In the year 1689, a cabal of Barbary galley slaves, including one “Half-Cocked Jack” Shaftoe, devises a daring plan to win freedom and fortune. A great adventure ensues that will place the intrepid band at odds with the mighty and the mad, with alchemists, Jesuits, great navies, pirate queens, and vengeful despots across vast oceans and around the globe.
Back in Europe, the exquisite and resourceful Eliza, Countess de la Zeur, master of markets, pawn and confidante of enemy kings, onetime Turkish harem virgin, is stripped of her immense personal fortune by France’s most dashing privateer. Penniless and at risk from those who desire either her or her head (or both), she is caught up in a web of international intrigue, even as she desperately seeks the return of her most precious possession -- her child.Meanwhile, Newton and Leibniz continue to propound their grand theories as their infamous rivalry intensifies. And Daniel Waterhouse seeks passage to the Massachusetts colony in hopes of escaping the madness into which his world has descended.
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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©2004 Neal Stephenson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“[Stephenson] might just have created the definitive historical-sci-fi-epic-pirate-comedy-punk-love story.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Monumental… combines adventure with Big Ideas and lots of intrigue.” (Locus)
“Vast, splendid, and absorbing.” (Publishers Weekly)
This is really a pirate adventure with a lot of historical fact, speculation, liberty and down-right fiction thrown in. It's very well written and read. A bit overlong in some of the description and detail, but the reading really makes an excellent job of hiding that.
I would strongly recommend that the listerner begins at the beginning of the Baroque Cycle and sees it through to the end, as most of the plot lines begin before, and finish well after, this book. Although it could be argued that this is a standalone listen I do not believe you would be doing the story any justice be stopping at the end of this book.
The reading and production of this is excellent. The characterisations are broad and consistent, with lots of emotion and humour conveyed.
I really enjoyed Quicksilver, originally the first of a trilogy of which this is meant to be the second book. Perhaps there were some warning signs in the fact that it was difficult to make out which book this was and how it fitted in the cycle. To say it is a sprawling novel would be an understatement. It is at times almost infuriatingly pleased with its own cleverness and it could easily have been half the length. And yet the whole thing just carries you along. There is a mordant sense of humour running through it which often saves the day when you feel you have heard one too many tall-tale, battle description or exegesis on economics and physics. The narrators are excellent with great voice characterisations. I docked it one star because it did almost drive me to distraction at times trying to keep up with all the plot twists. I would love to see someone try to bring these books to the big screen - there is a ready-made role there for Johnny Depp.
The second volume in the Baroque Cycle consist of two books into 34 hours and 30 minutes, or 848 pages. "The Confusion" combines "Bonanza" (book 4) and "The Juncto" (book 5) together into one large sum. The two books intertwine together, telling three main parts all at the same time, hence "The Confusion." The subject of pirates in the sea, capture of the slaves and the ongoing value of the currency, makes this to be an awesome book to tackle.
The two books are companions to each other by flashing back and forth into each plot. You can't read these books separately and will be force to read the complete volume into one set. The best comparison of the second volume is "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell. Neal Stephenson has the same style of storytelling in "The Confusion."
Very much like a Swiss Army knife, you get all of the necessary tools to continue on with the series.
I've been on other sites that also reviews books and "The Confusion" has stirred up mix results. Some people love it and other can't seem to get through the first chapter. To all of the naysayers that are cursing Stephenson of writing out of his genre, here are my thoughts. I agree with some of you that it's somewhat weird to see a science fiction author writing about the 18th century. When I first started this series, I wasn't expecting an history lesson, but as a fan boy of Stephenson, I appreciate his efforts at writing out of his comfort zone.
There are many popular authors who writes the same thing over and over by having sequel after sequel like book #26. Neal Stephenson is still an indie author because in all of his novels, the story ends at the last page of the book. He doesn't keep extending the line with the same pen in other novels.
I cannot wait to come to the last period or question mark in the Baroque Cycle.
