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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: 13.5 x 3.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The title of Stephenson's vast, splendid and absorbing sequel to Quicksilver (2003) suggests the state of mind that even devoted fans may face on occasion as they follow the glorious and exceedingly complex parallel stories of Jack Shaftoe, amiable criminal mastermind, and Eliza, Countess de la Zeur, courageous secret agent and former prisoner in a Turkish harem. In 1689, Jack recovers his memory in Algiers, evades galley slavery and joins a quest for the lost treasure of a Spanish pirate named Carlos Olancho Macho y Macho. This leads to adventures at sea worthy of Patrick O'Brian, and hairbreadth escapes from the jaws of the Inquisition. Meanwhile, Eliza is captured by the historical (and distinguished) French privateer Jean Bart while trying to escape to England with her baby. She must then navigate the intrigues of the court of Louis XIV, which are less lethal than those of the Inquisition by a small margin, but still make for uneasy sleep for a friendless female spy. Her correspondence with such scientific minds as Wilhelm Leibniz helps propel the saga's chronicling of the roots of modern science at a respectable clip. Of course, one can't call anything about the Baroque Cycle "brisk," but the richness of detail and language lending verisimilitude t? the setting and depth to the characters should be reward enough for most readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This guy really likes to write long books. Cyptonomicon, his 1999 epic, was roughly the same length as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Quicksilver (2003), the first volume of his Baroque Cycle, was well over 900 pages, and this second installment is in the same ballpark. It picks up the story in 1689. Jack Shaftoe, self-proclaimed king of the vagabonds, is a galley slave, but that's soon going to change: he and nine of his fellow slaves engineer an escape. Their plan, to steal a cache of Spanish silver, turns out better (and also worse) than they could have imagined. Meanwhile, Eliza, a notorious spy whom Jack once rescued from a Turkish harem, is trying to get to London with her newborn baby. Set during one of history's most exciting times, from 1600 to 1750, this series brilliantly captures the intellectual excitement and cultural revolution of the era. With real-life supporting characters such as Isaac Newton and Wilhelm Leibnitz, the series blends fact and fiction so cleverly that it is virtually impossible to separate one from the other. Stephenson is a graceful writer, never getting bogged down in detail, keeping the story moving, dazzling us with his technique. The concluding volume of the trilogy is scheduled to appear in October 2004, and it's fair to say anyone who reads this one will spend the intervening months waiting with breathless anticipation. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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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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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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By Sam Saunders on July 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
Put simply: this book blows Quicksilver out of the water. All of the potential that the opening act showed really did come to fruition in this opus.
I'm not sure what else there is to say. To all of those people who gave up on Quicksilver because of its meandering and glacial tendencies, I would certainly recommend that you give this a whirl. It starts with the formation of one of the most unlikely cabals in all of literature, progresses to the hijacking of a ship filled with gold, then a circumnavigation of the world. And that's just half the book.
Back in Europe there is all sorts of intrigue -- spies, alchemy, infedelity, etc. Of course, there are trademark Stephenson educational tangents about things that have nothing to do with the story, like how watered steel is created.
Add it all up -- pirates, convicts, spies, alchemy, swashbuckling, war, science, and sex -- and it makes for one hell of a novel that doubles as a history book about the evolution of modern finance.
And it ends with one of the best cliffhangers in recent time. I can't wati until October!
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By M. Benefield on July 1 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just love reading the words Neal Stephenson writes. I love the swashbucking. I love the intrigue. I especially love his many digressions into subjects banal to esoteric. When, after years following the Cryptonomicon, I heard that he would release 3 volumes of a trilogy in the span of a year, I hoped that each would be a thousand pages. I have not been dissapointed.
When people ask me about Stephenson, I am never sure how to describe his work. If you define science fiction VERY broadly then it fits there, because it is fiction and science or technology plays a role. Snow Crash and Diamond Age were clearly scifi, Zodiac was more detective fiction, Cryptonomicon was techno-thriller/historical thriller. This trilogy is historical novel / swashbuckler / within a scifi or technothriller framework?!? In addition to the storyline which other reviewers have summarized nicely, the books deal with a variety of interesting themes like: comparitive social classes and structure in england, france, the german states, india, and a few others; the evolution of jargon; cryptology; the birth of modern science; and the birth of modern economics. And all this with a healthy dose action, how can you go wrong?
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