I've read the Baroque Cycle trilogy twice since publication - it is extraordinary fiction. The very things that make it enjoyable to me - finely-grained, dense story telling - also seem to be the very things that many of the reviewers here don't like about it.
The plot is rich, particularly if you know your history - Stephenson's story telling and characters come through with developments that are pure kick, intriguing, complex, humane, and understandable.
Simon Prebble's narration is perfectly fitting and well done - masterful acting, really. The many characters are all distinct to the ear and the imagination. If you liked the read, you shouldn't be dissappointed.
I gave up on this book about 3 1/2 hours into it. The narration was putting me to sleep & the story!!!!
I like historical fiction a lot and have listened to scores of books since joining audible.com but this is one of only a couple of books that I simply could not finish. I had high hopes for the book and the series after reading the publisher's summary but the book never develops. I like long detailed books, but this one rambles aimlessly, sometimes providing exhaustive lists which drone on until the point at which I wished for an accident on the freeway to take my mind off the book. Here is an example. At one point, about 5 ?? hours into the book the topic of ???punishments??? is discussed. The list which follows for the next five minutes is laborious and mind numbing but when it ends, it simply ends and the author goes on to another topic without tying the last five minutes to anything before or after (at least as long as I continued to listen). Which brings me to the biggest problem I had with the book; even where there is an occasionally interesting section it is all too quickly gone without advancing the story line.
After reading some of the glowing reviews here I can???t help but wonder if they were really listening to the same book or if they were related to the author.
Neal Stephenson wrote one of my favorite books (cryptonomicon) and Simon Prebble is my all time favorite narrator. So when I found this series it could not be a better match.
But this book just does not go anywhere! I know I had high expectations, but I really wanted this book to be good, and because of this I kept on listening, but had to give up 2/3 into the book.
I cannot recommend this book. But I can fully recommend Cryptonomicon by Stepenson.
I found the historical and philisophical aspects of the book interesting, but it gets rather boring. It is like hanging out with my geek-friends who don't have a life, only their work. I was looking forward to intrigue and wow, this just didn't have it.
My feelings are mixed. On one hand, the writing style is fairly clever, but there is nothing to move the story forward. As a reader, a vision of an alternate pre-enlightenment era is entirely insufficient in itself to warrant so much reading. This book reads like a late-era European history textbook with a narrative structure. I was never enthralled by the lives and doings of boring rich gentlemen the first time around, and adding a bit of sci-fi to their lives does not, in itself, nudge them into being interesting. Even still, I'm sure I'd have probably enjoyed the book if it had had an interesting plot, (environment and characters being already dismissed to my mind,) but alas, the plot, again, reads like a historical account. The tides of history aren't an interesting plot in and of themselves. For me, there needs to be some serious degree of human drama to propel the story, and there mostly isn't. For readers who enjoy the style, the victorian language, and period, and love the idea of combining something magical with it, I recommend Clarke's "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" instead.
I agree with all the other reviewers on this one. There is one reason you might want to get this. It helps you get to sleep at night!
In truth the narration is great, bringing life into what is possibly the most disjointed and uninteresting story I have come across. Even the science history is poor. At one point it mentions he meets I think it was Newton as a boy, next minute he was recommending that someone reads his book.
The overdescription is just annoying too. The author seems to think that it is good if he can say something in a paragraph he could have said in a word! What actually happens is you know what he is rabbiting on about at the start of the paragraph but you have to wait for a minute or so to get some petty detail you don't want to know anyway.
Avoid this book like the plague....unless you have insomnia!
An unsocial freak living his life around audiobooks, the next best thing to under water blowdryers.
I was hoping this would be something diffirent since i am a history fanatic. I usually listen to books while working, but several times the book dissapeared among the hundred thoughts i have which never happens on any other audio book. It is complex and the main character is extremely boring. It is very technical yet it will have an audience with those who find toothpicks and pebbles more interesting than the end of the world or some alien invasion. Did i forget to say YAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWNNNN!!!
Reasonable narrator (but not in the league of Patrick Tull or Davina Porter) but relatively boring story. I am four hours in and ready to abandon an audio book for the first time (after many). I would pass on this selection.