So far, they have all been excellent and once you stop labeling Neal Stephenson as a stereotypical sci fi writer, you can quickly get into the Cycle.
I have been loving the ride on this series. It's long and delicious and brilliant and witty. The characters are people you really want to know better - even the ones that aren't icons of history like Newton and Leibnitz.
Daniel Waterhouse's movements through the story.
Yes. Prebble, Kellgren, and Pariseau narrated the earlier books in this series as well. They are consummate!
Yes, I laughed many times and occasionally got misty-eyed.
Neal Stephenson is a planetary treasure.
favorite is Jack
When Jack is "King" and checks on "the potato"
The character's distinct personalities are brought to life through the narrators. I would miss out, particularly, in hearing Jack Shaftoe's dialect.
Jack, of course, to see what might happen.
Finally! After more than a year's delay, I have a device that can access this in Audible! The volume, though long at 34 + hours, is really 2 books, and was exciting and a very entertaining listen. In The Confusion, scenes from 2 books alternate. Junco tells what is happening in the political intrigue and finance ridden life of Eliza, Bonanza relates Jack's journeying around the world to many places, including India, California and Mexico, gaining and losing treasure and searching for more. Both Jack and Eliza have many adventures and many narrow escapes. Their lives remain entangled and heavily affected by each other's events, though many years go by without their meeting again. We meet the mysterious Enoch Root again, and many other characters mentioned in Quicksilver and many new ones. The volume ends with a cliffhanger as Jack sets out on a dangerous mission motivated by threats to Eliza and her children.
It is wonderfully acted by Simon Prebble who brings the characters so much to life that they are vividly real, and very entertaining. He makes scene, action, mood and emotion just as vivid as are his delightful characterizations. Jack Shaftoe is ever my favorite character/characterization in what I have heard ( 1st 5 books) of this series. Eliza is next, as performed by Mr. P. He conveys more personality and more feelings than does the completely competant Katherine Kellgren, who was, nonetheless, very enjoyable.
I listened to the version with 4 segments and the quality was great. When I downloaded the entire book in one part, the final 7 hours, 39 min are MISSING from the download. I tried it twice.
The title describes the story at this point. Eliza is stuck between England and France, embroiled in politics. Jack is stuck, well, lots of places. Everywhere but where he wants to be.
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.
In the 4th high quality download, a few of the bits seem to be out of order - noticeably that Daniel sails Meteor back to Eliza and meets her illegitimate son and it is known she has the Pox, but then there is a jump back to Eliza prior to her getting the pox and meeting up with her illegitimate son. There is a similar problem where Minerva is christened but then we wind back to a few years earlier where there is a big reveal that Jack is building a boat. Which we already know about. Unlike Quicksilver where the novel deliberately shifts between Daniel as young man and Daniel as old, there is only this small part of the final bit of the Confusion where this odd jumping about in the what is otherwise linear narrative occurs, which makes me guess that this is an error rather than something deliberate in the text.
Also - an easter egg of sorts - listen carefully at 4 hours and about 12 minutes into the fourth part of the high quality recording. Either the narrator has a special leather chair or he's had too many beans.
recording not good. re-record
only ones by this narrator
did not get far enough
seemed like a great tale but I couldnt understand most of it. Had to return.
"'Epic' now has a whole new definition..."
This series gets better and better!
The Baroque Cycle really is vast. Part of me wants to listen over again from the start to make sure I grasped everything, though I confess the sheer length of these books is daunting. I will certainly be re-reading Cryptonomicon though.
Great books, especially now we're past all the bewildering financial and economic stuff in the earlier volumes. Prebble is a wonderful narrator, with an amazing range of character voices.
My one and only irk with these audiobooks has been Kevin Pariseau who reads the little quotations at the start of each section - truly awful intonation and reading that renders the most straightforward text completely incomprehensible. (but he's not in it much thankfully!)
Can't wait to start the next book in the Cycle...
"The best so far"
This book is the best so far in this series. Plenty of different inlerlinking stories. A history of discovery, navigation science and politics.
Really enjoyed listening to this.
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