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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) by…
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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Neal Stephenson

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7,113114505 (3.93)173
Member:sequelguy
Title:Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1)
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:Harper Perennial (2004), Paperback, 960 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:pleasure, read

Work details

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (2003)

  1. 30
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (ateolf)
  2. 00
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (ehines)
    ehines: Both interesting contemporary books set amidst the scientific enlightenment, Pears is a bit more historical where Stephenson is more flashily contemporary, but fans of one certainly should look at the other.
  3. 00
    The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson (Mind_Booster_Noori)
    Mind_Booster_Noori: Neal Stephenson retelling History with his excellent writing skills...
  4. 00
    Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan (Othemts)
  5. 00
    Water Music by T.C. Boyle (lyzadanger)
    lyzadanger: Similar buffoonish, humorous treatment of English historical figures.
  6. 01
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (YossarianXeno)
    YossarianXeno: Both are compellingly written historical novels
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» See also 173 mentions

English (111)  German (1)  All languages (112)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
It was very good. I loved the way the stories weave together and the amount of detail. I found it hard to put down for most of the book. There were parts that I found a bit tedious, but they were a small part of the story. By the end I was exhausted and need a break before starting the next volume. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 22, 2015 |
Excerpt: "What I do not understand is why you pretend to be interested in what happens to me. In the Hague, you saw me as a pretty girl who could skate, and would therefore catch Monmouth's eye, and make Mary unhappy, and create strife in William's house. And it all came to pass just as you intended. But what can I do for you now?"

"Live a beautiful and interesting life-and from time to time, talk to me."

Eliza laughed out loud, lustily, drawing glares from women who never laughed that way, or at all. "You want me to be your spy."

No mademoiselle, I want you to be my friend." D'Avaux said this simply, and almost sadly, and it caught Eliza up short.

End Excerpt.

Perhaps the most poignant part of the book.

This is divided in three parts and the style of the author is to relate the story within conversation back and forth between characters. The first character in part one is Daniel Waterhouse, a scientist, part two Jack Shaftoe, a vagabonding adventurer, and three back to Daniel with intervals of Eliza, Jack's woman for a time in part two. The middle about Jack is the the most interesting. Which was good because I was starting to get bored towards the end of part 1.

Overall not as good as I hoped. But book two starts off with the further adventures of Jack whose story ended with a cliff hanger in part two of vol one. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
A gloriously dense book, everything time it reminded me of something I learned in history class made reading the textbook even more worth it. I'm pretty sure I know Newton, Leibniz, lots of nobility. I'm looking forward to reading the other books but, even thought I'm a relatively fast reader, I can only read this when I'm fully awake which goes against my normal bedtime reading, so I go over my library's due date. What's interesting is that this is usually the sort of book I don't like, I have a really bad mind for names and relations and don't like looking up the dramatis personae too much. But, this book was still very amazing without looking up every character, that's how I know I love stepehensons books, they capture a world with a core of a few characters and a dearth of others

I couldn't give this enough stars ( )
  Lorem | Feb 26, 2015 |
I would have given this five stars despite the dearth of female characters (I was willing to excuse i on the grounds of the subject matter--Royal Society, Restoration), but there is a rape scene at the end of part two that is gratuitous and written with the male gaze in way that is so repugnant to me that I almost stopped reading. I really should drop it down another star, so strong was my negative reaction. What really upset me is that for a book that is so nuanced, there was nothing beyond the gross titillation of this scene, which really served no narrative purpose, and if any character development was afforded by it, it was none the author actually cared to develop. It was a few pages of a decision so poor on the part of the author that marred my enjoyment of 1000 other pages for me.

Otherwise, if you enjoy historical fictions, science, math, and physics, have any interest in the political convolutions of 18th century Europe or the beginning of the Royal Society, this book is gripping. ( )
  endlesserror | Dec 30, 2014 |
A wonderful ride, and great fun. I loved all three books of the Baroque Cycle _Cryptonomicon_. ( )
  JoePhelan | Dec 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gold, LisaFamily Treessecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kim, Jane S.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ShubhaniDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, NickCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Those who assume hypotheses as first principles of their speculations ... may indeed form an ingenious romance, but a romance it will still be.

— Roger Cotes,

Preface to Sir Isaac Newton's

Principia Mathematica,

second edition, 1713
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
In all times kings, and persons of sovereign authority, because of their independency, are in continual jealosies, and in the state and posture of gladiators; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns upon the frontiers of their kingdoms; and continual spies upon their neighbors; which is a posture of war.
— Hobbes, Leviathan
Dedication
To the woman upstairs
First words
Enoch rounds the corner just as the executioner raises the noose above the woman's head.
Quotations
"Crying loudly is childish, in that it reflects a belief, on the crier's part, that someone is around to hear the noise, and come a-running to make it all better. Crying in silence, as Daniel does this morning, is the mark of the mature sufferer who no longer nurses, nor is nursed by, any such comfortable delusions."
"'As I'm now beginning to understand–you are something of a virtuoso when it comes to manipulating men's mental states,' Monmouth said.
'You make it sound ever so much more difficult than it really is,' Eliza answered. 'Mostly I just sit quietly and let the men manipulate themselves.'"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the first volume of the three-volume edition. Please don't combine with the first volume of the eight-volume edition with the same title.
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060593083, Paperback)

In Quicksilver, the first volume of the "Baroque Cycle," Neal Stephenson launches his most ambitious work to date. The novel, divided into three books, opens in 1713 with the ageless Enoch Root seeking Daniel Waterhouse on the campus of what passes for MIT in eighteenth-century Massachusetts. Daniel, Enoch's message conveys, is key to resolving an explosive scientific battle of preeminence between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz over the development of calculus. As Daniel returns to London aboard the Minerva, readers are catapulted back half a century to recall his years at Cambridge with young Isaac. Daniel is a perfect historical witness. Privy to Robert Hooke's early drawings of microscope images and with associates among the English nobility, religious radicals, and the Royal Society, he also befriends Samuel Pepys, risks a cup of coffee, and enjoys a lecture on Belgian waffles and cleavage-—all before the year 1700.

In the second book, Stephenson introduces Jack Shaftoe and Eliza. "Half-Cocked" Jack (also know as the "King of the Vagabonds") recovers the English Eliza from a Turkish harem. Fleeing the siege of Vienna, the two journey across Europe driven by Eliza's lust for fame, fortune, and nobility. Gradually, their circle intertwines with that of Daniel in the third book of the novel.

The book courses with Stephenson's scholarship but is rarely bogged down in its historical detail. Stephenson is especially impressive in his ability to represent dialogue over the evolving worldview of seventeenth-century scientists and enliven the most abstruse explanation of theory. Though replete with science, the novel is as much about the complex struggles for political ascendancy and the workings of financial markets. Further, the novel's literary ambitions match its physical size. Stephenson narrates through epistolary chapters, fragments of plays and poems, journal entries, maps, drawings, genealogic tables, and copious contemporary epigrams. But, caught in this richness, the prose is occasionally neglected and wants editing. Further, anticipating a cycle, the book does not provide a satisfying conclusion to its 900 pages. These are minor quibbles, though. Stephenson has matched ambition to execution, and his faithful, durable readers will be both entertained and richly rewarded with a practicum in Baroque science, cypher, culture, and politics. --Patrick O'Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledgein 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 it is the tale of Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidate, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance" --Cover, p. 4.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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