The trials of Dr. Daniel Waterhouse and the Natural Philosophers increase one hundredfold in an England plagued by the impending war and royal insecurities, as the beautiful and ambitious Eliza plays a most dangerous game as double agent and confidante of enemy kings.
The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson’s award-winning series, spans the late 17th and early 18th centuries, combining history, adventure, science, invention, piracy, and alchemy into one sweeping tale. It is a gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive historical epic populated by the likes of Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin, and King Louis XIV, along with some of the most inventive literary characters in modern fiction.
Audible’s complete and unabridged presentation of The Baroque Cycle was produced in cooperation with Neal Stephenson. Each volume includes an exclusive introduction read by the author.
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©2003 Neal Stephenson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“Rollicking good fun…Historical fiction driven by the history of ideas… Stephenson is a magnificent chronicler.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Sprawling, irreverent, and ultimately profound.” (Newsweek)
I found the addition of Katherine Kellgren as Eliza in the third book a little jarring, after having gotten used to Simon Prebble doing Eliza's voice in the two previous books (and doing a seamless job of it, too.)
Kellgren's Eliza is a touch too arch, too insufferably prissy; not how I imagined Eliza to be. It makes the numerous readings of Eliza's correspondence in this book three of the cycle seem interminable. This stands out because, though this is a ridiculously long work, I rarely lose patience with its length - and I remember reading through the correspondence sections of the third book without any impatience or sense of 'slogging through'.
I think her voice is just a bit too much, like trying to make an entire meal of lemon bars. Makes you long for plain bread. I'm hoping this effect lessens as the books go on.
We continue to follow Jack and Eliza as they make their way in the world, both trying to save the other from a life of poverty, generally by lots of subterfuge, a little bit of theft, and some occasional bad decisions.
Highly detailed, and sometimes slow moving, the entire story will span over 50 years, the reign of many different kings and queens across europe, several trips to America and back, pirates, african queens, and the Philosopher's Stone. Well worth slogging through the slow points to find out what happens in the end.
This book was a significant drop in quality for me. Seemed to overly emphasize historical facts and description of the scenes. Less action and storyline around the characters. A little more fictional drama and plot would be great. It is starting to sound like a high school world history textbook. The addition of a new narrator was a disaster in my book. Her voice did not match the character I envisioned for Eliza. It became distracting and I commonly zoned out when her voice started. Unfortunately that was coupled with a new story telling style of using letters written among the characters as a way to advance the book along. I found this style boring and a big draw back to the pace of the book. It just ground to a halt in my mind when one of the letters were read.
I did give the book a 3 because the research needed to write this book must have been immense. Stephenson is also a talented writer and he gives me hope for the future books. Since I have already bought the complete series, I guess I will move forward to book four. If I had not, this could have been the end of the line for this series.
This was an excellent installment in the series. The scope of the story is very wide and skillfully brings together a very wide swath of historical figures.
Very easy to distinguish the characters.
I'm a Stephenson fan, having thoroughly enjoyed Anathem, Crypotnomicon and Snow Crash (could not get through Diamond Age).
Starting the Baroque Cycle, I thought Quicksilver was great, with a lot of focus on math, science and some religion and politics in a historical storytelling style. The second book, King of the Vagabonds disappointed me somewhat because it was a complete departure from the first - but still entertaining on a different level as an adventure story. The Confusion and Odalisque sort of bored me and i couldn't get through Odalisque. I agree with another reviewer about the female narrator being a bit melodramatic with the voice acting to the point where I couldn't stand the sections she read.
I don't think i'll be continuing on the Baroque Cycle path unfortunately... it all got a bit too tedious for me.
"Intrigue, Technology and Commerce"
The third part of Stephenson's chronicle of intrigue, technology and commerce focuses on Eliza and her adventures in France. A third of the way through but the real story is only beginning. Each part of this wonderful book deserves its own review and five star rating.
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