This book is #2 in the Baroque Cycle. If you are considering this one, then I would expect that you have already listened to “Quicksilver”, the first book in the series.
I listened to this book because I couldn’t believe that a series could rate as high as this series does with a lead-off book (Quicksilver) that was as poor as that one was. This one had to be much better, right? Okay, to be fair, it was better. It was even much better, but the first book was so poor that being much better than “Quicksilver” meant that “King of the Vagabonds” was still average or a bit below.
The biggest improvement with this book is that this book actually has a story, with a beginning, a middle, and a hanging ending. The ending is such that it leaves you wondering how an author could leave the characters in such a state, but of course then you realize that this is a series. I am unwilling to spend any more time on this series just to learn what happens to the characters in it.
The writing is good, the narration is also fine, but the story left me flat at the end. I do wonder how the author ties up the ends that are left loose in this book, but not enough that I’m willing to listen to any more in this series.
This book doesn’t refer back to anything from the first book in any but the most superficial way. If I had skipped the first book and started the series with this one, I wouldn’t have missed anything. Had I done that, I might have even gone on to the next book. But one dud (Quicksilver) followed by a book that ends like a soap opera (King of the Vagabonds) isn’t something that I want to pursue for another five books and 87+ hours.
In the end, this book does at least have a story, which is an improvement on “Quicksilver”. Without pursuing the rest of the series I can’t speak with certainty, but I would recommend that you start with this book if you absolutely MUST get these books.
What a fun book, in between swashbuckling adventure and rescuing beauties, Mr. Stephenson teaches us history and we rarely notice we're learning!
King of the Vagabonds, Jack Shaftoe, must be the progenitor of Cap'n Jack Sparrow! Although the adventures of Jack Shaftoe circumnavigate the world.
The action picks up a notch and the characters are fewer, making it easier to follow. Also not as much jumping around compared to Quicksilver. Still the main focus of the book, like Quicksilver, is the rich historical period. The historical aspect of the series still seems to dominate the fictional characters and plots. Stephenson though writes extremely well and makes it come alive and interesting. Not dry historical fiction which tends to dominate the books I get. The narration continues to be top rate and probably makes this book a 5 star rather than a 4 star. Looking forward to book 3 in the series.
I would read it but not listen again. There is so much information and history I would need to really have time to absorb it all.
Cryptonomicon,by the same author, is equally full of information and funnier than King of the Vagabonds (which is really only the second half of the first book of the Baroque Trilogy titled Quicksilver).
Yes, part one of the this book. Equally good.
This is not a separate book from Quicksilver; this is the second half. I am NOT pleased that you sell it as two books!
I am listening to the series. This book has been the easiest to follow so far. They all seem to jump around, unless you are paying close attention you will loose your place. I would have rated it lower, but I am comparing it to the rest of the series.