Cover of: Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Quicksilver

Volume One of The Baroque Cycle

1st ed.
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Last edited by Lisa
May 30, 2022 | History

Quicksilver

Volume One of The Baroque Cycle

1st ed.
  • 4.00 ·
  • 28 Ratings
  • 48 Want to read
  • 3 Currently reading
  • 34 Have read
Publish Date
Publisher
William Morrow
Language
English
Pages
927

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Previews available in: German English

Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver is here. A monumental literary feat that follows the author's critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Cryptonomicon, it is history, adventure, science, truth, invention, sex, absurdity, piracy, madness, death, and alchemy. It sweeps across continents and decades with the power of a roaring tornado, upending kings, armies, religious beliefs, and all expectations.

It 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 Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent a contentious continent 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--a historical epic populated by the likes of Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin, and King Louis XIV--Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time.

And it's just the beginning ...
(front flap)

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Edition Availability
Cover of: Quicksilver
Quicksilver: Roman
2006-05, Goldmann
Taschenbuch in German - 1. Auflage
Cover of: Quicksilver
Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycle
2004, Arrow Books
Paperback in English - printing (9)
Cover of: Quicksilver
Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycle
2004, Perennial
Paperback in English - 1st Perennial ed.
Cover of: Quicksilver
Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycle
2004, Arrow Books
Paperback in English - printing (12)
Cover of: Quicksilver
Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycle
2003, William Morrow
Hardcover in English - 1st ed.

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Book Details


Published in

New York, USA

Table of Contents

Quicksilver
King of the Vagabonds
Odalisque

Edition Notes

Maps on end pages.
US/CAN

Series
The Baroque Cycle #1/3
Genre
Fiction.
Copyright Date
2003

Classifications

Dewey Decimal Class
813/.54
Library of Congress
PS3569.T3868 Q53 2003, PS3569.T3868Q53 2003

The Physical Object

Format
Hardcover
Pagination
x, 927 p. ;
Number of pages
927

ID Numbers

Open Library
OL3564771M
Internet Archive
quicksilverstep00step
ISBN 10
0380977427
ISBN 13
9780380977420
LCCN
2002035752
OCLC/WorldCat
671807344, 681965293, 1036802234, 733703247, 861644256
Amazon ID (ASIN)
B000NQMAK4,
Google
gAfoFYhquw0C
Wikidata
Q101638442
Library Thing
4745313
Goodreads
44687777

Work Description

Volume One of The Baroque Cycle
(Not to be confused with Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle #1)

Quicksilver is a massive, exuberant and wildly ambitious historical novel that's also Neal Stephenson's eagerly awaited prequel to Cryptonomicon--his pyrotechnic reworking of the 20th century, from World War II codebreaking and disinformation to the latest issues of Internet data privacy.

Quicksilver, "Volume One of the Baroque Cycle", backtracks to another time of high intellectual ferment: the late 17th century, with the natural philosophers of England's newly formed Royal Society questioning the universe and dissecting everything that moves. One founding member, the Rev John Wilkins, really did write science fiction and a book on cryptography--but this isn't history as we know it, for here his code book is called not Mercury but Cryptonomicon. And although the key political schemers of Charles II's government still have initials spelling the word CABAL, their names are all different...

While towering geniuses like Newton and Leibniz decode nature itself, bizarre adventures (merely beginning with the Great Plague and Great Fire) happen to the fictional Royal Society member Daniel Waterhouse, who knows everyone but isn't quite bright enough for cutting-edge science. Two generations of Daniel's family appear in Cryptonomicon, as does a descendant of the Shaftoes who here are soldiers and vagabonds. Other links include the island realm of Qwghlm with its impossible language and the mysterious, seemingly ageless alchemist Enoch Root.

As the reign of Charles II gives way to that of James II and then William of Orange, Stephenson traces the complex lines of finance and power that form the 17th-century Internet. Gold and silver, lead and (repeatedly) mercury or quicksilver flow in glittering patterns between centres of marketing and intrigue in England, Germany, France and Holland. Paper flows as well: stocks, shares, scams and letters holding layers of concealed code messages. Binary code? Yes, even that had already been invented and described by Francis Bacon.

Quicksilver is crammed with unexpected incidents, fascinating digressions and deep-laid plots. Who'd believe that Eliza, a Qwghlmian slave girl liberated from a Turkish harem by mad Jack Shaftoe (King of the Vagabonds) could become a major player in European finance and politics? Still less believable, but all too historically authentic, are the appalling medical procedures of the time--about which we learn a lot. There are frequent passages of high comedy, like the lengthy description of a foppish earl's costume which memorably explains that someone seemed to have been painted in glue before "shaking and rolling him in a bin containing thousands of black silk doilies".

This is a huge, exhausting read, full of rewards and quirky insights that no other author could have created. Fantastic or farcical episodes sometimes clash strangely with the deep cruelty and suffering of 17th-century realism. Recommended, though not to the faint-hearted.


Book One: Quicksilver
Book Two: King of the Vagabonds
Book Three: Odalisque

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Excerpts

ENOCH ROUNDS THE CORNER JUST as the executioner raises the noose above the woman’s head.
added by Lisa. "first sentence."

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History

Download catalog record: RDF / JSON
May 30, 2022 Edited by Lisa Edited without comment.
March 18, 2022 Edited by ImportBot import existing book
October 4, 2021 Edited by ImportBot import existing book
October 4, 2021 Edited by ImportBot import existing book
October 15, 2009 Created by WorkBot add works page