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Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycleby Neal Stephenson
Synopses & Reviews
In this wonderfully inventive follow-up to his bestseller Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson brings to life a cast of unforgettable characters in a time of breathtaking genius and discovery, men and women whose exploits defined an age known as the Baroque.
Daniel Waterhouse possesses a brilliant scientific mind — and yet knows that his genius is dwarfed by that of his friends Isaac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and Robert Hooke. He rejects the arcane tradition of alchemy, even as it is giving birth to new ways of understanding the world.
Jack Shaftoe began his life as a London street urchin and is now a reckless wanderer in search of great fortune. The intrepid exploits of Half-Cocked Jack, King of the Vagabonds, are quickly becoming the stuff of legend throughout Europe.
Eliza is a young woman whose ingenuity is all that keeps her alive after being set adrift from the Turkish harem in which she has been imprisoned since she was a child.
Daniel, Jack, and Eliza will traverse a landscape populated by mad alchemists, Barbary pirates, and bawdy courtiers, as well as historical figures including Samuel Pepys, Ben Franklin, and other great minds of the age. Traveling from the infant American colonies to the Tower of London to the glittering courts of Louis XIV, and all manner of places in between, this magnificent historical epic brings to vivid life a time like no other, and establishes its author as one of the preeminent talents of our own age.
"[T]he great trick of Quicksilver is that it makes you ponder concepts and theories you initially think you'll never understand, and its greatest pleasure is that Stephenson is such an enthralling explainer....[A] wonderment to behold. (Grade: A-)" Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
"Sparkling prose, subtle humor, and a superb knowledge of the period make this grand feast of a novel a mandatory choice....Highly recommended." Library Journal
"As rich in character sketches as it is in well-developed scenes, Quicksilver will have readers — especially the history buffs among them — happily turning all its many pages." Roland Green, Booklist
"The meandering, dense narrative...proves one thing: he needs an editor....An incorrigible showoff, Stephenson doesn't know when to stop, but that's a trifle compared to his awe-inspiring ambition and cheeky sense of humor." Kirkus Reviews
"Budding geniuses...will gladly immerse themselves in Quicksilver's mercurial amalgam of science, fiction, and history....But jeez, Neal, 3,000 pages? Newton invented calculus in less time than it'll take to read about it." Paul Boutin, Slate.com
"It's a terrific book, but don't expect it to resemble Stephenson's prior books in anything but ambition and length." Christina Schulman, Slashdot
Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver is here. A monumental literary feat that follows the author's critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Cryptonomicon, it is history, adventure, science, truth, invention, sex, absurdity, piracy, madness, death, and alchemy. It sweeps across continents and decades with the power of a roaring tornado, upending kings, armies, religious beliefs, and all expectations.
It is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing 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. It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe — London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer and legendary King of the Vagabonds — risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox ... and Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent a contentious continent through the newborn power of finance.
A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life — a historical epic populated by the likes of Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin, and King Louis XIV — Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time.
And it's just the beginning ...
About the Author
Neal Stephenson is the author of seven previous novels. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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