Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Baroque Cycle

System Of The World

Normally, I wouldn't think it momentous enough to blog about my reading achievements (although I am sure it will come as a surprise that I am actually literate for some of you), but I have had to make an exception for my latest reading foray. After three books, 2652 pages and over six months of reading, I have finally finished Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle. The Baroque Cycle is Neal's prequel to his excellent "Cryptonomicon", which had hooked me years earlier due to my insomnia on my frequent long-haul over the Pacific flights, and carries on his habit of intensive researching detail and massive page counts.

Set in the late 1700s, the trilogy tells a fictional tale of the transformation of the world's economy weaved through the major historical events and characters of the time. As in the Cryptonomicon, we are again dealing with the mysterious Enoch Root, the Shaftoe and Waterson clans. Although the topic seems to have little to do with Neal's forte (Crypto and futurism), after the first few chapters, you can start to see the parallels. While I won't give too much away (after all there is a lot of detail in the 2600 pages), I found the first book interesting but somewhat slow and confusing, the second book spotty (although the sections with Pirate Jack were quite good) and the final books excellent.

Should you want to embark on this reading adventure, make sure you wait until all of three books appear in paperback -- the hardcovers are really heavy to read in bed:
"Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1)" (Neal Stephenson)
"The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2)" (Neal Stephenson)
"The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3)" (Neal Stephenson)

I am betting that Neal might make a (set of) book(s) that fit in between the Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle next.


spence said...


Anonymous said...

I'm truely in awe of your reading schedule. I've looked at the series but just haven't been able to get the initiative to start. I did the previous book but it took me forever.

Good luck on your next reading adventure.