading involving multiple characters and time periods and to know it was g...more
This concluding book in the trilogy focused mostly on England and Daniel's relationship with Isaac Newton, counterfeit coins, politics, explosions, Infernal Machines, gold, science and Systems Of The World. Not quite as crazy as the previous two, with a much tighter story, but still a wonderful ride in the past.
The basic plot is that of a murder mystery, but comprises many other components. Daniel Waterhouse has completed his epic trip back a ...more
It's probably best not to think of these books as three huge tomes, but instead like a longer series of eight normal-sized novels (which the three are divided up into, with the complication that nos. 4 and 5 are told in parallel) or like eight seasons of some well-produced TV show. I wish it had been eight volumes, actually. I never would have been stupid enough to try reading an octology straight through.
Like anything that long, there were gre ...more
I don't have too much to say ...more
His characters on many levels are extremely profound and complex, except when it comes to th ...more
I have 40+ books sitting on my 'review-soon' shelf that I just don't have time to write proper reviews for, so I'm going to bash ...more
Stephenson as an excellent but disappointing writer has been the theme of my reviews since - oh, so long ago, my darlings - I began reading him first with the Cryptonomicon and then, in its immediate wake, (or 'aftermath' may here be a better word), headed down the difficult road of reading all three volumes of his B ...more
In this volume, unlike ...more
It took me 6 months to work my way through these three thousand-page tomes (Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World), but I feel like I've lived a lifetime of experience in that time.
Go into these books by treating them as historical fiction (even if they have elements of other genres). I learned 10x more about the late 1600's by reading these books than all the history classes I've ever taken. Through these books, you will see (o ...more