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The Confusion: Volume Two of The Baroque Cycle Paperback – Jun 2 2005


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The Confusion: Volume Two of The Baroque Cycle + The System Of The World: Volume Three of the Baroque Cycle + Quicksilver: Volume One of the Baroque Cycle
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (June 2 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060733357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060733353
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #121,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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HE WAS NOT MERELY AWAKENED, but detonated out of an uncommonly long and repetitive dream. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A rambling tale filed with amazing stories and even more amazing characters. Jack Shaftoe takes us around the world in search of wealth and freedom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I ain't no porn writer on June 8 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a slow-paced narrative, without a clear straightforward plot, which requires more reading patience that your average historical novel. But the style is rich and the characters are engaging and very well-developed. The reader will be swept away by an adventurous tale of slavery, freedom, and fortune-hunting, among other storylines interwoven in this ambitious work. Indeed, this literary tale might not satisfy readers of more lightweight commercial fiction, but Neal Stephenson is a great stylist whose writing will appeal to the scholar in you.
David Rehak
author of "Love and Madness"
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By OpenMind TOP 100 REVIEWER on Jan. 2 2012
Format: Paperback
Stephenson follows up his marvelously detailed and entertaining "Quicksilver" with a continuation worthy of its predecessor. Jack Shaftoe, one of the three protagonists, drives his portion of the plot forward with swashbuckling abandon, travelling from his enslavement in Africa, to his daring heist of Solomonic Gold from a Spanish ship at Bonanza, to the markets in Egypt to try to sell this gold, to India where he begins as a near untouchable, working as a "feeder" of bloodsucking insects and ends up with a minor peerage. Finally, on to Japan to trade and then to the Americas, where he is double-crossed and imprisoned because of the treachorous Jesuit, Edouard de Gex. Scores are settled, new ones are tallied, and Jack takes it all with his deadpan humour, aplomb, and fatalism. Will he ever see England or his fair Eliza again?

Meanwhile, Daniel Waterhouse attempts to save Isaac Newton from the influence of Fatio, a Swiss sycophant and minor savant, who has encouraged Newton's descent into madness and continued obsession with Alchemy, to the detriment of Natural Philosophy. Waterhouse, torn between the doctrine his father left him with and the chance to change the course of history through politics (yikes!), economics (say it ain't so!), and science (egad!), hopes to reconcile his life of intrigue with his Puritanical upbringing.

Eliza continues to dabble in matters financial, using her oeconomic skills to gain favour in various courts. She befriends Caroline, a German princess, and Caroline's mother--not knowing that they will be in line for the crown of England.

Stephenson's detail, wit, and ability to craft a captivating story (albeit a long one!) shine once again in this novel, which adequately sets up Volume 3 ("The System of the World") and makes for a promising conclusion indeed.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beast of a book, wild, ferocious and full of mystery. One of those mysteries is the origin of the modern world. Using the medium of fiction, Stephanson strips away layer after layer of recieved wisdom and shows us how a few extrodinary people, and a great deal of ordinary ones, invented the modern notions of finance, banking, credit, trade, stock markets, globalization and the little matter of science. Yes, these people invented science as we know it. And Stephanson will show you the world they inhabited, page after page, untill you feel that you are amongst the greatest minds Europe ever produced.
Which is not to say that The Confusion is all about dry academic discourse. The first page of the book finds Jack Shafto miraculusly cured of syphilis, wandering confusedly on a beach while a fifteen hundred gun salute is fired in the honor of the Caliph. From there, we are engaged in one of the best travelouges, adventure stories and general assembiledges of all out mayhem ever collected in one volume.
In the spirit of equal oppertunities, this is not strictly a lads book. Equal time is given to Eliza, a former Harem virgin,and by her own wits and courage created a duchess in two nations. Also, by the end of the book, a mother of three.
Now, this is a long book, and jam packed with details. Like the art which insipred it's name, the book contains ever increasing levels of ornimentation and detail, built on mathimatically and geometricly pure lines. Well, curves actually. Quite often, the reader can become lost in the welth of images and imagry. Not to worry. Stephanson provides both Newton and Liebinitz to explain the nature of those curves and ornimentation. Even if the titans occasionally disagree.
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By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 17 2004
Format: Hardcover
Neal Stephenson's second volume in The Baroque Cycle, "The Confusion", is the best work of fiction I've seen from him in years. It is an intriguing, swashbuckling tale that is part of a three volume prequel to his celebrated "Cryptonomicon", of which this novel can be regarded as a historical fiction prequel. However, unlike "Cryptonomicon", Stephenson has offered an exciting tale of adventure, describing the advent of the information age during the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. Here Stephenson continues his dual saga featuring the "King of the Vagabonds" - adventurer and former slave - Jack Shaftoe as he travels through the Muslim world, India, Southeast Asia and the Americas with a motley crew comprised of Northern Europeans, Arabs and a Japanese Roman Catholic priest and Eliza, the Countess de la Zeur, his former lover. Stephenson has wrought daring sea battles reminiscent of Patrick O'Brian's best in the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series. And like O'Brian, he excels in writing dense, descriptive prose with some rathering modern twists thrown in. Until I read "The Confusion", I thought Stephenson's best novel was "The Diamond Age", but this is not a "confusion" but instead, a splendid celebration of Stephenson at his best, crafting lengthy, but exciting tales of adventure.
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