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Quicksilver: Book One of The Baroque Cycle | [Neal Stephenson]

Quicksilver: Book One of The Baroque Cycle

In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe -- in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.
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Publisher's Summary

In this first volume of Neal Stephenson’s genre-defying epic, Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

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.

Listen to more titles in the Baroque Cycle.

©2003 Neal Stephenson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“[The “Baroque Cycle”] will defy any category, genre, precedent, or label – except genius….Stephenson has a once-in-a-generation gift: he makes complex ideas clear, and he makes them funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling.” (Time)

“A book of immense ambition, learning, and scope, Quicksilver is often brilliant and occasionally astonishing in its evocation of a remarkable time and place.” (Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (1730 )
5 star
 (506)
4 star
 (443)
3 star
 (360)
2 star
 (222)
1 star
 (199)
Overall
3.6 (1013 )
5 star
 (333)
4 star
 (256)
3 star
 (209)
2 star
 (117)
1 star
 (98)
Story
4.0 (984 )
5 star
 (429)
4 star
 (292)
3 star
 (170)
2 star
 (52)
1 star
 (41)
Performance
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  •  
    Amy Charlotte, NC, United States 08-17-10
    Amy Charlotte, NC, United States 08-17-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    73
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Yawn"

    Boring. Uninteresting. Dry. A waste of a good credit. Very, very, disappointing.

    8 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne ARLINGTON, VA, United States 03-13-13
    Anne ARLINGTON, VA, United States 03-13-13 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Forest Gump for the Natural Sciences"

    I was first introduced to Neal Stephenson through his book Cryptonomicon (to which, in some ways, Quicksilver is a distant prequel). I loved Cryptonomicon, with its intricate plotlines, its fantastic characters, and its tidy resolution. I was eager to read more.

    Quicksilver was a good book, but it did not live up to Cryptonomicon primarily because it is too slow moving.

    If you are interested in natural sciences and the history of the Royal Society, this is a playful historical fiction that is extremely interesting in its portrayal of those scientists, their debates and activities.

    The main character is a sort of ambling good-natured scientist who meanders through various scientific societies making acquaintance with some of the great minds of the time through seeming happenstance. In this respect, I loved the book and its completely irreverent approach to these great minds.

    However, it had none of the adventure, urgency, or swashbuckling of Cryptonomicon. It was an interesting read, but a very slow one. Amusing and entertaining, but never gripping.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina Altamonte Springs, FL, United States 01-05-13
    Tina Altamonte Springs, FL, United States 01-05-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No plot"

    Seven hours into this book, there is no discernable plot. And the book is gross, with descriptions of animal torture. I have nothing against a little grossness, as long as it is relevant to the story. This, so far, is not. I will not continue to listen.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    V.D. BEAVERCREEK, OH, United States 10-26-12
    V.D. BEAVERCREEK, OH, United States 10-26-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    Story
    "love the concept, but really hard to get through"

    the concept is amazing. the interactions between the great scientists of the 19th century. i never even realized that all of these great discoveries and inventions were happening within the same few decades.

    however, the book was extremely difficult to get through. slow, not always fun.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise 11-12-11
    Denise 11-12-11

    It is up to you to use your powers for good!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow and choppy"

    So disappointed in the book overall. I expected more. The story drug on and on and never got anywhere. Would not recommend your time or $.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia Marion, KS, United States 11-06-11
    Sylvia Marion, KS, United States 11-06-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    227
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "ugh!"

    I so wanted to like this story. The narration is very good, the topic should be interesting, but I just couldn't get through the book. This is the first audio book that I didn't finish. I tried, but I couldn't. I started listening to this at bed time to put me sleep more quickly.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer San Antonio, TX 10-19-11
    Amazon Customer San Antonio, TX 10-19-11 Member Since 2007

    JRS

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What Is The Point?"
    Would you try another book from Neal Stephenson and/or the narrators?

    Love Simon Prebble; Neal Stephenson not so much


    What was most disappointing about Neal Stephenson’s story?

    Boring. I kept asking myself


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The last scene I listened to, which happened to be a string of F-words. That put me over the line to be done with this book.


    Did Quicksilver inspire you to do anything?

    It inspired me to get my money back.


    Any additional comments?

    Audio books are in dire need of a content rating system. I could have avoided disappointment if I had known this book contained so many F-words.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samantha Ferndale, MI, United States 02-26-11
    Samantha Ferndale, MI, United States 02-26-11 Member Since 2010

    A frequent listener with a taste for a little of everything.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    97
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Plotless, pointless"

    This story is well narrated, and the characters are interesting. Unfortunately, there's not much positive to say beyond that. While I enjoy listening to historical fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi, I do like to know what I'm investing my time into. If you were to ask me what the plot of the book was, I couldn't tell you. If you asked me what the point was, the best I could give you is that it shows the author's knowledge about scientific discovery during the time periods highlighted. Nothing more. Occasionally, there are funny lines and situations - those are the only things that kept me listening until the end of this part. Otherwise, I would have abandoned it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Cordova, TN, United States 02-11-11
    Michael Cordova, TN, United States 02-11-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    95
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Couldn't follow it."

    It may just be me, but I really couldn't follow the storyline in this book. I quickly got disinterested and couldn't finish it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Per Hals, Denmark 11-17-10
    Per Hals, Denmark 11-17-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    89
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "History vs. story line"

    I had hoped for historical info within a (good) novel and found the opposite. Especially in the first half of the book, the dialogue turns into a lesson in eg. european coinage as a prism is bought from a vendor, making for clunky dialogue. The prism turns out to be irrelevant to the story line. The second half of the book seems to turn focus to the story line in a manner I found much less constructed.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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