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King of the Vagabonds: The Baroque Cycle #2…
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King of the Vagabonds: The Baroque Cycle #2 (The Baroque Cycle) (edition 2006)

by Neal Stephenson

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2641261,262 (3.96)6
Member:agbram
Title:King of the Vagabonds: The Baroque Cycle #2 (The Baroque Cycle)
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:HarperTorch (2006), Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, Historical Fiction,

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King of the Vagabonds by Neal Stephenson

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Least favorite of Stephenson's novels. Main characters seemed interesting at first, but after a while I just didn't care about them. ( )
  jklavanian | Aug 13, 2018 |
Again, this time around I'm enjoying the audio version, except for this: Prebble, voicing Eliza's dialogue, gives her a farcically throaty, husky voice that drives me right up the wall. since I really don't like this character anyway, that's a problem. But Jack is so good I mostly forgive. ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
I was initially very disappointed that this wasn't the continued story of Daniel Waterhouse. But I soon realized Jack Shaftoe was about a hundred times better. Why follow an inferior puritan natural philosopher who is more of an observer when you can follow a syphilitic homeless man that does whatever he wants?

This book was AMAZING. The first book in this series was interesting, but dry reading. Pretty much everything that Jack does is entertaining. This storyline fills us in on the continental impact of the politics that Daniel was observing among the rich in London in the first book, and continues on with a French and Dutch perspective.

Jack blunders into many semi-important points in history, and somehow always makes them better with his own contribution. He is HILARIOUS, which sounds unlikely if you've read a description of these novels. But this one definitely is. It gets better when we find out later his trials are being noted and rich people are reading about him in picaresque novels. The best is when he escapes prison and blunders into a French costume party, only to run into the King of France, who is dressed up as Jack Shaftoe the picaresque hero who recently escaped from prison. This was GOLD.

His clever ways out of situations, his progressively more elaborate hallucinations, and his various ends at the end of this novel are fantastic.

His lady love, Eliza, is also a great character, and would have been so much better if Jack wasn't outshining her on every page. She's a rescued slave that uses her feminine charms to learn politics and financial matters, so she can play the Dutch markets to earn a fortune to permanently abolish slavery. She has no problem with what people think of her sexual escapades (which are mostly imagined or implied), nor does she bat an eye when she needs to publicly execute someone. She holds her own in intrigues, and uses every scrap of information she can muster to work against slavery.

But her and Jack split up towards the end of the novel, and it alternates between her financial adventures in the Hague and Jack's escapades in Paris. I can tell you which section I was dreading every time.

This novel was so good that I picked up Odalisque almost immediately, and I almost always give myself time between books in a series. ( )
  ConnieJo | Dec 22, 2014 |
This is an awesome series. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
This is an awesome series. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is, doubtless, as much skill in pourtraying a Dunghill, as in describing the finest Palace, since the Excellence of Things lyes in the Performance; and Art as well as Nature must have some extraordinary Shape or Quality if it come up to the pitch of Human Fancy, especially to please in this Fickle, Uncertain Age.

Memoirs of the Right Villanous John Hall, 1708
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Mother Shaftoe kept track of her boys' ages on her fingers, of which there were six.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060833173, Mass Market Paperback)

A chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe -- London street urchin-turned-legendary swashbuckling adventurer -- 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:43 -0400)

A chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of 'Half-Cocked Jack' Shaftoe, London street urchin turned legendary swashbuckling adventurer, 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.… (more)

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