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Quicksilver

by Neal Stephenson

Other authors: Lisa Gold (Family Trees), Jane S. Kim (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Baroque Cycle (Vol. I, Books 1-3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,248149733 (3.9)227
Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in 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, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance. A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time. And it's just the beginning ... Performed by Simon Prebble and Stina Nielsen.… (more)
  1. 40
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (ateolf)
  2. 10
    Water Music by T.C. Boyle (lyzadanger)
    lyzadanger: Similar buffoonish, humorous treatment of English historical figures.
  3. 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.
  4. 00
    The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson (Mind_Booster_Noori)
    Mind_Booster_Noori: Neal Stephenson retelling History with his excellent writing skills...
  5. 00
    Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan (Othemts)
  6. 00
    Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (uncultured)
    uncultured: Quicksilver is to Mason & Dixon as Agatha Christie is to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  7. 01
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (YossarianXeno)
    YossarianXeno: Both are compellingly written historical novels
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» See also 227 mentions

English (143)  German (4)  All languages (147)
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
This is how you do historical fiction! A wide-ranging tale covering the history of royal families, court intrigue, early espionage and cryptography, scientific invention, finance, etc. Epic in every way. ( )
  donblanco | Jan 4, 2021 |
tried 2x and couldn't finish
  steveportigal | Dec 31, 2020 |
Great historical fiction of Europe during the Age of Enlightenment. It was a little tough to get into at the start due to all of the characters and background that needed to be established, but it picks up quite a bit in the last two thirds. I also like that I learned something about the people and events of the time period, which is something I don't get from the usual sci-fi/fantasy books I read. It was fun looking up some of the characters and events and finding that they really did exist or happen.

I'll probably take a short break to read some shorter books that I have been putting off, but I am looking forward to reading the other two ~1000 page books in the series! ( )
  cypher2048 | Dec 28, 2020 |
A charming tale of kidney stones, Vagabonds, and economics. ( )
  octoberdad | Dec 16, 2020 |
Delightful, if perhaps not for everyone's tastes. Stephenson sets this doorstopper of a novel in the early Age of Enlightenment, among such historical luminaries as Newton, Hooke, and Leibnitz, as well as their political contemporaries such as Charles II, Louis XIV and William of Orange. The author of [b:Cryptonomicon|816|Cryptonomicon|Neal Stephenson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327931476s/816.jpg|1166797] (to which this book is loosely connected) draws on similar themes about science and communication, but set centuries earlier. Stephenson clearly did abundant research into the period, and sprinkles his work with both obscure references and just the right amount of period jargon. As someone who's read a decent amount (but by no means extensively) about the period, I loved almost every page: even when the action lagged (as it sometimes did, especially in the first third, where Stephenson added a framing story involving a battle against pirates seemingly just to liven up the less exciting action of his main plot, and near the end, when too much of the action is told in the form of cyphered letters) the setting was immersive and enlivened with a droll wit. People who don't know their Leibnitz from their Leipzig might find the exhaustive detail less charming than I did, though the storytelling style is certainly much more accessible than, say, the self-consciously arty grammar of Wolf Hall. ( )
  dhmontgomery | Dec 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gold, LisaFamily Treessecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kim, Jane S.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräbener-Müller, JulianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ShubhaniDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, NickCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausTranslatorsecondary 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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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (1)

Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in 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, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance. A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time. And it's just the beginning ... Performed by Simon Prebble and Stina Nielsen.

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