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The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle,…
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The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3) (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Neal Stephenson

Series: The Baroque Cycle (Vol. III, Books 6-8)

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5,418701,444 (4.26)50
Neal Stephenson follows his highly-praised historical novels, Quicksilver and The Confusion, with the extraordinary third and final volume of the Baroque Cycle. The year is 1714. Daniel Waterhouse has returned to England, where he joins forces with his friend Isaac Newton to hunt down a shadowy group attempting to blow up Natural Philosophers with 'Infernal Devices' - time bombs. As Daniel and Newton conspire, an increasingly vicious struggle is waged for England's Crown: who will take control when the ailing queen dies? Tories and Whigs clash as one faction jockeys to replace Queen Anne with 'The Pretender' James Stuart, and the other promotes the Hanoverian dynasty of Princess Caroline. Meanwhile, a long-simmering dispute between Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz comes to a head, with potentially cataclysmic consequences. Wildly inventive, brilliantly conceived, The System of the World is the final volume in Neal Stephenson's hugely ambitious and compelling saga. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters in a time of genius, discovery and change, the Baroque Cycle is a magnificent and unique achievement.… (more)
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Title:The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3)
Authors:Neal Stephenson
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The System of the World by Neal Stephenson (2004)

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English (69)  Finnish (1)  All languages (70)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
As a whole, a slower finish to the trilogy than I'd expected, and in true Neal Stephenson fashion, the actual ending was more abrupt than I'd have liked... but still, I set this one down sorry to have it over. Way too clever in places, but I expected nothing less from him. Now I have to go and look to see what parts of the setting were historically accurate and which were made up. ( )
  qBaz | May 28, 2021 |
Wonderful book. This series is a multi-faceted jewel of historical and technological trends through the Baroque period. The combination of interesting original and historical characters draws you in and captivates you with their shared history and evolution. ( )
  jugglebird | Feb 18, 2021 |
First of all, wow! Feels good to have finally put a cap on these books after years of them glaring at me from book-baskets and shelves.

We're back to the three-books-in-one structure of Quicksilver, although the point of view hops around all over the place. The first and the last are incredibly enjoyable -- Solomon's Gold relates Daniel Waterhouse's return to Europe and conscription into Isaac Newton's efforts to capture Jack Shaftoe, now a criminal mastermind destroying the new currency that has been built up in the past two books. It's half political thriller, half Ocean's 11 (as Jack's storyline focuses on a spectacular break-in at the Tower of London). The final portion of the book (before a hefty set of epilogues), with the same title as the novel as a whole, splits its time between Jack's date with destiny at the hands of Jack Ketch, and Isaac and Daniel's date with destiny as the new King of England assesses the coins Newton has been churning out.

The middle bit, Currency, sort of defies description, but not in a good way -- there are some amusing parts as Daniel tries, again, to capture Shaftoe, and a spectacular showdown between Shaftoe and the villainous Father de Gex (who I was certain was a real person -- nice job, Stephenson), but ultimately it feels like Stephenson shunting around the major players like pieces on a board to line them up for the grand finale.

So, the question naturally arises: did Stephenson pull this off -- a three book, probably three-thousand-page trek through the dawn of modern science, economics, etc.? I'd say the answer is "pretty much" -- there are some big dropped threads along the way (namely Eliza, and her efforts to abolish slavery in England -- they feel like they were cut from this book, as Stephenson gets really close to going somewhere but then fails to deliver), but The Baroque Cycle is quite the ride and may (wonder of wonders) end up matching my all-time favorite Cryptonomicon for laughs, thrills, and deep dives into things never really thought about by most. Definitely recommended. Pack a lunch. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
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 |
I'm going to miss this series. ( )
  cypher2048 | Dec 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Neal Stephenson spent nearly 2,000 pages setting his convergent plots into motion in The System of the World, and they all collide brilliantly in the third and final installment of his Baroque Cycle.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Springer, NickCartographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräbener-Müller, JulianeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maestro, Laura HartmanGlobe illustrationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ShubhaniDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world, whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt with wandring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite Abyss
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight
Upborn with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile...
— Milton, Paradise Lost
There was the usual amount of corruption, intimidation, and rioting.

— Sir Charles Petrie, describing a Parliamentary election of the era.
It remains that, from the same principles, I now demonstrate the frame of the System of the World.

— Newton, Principia Mathematica
Dedication
To Mildred
First words
"Men half your age and double your weight have been slain on these wastes by Extremity of Cold," said the Earl of Lostwithiel, Lord Warden of the Stannaries, and Rider of the Forest and Chase of Dartmoor, to one of his two fellow-travelers.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the third volume of the three-volume edition. Please don't combine with the eighth volume of the eight-volume edition with the same title.
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Neal Stephenson follows his highly-praised historical novels, Quicksilver and The Confusion, with the extraordinary third and final volume of the Baroque Cycle. The year is 1714. Daniel Waterhouse has returned to England, where he joins forces with his friend Isaac Newton to hunt down a shadowy group attempting to blow up Natural Philosophers with 'Infernal Devices' - time bombs. As Daniel and Newton conspire, an increasingly vicious struggle is waged for England's Crown: who will take control when the ailing queen dies? Tories and Whigs clash as one faction jockeys to replace Queen Anne with 'The Pretender' James Stuart, and the other promotes the Hanoverian dynasty of Princess Caroline. Meanwhile, a long-simmering dispute between Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz comes to a head, with potentially cataclysmic consequences. Wildly inventive, brilliantly conceived, The System of the World is the final volume in Neal Stephenson's hugely ambitious and compelling saga. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters in a time of genius, discovery and change, the Baroque Cycle is a magnificent and unique achievement.

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