There are parts of this book that are fascinating and beautifully written, but it needs trimming. I survived the first few chapters that were little more than an extended history lesson disguised as a conversation. It got tedious, quickly, because I kept wondering what the story was about.
The characters are interesting, the work they are involved in is interesting - but again, there is too much unnecessary description and detail. It's as overdone as Baroque design. For example, in the section where Daniel joins the natural philosophers at the Comstock estate during the plague, we are treated to extensive discussions of every experiment by every one of the people present, an endless (albeit occasionally hilarious) round of dissections, weird concepts that don't turn out well. Not only did most of this not move the plot forward, the level of animal cruelty became gratuitous and disgusting. . If you are a person who is at all squeamish about live animal dissection - you probably want to avoid this book.
The question on my mind after a while was, WHY? Why drag all this out? I kept wanting to know what happened next in the greater context and the book never seemed to get there. I gave up.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
I don't understand why some listeners are having a hard time getting through "Quicksilver." We all need to remember that this is just the first book of eight in The Baroque Cycle series. If you haven't read anything from Neal Stephenson before, please stop reading this review and go get some of his other titles to get familiarize with his style of writing.
That being said, I found "Quicksilver" to be excellent with the quirky math and the overall history of the 17th and 18th centuries in the European era. The characters are not all strict and serious. In fact, they are pretty humorous.
Like a five course meal, you start with a soup and salad. In the Baroque Cycle, there are seven more courses to go. I really enjoy at understanding the premise and hungry for more plates.
Just think as "Quicksilver" as an eight course meal that you just started.
Confusing which characters were talking and who the story was about.
Narrator had a good voice.
Frustration, very difficult to follow who was talking and where the story was going.
I like the honest description of how the time period was, the story was just too jumbled with little or no direction.
I'll attempt to finish this book!
Nothing... Neal Stephenson describes the era very well, and writes extremely well, but the story is inexistent... it is simply a chronicle of the time. Nothing happens at the end of Book I of Quicksilver.
Disappointment in the narrative.
Audible does not describe this title correctly. It is NOT Book I of the Baroque Cycle, but Book I of Quicksilver. I am missing 2 other books to complete the printed edition of the book Quicksilver. The book Quicksilver which is actually Volume I of the Baroque Cycle! ... and I'll probably have to purchase the other 2 books to be able to read the whole of Volume I of the Baroque Cycle.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
There are a lot of reasons one might be tempted to skip this book (too long, not interested in old English history, no female characters, no plot), but one very good reason to pick it up: amazing writing. Although the themes of this novel and Snow Crash (still my favorite Stephenson novel) couldn’t be more different, the same brilliant writing is present in each. In Quicksilver, Stephenson fascinates with an account of the beginnings of modern science in the 1600s in England, throwing in a good bit of English history to boot. Want to know why coins have little markings on their sides? How sundials work? When the burning of London happened? What kinds of experiments the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge did in the first years after its founding? It’s all here, along with pirates, religion, politics, wars and blunderbusses. There’s barely a plot to hold it all together, but still I couldn’t put it down. I am definitely going to be reading the next book in the series.
[I listened to this as an audio book performed by Simon Prebble and Kevin Pariseau. They did a marvelous job. I decided to listen at 1.25 speed, which was great, really made the book fly by. I finished in about a week! I would highly recommend this as a truly enjoyable listen.]
I generally enjoy Neal Stephenson's work and am a huge fan of historical fiction, however, this story was difficult to endure.
I really tried to like this book, but I just could not get into it. Maybe it is one of those stories that is better read then listened too.
I come from Ireland, went to college in the States, and now live and work in Japan.
This book is the first of the Baroque Cycle series ... which seems to go on forever and ever and ever. That is actually a Good Thing because Stephenson draws the reader into the convoluted secret world of the 17th century (with, admittedly, a few lapses and boring bits en route) in such a way that s/he will never quite see it the same way again. The research that must have gone into the writing of this series is nothing short of colossal but Stephenson never quite parades it in our faces -- although coming close from time to time -- but puts it to the service of a rip-roaring tale that seems to gather speed as it moves along. Cabals, codes, cyphers, the adulteration of the money supply, pirates, the Turkish siege of Vienna, Newton, Leibnitz, Louis XIV, the political manoeuvring behind the Hanoverian succession to the British throne (their descendants still occupy the position)... it's all there, with much more besides. This book comprises the overture to a heaving seething gallimaufry of a work which can be totally exhilarating or totally exhausting depending upon the reader's response to the ideas, themes and speculations which it introduces.
This book does a great job of presenting Issac Newton and the royal society as a work of fiction. I am unsure how closely Neal follows actual history, but it is very insteresting regardless. The book does some rambling but manages to build up to plot peaks regularly.
I enjoyed this book immensely, but I have no idea what the plot was supposed to be. As a fictionalized account of the early developments of science and rationalism in 1600s England and America, this book was fascinating and sometimes hilarious. As a novel with protagonists, antagonists, and conflicts--well...I spent the first 2/3 of the book waiting for the story to start, and the rest thinking, "Wait, that's it?" And yet, listening to this book, as I did, as an episodic narrative of 1600s England and America--it was absolutely fascinating.