Customer Reviews for

The System of the World (Baroque Cycle Series #3)

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

    Excellent

    I can't tell you how impressed i am with this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2004

    Word Alchemy

    In 1714, Daniel Waterhouse finishes his long trip from America to England. He is prepared to mediate a vicious argument between Newton and Leibniz about who invented calculus first. But he is quickly caught up in diverse adventures: building a logic mill, sleuthing out a bomb maker, playing shell games with gold, and planning jailbreaks. Jack Shaftoe pops in here and there sowing mayhem and counterfeit coins. Eliza, the Countess de la Zeur by way of being 'Good with Money', continues her behind-the-scenes royal intrigues and her efforts to end slavery. Conflicts galore weave together into a complex tapestry: the power struggle between the Whigs and the Tories, the battle between Newton the Minter and Jack the Coiner, the feuding calculus inventors, and the clash between alchemy and science. In the end it all boils down to this: will the new system of the world be based on free markets and science? Or feudalism and alchemy? The third and final book in the Baroque Cycle is just as weighty as the first two. It features a quick synopsis of Quicksilver and The Confusion for those who need a refresher. Even with the summary, I wouldn't advise starting with the third book. Each of the books in the series has its own character. Quicksilver was all about set-up, so while it was rich in detail and characters, it could be slow and a bit disjointed at times. The Confusion was full of madcap adventures and the pieces just flew around the board. The System of the World wraps all of the previous threads together and strikes a nice balance between philosophy, intrigue, and action. Stephenson keeps up the expected torrent of words, but as with the other two books, he keeps your attention with an iron fist of plot in a velvet glove of delightful prose. Stephenson manages to seamlessly combine serious discussions, obscure trivia, and profound silliness. As a reader, you have to pay the same attention to all, because you never know what small detail the plot is going to hang on next. Daniel Waterhouse is the driving character for most of this book. If you loved The Confusion because it centered on Jack and Eliza, you might be disappointed in the smaller roles they play in the third book. But if you can get past that disappointment, you will find that Daniel has evolved into a more interesting and active character than he was in Quicksilver. The Baroque Cycle requires a substantial investment of time and attention, but it is well worth the effort. The System of the World is a satisfying end to a great series. With Stephenson, as in life, the journey is more important than the destination, and he definitely gives you a lot of journey in the 3000-or-so page trilogy.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific climax to the fantastic Baroque Cycle trilogy

    In 1714 Daniel Waterhouse arbitrates the irrational dispute between the aging mathematical giants Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, both angrily insisting they invented the calculus. However as the two greats brawl like street kids, Queen Anne nears death. The Jacobyte supporters contend with the Hanoverian sympathizers over the succession. Waterhouse fears for the future due to the monarchy dispute potentially harming intellectual pursuits and the math argument shredding collaborations.--- Meanwhile street schemer turned noble schemer Eliza de la Zour influences Caroline of Ansbach, consort of the heir to the English throne furthering her desires; while outlaw Jack Shaftoe struggles to avoid the hangman. As the world seems heading towards madness, Waterhouse tries to keep the rising chaos from turning the world back into another Dark Ages. His hope lies in technology and that rationale people will seek a reasonable solution irregardless of the Newton-Leibniz war, but he fears for the future though he sees a glimmer of light through brilliant inventions that will keep society from totally reversing itself.--- This final epoch to an incredible look at the beginning of the modern age is a terrific climax to the fantastic Baroque Cycle trilogy. The story line is packed with insight into the early eighteenth century especially a deep glimpse at some the most influential people of the age. Waterhouse is the glue that keeps the tale together though sidebars with Eliza and Jack stretch the hero¿s skills to the max. Satirically, as the throne contenders battle and the mathematical crown co-champions argue (ironically without logic) the inventors are the ones left standing alone keeping the light shimmering in a Shakespearean-like climax.--- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2004

    An Absolute Triumph!

    'The System of the World,' the last volume in Neal Stephenson's weighty and hugely idiosyncratic 'Baroque Cycle,' brings to a close what is nothing short of a contemporary literary masterpiece. Stephenson's glorious geek historical fiction is as meticulous and beefy as an encyclopedia (and sometimes reads like one), but as he weaves the patterns of this multitudious plot to a triumphant and ambitiously constructed finale, it's hard not to recognize how extraordinary an achievement this 'Baroque Cycle' represents. It is essentially one 2,636-page novel made up of eight books spread over three volumes, and despite its heft the story is never at any point unengaging - Stephenson is a master of pacing, and just when things start to glide into the bland, he jumpstarts the whole show with either portentious metaphysical combustion between historical characters such as Isaac Newton or Gottfried von Leibniz, or a blazing action sequence (volume 3 features a stunning, 30-page assault on the Tower of London). I cannot recommend a novel more highly than this trilogy!

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