In keeping with its title and the cycle of which it is a part, this book is exemplary of Neal Stephenson's inimitable style, though this time wrought in a Baroque form. Great prose beautifully written, outstanding plot, diverse subject matter and realistic, breathing characters, historical fact filigreed with invented fancy. The work itself is almost flawless, typical of Stephenson's handiwork.
I read these books as they were released, and was afraid that the dozens of characters, each with different countries as their home and of differing levels of literacy might prove confounding to any narrator. Happily I found the narrator Simon Prebble equal to the task.
Although the characters are numerous, Mr. Prebble makes each one distinct. Even the young and old Daniel Waterhouse get different voices. Mr. Prebble somehow manages to make it obvious they are the same character, albeit one is a version 40 years younger than the other.
The fact that the characters might be English, Irish, French, Dutch, American, German, African, etc. might present a problem for a lesser narrator, but portraying these diverse accents doesn't seem to be any problem for Mr. Prebble. For instance, switching from Jack's East London to Leibniz's German accent is done easily and transparently, even when they are conversing with each other. Sometimes I think Mr. Prebble might be having a little fun at the French character's expense by making their accents a little outrageous at times. Where there are songs, Mr. Prebble sings; when speaking a fictitious language (the native tongue of Eliza's home Qwghlm) he sounds like a native.
Mr. Prebble's diction is generally superb, only a few times did I find a muddled word here or there and, since I listen mostly in the car or airplanes, quite possibly due to the environment and not the narration.
The recording itself is quite good. Constant fiddling with the volume knob isn't necessary on this recording as it is on other audio books. Unfortunately, there is one annoying production issue concerning the narration of the excerpted works at the beginning of each chapter. The difference in the timbre of the recording is quite noticeable, and seems to suffer from undue amounts of digital aliasing. Possibly these were recorded in a different studio? The narrator is different for these, Kevin Pariseau, though the lapse in quality is not his. All in all, a minor flaw that hardly detracts from an otherwise overwhelmingly good production of an outstanding piece of literature.
This is not "Quicksilver" the first volume of the three volume Baroque Cycle.
This is "Quicksilver" the first *book* of the first volume. The first printed volume, also conveniently called "Quicksilver", contains "Quicksilver", "King of the Vagabonds", and "Odalisque". Theses are separate purchases on Audible.
So, other than being a bit disappointed to find out that I bought "Quicksilver" instead of "Quicksilver", it's a quite enjoyable story. If you're a science geek like me, you'll enjoy the fictionalized account of Newton, Hooke, Leibnitz and other key players in this key point our history.
The audio quality and narration is also particularly good, though the Dutch, German and French accents all sound a bit similar.
How on earth can I have listened to the same book as some of the other reviewers? This book transported me to England during some of the most eventful decades of modern history. The characters would be sci fi heroes if it weren't for the fact that they lived. The times were so charged! The black death, the great fire, the birth of modern science and America. I have no idea how anyone could read this and not be dazzled. Simon Prebble is as always a master. If you like to learn and think when you read this will be a revelation. If you want mindless fluff, pass on.
Short on story, long on details; somehow, I still liked it. The narration was excellent.
There's a lot going on in this series of historical novels, most especially the birth of modern science and finance. There's also a lot of adventure and political intrigue. I was a bit daunted by the first volume when I first read it, but I boned up a bit on the history (the Restoration and the Royal Society for the first book) and when I revisited it via audiobook I got much more out of it and enjoyed it immensely. I do think that the narration makes it easier, but it could also be that I'm a bit better informed.
The writing is, incidentally, gorgeous. This is not just a book of ideas, although sometimes it gets a bit too expository when Stephenson has to make the characters explain what's going on. Otherwise, the prose is very fine.
Learned some interesting things but, WOW, hard to get through. Still working on it, actually. I keep this one around when I want to engage my inner brainy nerd self.
I found this book to be interesting and entertaining, and enlightening of the period. It makes me want to read up on the history of the period. The biggest problem is that it leaves you in the middle of the story, with no conclusion at all, so you have to read the rest if you want to know what's going on. This seems to be a trend in some of the recent scifi/fantasy series I've been "reading," and I don't much like it at all.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
While I thought I should have waited for reviews prior to spending a credit on this book, it probably would not have saved me. Stephenson generally gets such good reviews that I probably would have eventually succumbed and regretted only later.
The publisher review states that the book defies description and genre. I disagree. This is quite simply, a Fictionalized History of Science and frankly, for me, not a great one. If Science History is what you are looking for, try A Short History of Nearly Everything by, Walk In the Woods, Bill Bryson. It's witty, charming and will hold your attention much more than this tome.
QS is well narrated but, for me, quite frankly the compliments cease there. The book rambles, there is little continuity except chronological that I could glean. While I endured the agony, I finished it but never found any part of it that drew me in and held me captivated. I am a scientist by education and studied science history which is interesting to me. But this book? Be warned my fellow reader. Some folks rate books highly because they think that they should and not because the book actually deserves it. But they are mistaken. I truly believe this is the case here. My only saving grace: it was just one credit.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
I have not been so bored since I tried to listen to, Flaubert's Parrot. I'm thinking that this is perhaps a masterpiece of post-decontructionism. Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault along with their academic fan-boys will be proud that like Jullian Barnes, Stephenson has written a book about nothing.
Hell is a place with infinite facts that lack connection, which is exactly what deconstructionism is about - ferreting out and eliminating all connections. After hours of listening to Quicksilver try to start its engine… I finally concluded that it either lacks fuel.. or AN ENGINE AT ALL! Okay, maybe by the thirtieth book in this epic, I'll discover that there is a there, there somewhere. Unfortunately… As I concluded after simultaneously listening to Stephenson's Snow Crash… The guy wants not so much to be read… As to be studied.
Yeah, I get it, Stephenson's smart. He does a bunch of research. But look, I don't want to study a science fiction novel… I want to ride it. This one doesn't ignite.
I'm going to return Quicksilver.
Putting books on the back burner.
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.