Customer Reviews for

Quicksilver (Baroque Cycle Series #1)

Average Rating 4
( 129 )
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5 Star

(67)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(10)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

people who rate this below a 4 don't get it.

Thusfar all the 'complaints' regarding this book are that it's too long, the dialog is too stiff, and that there's no plot. History doesn't have a plot. Life doesn't have a plot. This book is a portrait of what life was like in the 1600's. It's not a neatly packaged ...
Thusfar all the 'complaints' regarding this book are that it's too long, the dialog is too stiff, and that there's no plot. History doesn't have a plot. Life doesn't have a plot. This book is a portrait of what life was like in the 1600's. It's not a neatly packaged story with a clear beginning and ending. Think of the Baroque Cycle books as a history lesson with personality. If you don't like history, or don't care about how aspects of our lives came to pass, then this isn't the book for you. As for the 'passivity' of the characters in the story... in order to maintain the historical integrity of real world events the *fictional characters* kinda need to be passive. Daniel Waterhouse doesn't do anything of consequence because Daniel Waterhouse didn't really exist... what would you have him do? Invent something? Cure something? Kill someone? Daniel Waterhouse is the camera-man through which we can watch Neal Stephenson's retelling of real-world history. If you want pure fiction, look elsewhere. This is a masterfully disguised history lesson.

posted by Anonymous on December 1, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Stephenson has done much better

As a Stephenson fan, I opened this book with high hopes. Alas, they were quickly dashed. He shovels up mountainous descriptions of landscapes and architecture and period costumery, religious and political and scientific intrigues, but all to no purpose in advancing th...
As a Stephenson fan, I opened this book with high hopes. Alas, they were quickly dashed. He shovels up mountainous descriptions of landscapes and architecture and period costumery, religious and political and scientific intrigues, but all to no purpose in advancing the action. A second flaw is that he pastes much of this description into dialogue form, making conversations between the characters stilted and artificial. Stephenson is undeniably brilliant; but he needs to cut more and write tighter. What might have been a decent 400-page story unfortunately balloons to 900+ pages.

posted by Anonymous on February 28, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2006

    people who rate this below a 4 don't get it.

    Thusfar all the 'complaints' regarding this book are that it's too long, the dialog is too stiff, and that there's no plot. History doesn't have a plot. Life doesn't have a plot. This book is a portrait of what life was like in the 1600's. It's not a neatly packaged story with a clear beginning and ending. Think of the Baroque Cycle books as a history lesson with personality. If you don't like history, or don't care about how aspects of our lives came to pass, then this isn't the book for you. As for the 'passivity' of the characters in the story... in order to maintain the historical integrity of real world events the *fictional characters* kinda need to be passive. Daniel Waterhouse doesn't do anything of consequence because Daniel Waterhouse didn't really exist... what would you have him do? Invent something? Cure something? Kill someone? Daniel Waterhouse is the camera-man through which we can watch Neal Stephenson's retelling of real-world history. If you want pure fiction, look elsewhere. This is a masterfully disguised history lesson.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    On my all-time top 10 list

    Although this is fictional and staged during one of the greatest periods of scienctific discovery, it is not science fiction. The many historical characters act and perform as they did in their exciting times. Questioning everything, from science to religion to financial systems to governmental forms, the delightfully real and fictional characters live each day to learn, educating the reader at the same time. Lest this 1000 page volume 1 of the Baroque Trilogy sound daunting, rest assured that the creative inclusion of lovable scoundrels keep you laughing and wondering what mess is around the next corner. A sure bet for avid readers with scientific, financial, historical, or philosophical interests.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2011

    inflappably incredible

    this and its two sequels are the a great way to escape into a past that might have been with a touch here and there of 'hmmm' and a lot more hilarity. Go Neal Go

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    WoW!

    I'm floored! At my age, I'm learning new vocabulary, more about the 1600's than I can believe, and can put down my Nook.

    Neal Stephenson will have my attention while I read all he has written.

    I recommend this book to all my friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    LIBRARY

    Here. Get a book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    I will admit, the book starts slowly and it took me some time to

    I will admit, the book starts slowly and it took me some time to get into it.  Once I did, I was hooked.  This book was the first time I was so engrossed in my reading that I missed my stop on the bus.

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  • Posted February 7, 2012

    Startling

    The author brings to life what may well be the most important decades of western civilisation

