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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle (8 volume) #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,102 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
This 2010 edition contains only book one of the Baroque Cycle. (It is not the three book volume originaly published in 2004 with the title of "Quicksilver.")

Quicksilver opens in 1713 with the ageless Enoch Root seeking Daniel Waterhouse on the campus of what passes for MIT in eighteenth-century Massachusetts. Daniel, Enoch's message conveys, is key to resolving an explosiv
Audio CD
Published August 27th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Kat  Hooper
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
[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
Clif Hostetler
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
Dec 05, 2008 marked it as lemmed  ·  review of another edition
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 reall
Jeff Bottrell
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 understan
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
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 ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Nice book, more educational and less entertaining than Cryptonomicon. I'm on to the next book in The Baroque Cycle.
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Review to come.
John Boettcher
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 w
Seth Kaplan
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 wit
Sep 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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.
I dont know enough about the history of Calculus/Algebra/whatthefuckever to be able to appreciate this. Shame.
Shana Yates
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
M Christopher
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 ...more
Navaneethan Santhanam
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 ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is going to be a lifetime project.
And, when do I suppose it's right to start Volume 2?
Eile Begley
Although there were some fascinating little factoids throughout this historical fiction piece, the dialogue was too pedantic to really enjoy.
Michael Nash
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 g
Douglas Gorney
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.
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 Stephenson

14 hrs and 48 mins

Publisher's Summary

In this first volume of Neal Stephenson’s genre-defying epic, Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowl
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 m ...more
Mark Ryall
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
William Showalter
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2012
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 epoc
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jonathan Pettit
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 o ...more
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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) (9 books)
  • King of the Vagabonds (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1, 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)
  • The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3, Book 3)
  • La confusión Libro 3
“The mysterious Enoch Root meets 8-year-old Benjamin Franklin, Boston, 1713:
"Do I look like a schoolmaster to you?"
"No, but you talk like one."
"You know something of schoolmasters, do you?"
"Yes, sir," the boy says, faltering a bit as he sees the jaws of the trap swinging toward his leg.
"Yet here it is the middle of Monday—"
"The place was empty 'cause of the Hanging. I didn't want to stay and—"
"And what?"
"Get more ahead of the others than I was already."
"If you are ahead, the correct thing is to get used to it—not to make yourself into an imbecile. Come, you belong in school.”
More quotes…