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

    Wow

    A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2005

    A Fantastic Epic

    It seems fair to say that this book would not have made a good movie. The plot has an infinite number of tangents, the pacing is meticulous, the dialogue and descriptions are mercilessly overwhelming, and the multitudes of characters, family trees, and titles of nobility are so extensive could easily go mad, or at least frustrated. That said, as a book¿no, as a novel¿better yet, as an epic, this is easily one of the greatest and most entertaining pieces of historical literature ever written. Far from being just a instructive illustration on seventeenth century Europe (a task which it fulfills accurately and entirely), this first volume of the Baroque Cycle is infused with the type of humor and wit that manages to poke fun at every misfortune of the social lives of its subjects, from the failures and absurdities of government, to the trials on the quest for knowledge, even to the universal paradox of dealing with women (especially concerning Shaftoe¿s infatuation with Eliza). While at times it can feel a little heavy and even mentally draining, Stephenson¿s prose presents even familiar subjects in a surprisingly inventive manner, managing to depict the times with instances of jargon and empiricism without losing the author¿s colloquial and always humorous tone. Be warned, this is no light read. Not to say that it is boring, for it is far from it. Rather, the book is so incredibly dense that even at their vast length, cramming close to a century¿s worth of European history into each volume must¿ve been a daunting task. For those who wish for a standard novel, complete with its formulaic plot, conflicts, climax, solution, etc., stay away. This book isn¿t that. It¿s more than that. Each of it¿s close to 1,000 pages is rich in humor, most of which is so subtle that failing to notice defeats the author¿s purpose: to present a single yet interesting period in history in the most entertaining and enjoyable fashion. You may feel intimidated and overwhelmed at first, but stay with it. Your high school history class was never this exciting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2004

    More Great Stuff from Stephenson

    Very good book if you like historical fiction; might even draw you into the genre if you're not a fan already! I do kind of long for the older, high-tech stuff Neal used to write (and new guy John Robert Marlow writes now; see novel called NANO).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2004

    Massively Entertaining Scope

    Daniel Waterhouse is summoned to return to Europe from Massachusetts to resolve a dispute between prominent mathematicians Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. During his voyage, which is interrupted by pirates, he works on a chronicle of his past, which is set against a rich tapestry of religious, political and scientific revolutions. Daniel evolves from a young Puritan roommate of Isaac Newton to courtier and natural philosopher of the Royal Society. While Daniel follows the great scientific minds of the era, Jack Shaftoe, vagabond extraordinaire, careens through colorful misadventures all over Europe. He rescues the bright and beautiful Turkish slave Eliza from the siege of Vienna. Together, they travel across Europe to Amsterdam, home to budding financial markets. Eliza's quest for fortune and revenge on her enslaver lead her deep into political plots and catapult her to Paris where she captures the attention of the King. Jack moves on in his adventures and attracts a different kind of attention altogether. As the fortunes of kings and countries rise and fall, the paths of our intrepid characters twist and cross over the vast scope of history. Quicksilver is not science fiction in the classic sense - do not expect aliens, futuristic technology or time-travel. Quicksilver is historical fiction that takes place in the 17th and 18th centuries. Large portions of the book cover the birth of modern science and math. Other broad subjects encompass European political intrigue, war and the development of financial markets. But this is no dry, tame history - this is alive and kicking. Having read Stephenson's book Cryptonomicon adds an extra dimension of interest to reading Quicksilver, since the main characters are ancestors of the characters in Cryptonomicon. The one exception is Enoch Root who appears in both books and is apparently ageless. Quicksilver does not have a neat resolution, and contains a large amount of set up material - it is very obviously the first book in the trilogy. It is also massive, and with two more massive books to follow, you need to be prepared to devote a serious amount of time to this series. Nobody can deny that Stephenson is wordy, but for such a long book, there weren't too many places where I found my attention wandering. Stephenson keeps things moving along even during some fairly detailed explanations of science or politics. He also plays around with different styles of writing, such as writing a chapter as if it was a period play. It gives a feel for the times as well as varying the pace. The three lead characters balance each other out nicely. Daniel can be a very passive character, which contrasts with Eliza's plotting and scheming. Just when the going gets too heavy, Jack provides physical action and comic relief. The main trio interact with an enormous cast of characters and one of the things I like best about Stephenson's writing is that he takes time to make even his secondary characters interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004

    How Did I Miss This One?

    I am a rabid reader of historical fiction - Eco, Dunnett, Norfolk, Finney, Kurzweil. Not since Norfolk's 'Lempriere's Dictionary' or Kurzweil's 'A Case of Curiosities' have I been so depressed to see a book come to an end. The characters, dialogue, erudition and scene-setting of Stephenson is fantastic. I hate to mention movies in the same breath as books, but this writing rendered as vividly in my head as if it were film. Highly recommended and can't wait for volume 2!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2003

    Alchemy & History with Intrigue Mixed In

    Neal Stephenson has written other such greats as Cryptonomicon and now Quicksilver. Quicksilver is an epic 4 part series, Quicksilver Volume One in Baraquoe Cycle. This book is historical fiction based on 18th Century Thinking, greats such as Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Louis XIV, Gottfried von Leibniz, Samuel Pepys, Bishop John Wilkins and the William and Mary and many others are mentioned in this novella. The story is basically a tour of science, politics, history, religion, and the way in which all of these themes interplay with each other with their characters. Calculus, Invention, Theory, Mathematics, Engineering, all are thrown together as these characters yearn to define themselves in history as the greats we know them to be amidst the ever changing new world with all its political plots, changing empires, religious rules and structures. Definately worth your time, though it is a hefty read at 800 pages, and 3 more are left.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2003

    A truly fascinating book

    Stayed up until 2.30 last night to be able to finish it. Can't wait for the next one. That doesn't mean this is an easy read. But it provides a fascinating insight in how life must have been in the 17th century and what dedication and overall ingenuity the scientist of these ages had to possess to discover phenomena such as gravity. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in things like history, philosophy, science, politics, strategy, etc.

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