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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.

Critic Reviews

“[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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Intrigue, Math, Pirates!

Only bad thing I can say is now I want to read the rest of the Baroque Cycle

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good story heavy on the "history"

What made the experience of listening to Quicksilver the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed this however i enjoy history and biographies, this isnt like his other books

If you’ve listened to books by Neal Stephenson before, how does this one compare?

see aboev

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

yep

If you could take any character from Quicksilver out to dinner, who would it be and why?

you get to say hi to Enoch Root again, id pick him.

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  • Ken
  • Amherst, NH, United States
  • 11-21-12

Great book/audiobook but...

I read the Baroque Cycle when it came out and enjoyed it greatly. It's not meant as a history so much as an entertainment and listening to it is a real treat. However, when I read Quicksilver it was a 1000+ page book so i should have known better when this Quicksilver was only 20 hours. What I'd forgotten was that the book I read had three "books" that included one called Quicksilver. These sub-books are published by audible individually. So I feel a bit cheated.

Here are the volumes and books, so expect to spend 8 credits for the whole cycle.
Quicksilver, Vol. I of the Baroque Cycle
Book 1 – Quicksilver
Book 2 – The King of the Vagabonds
Book 3 – Odalisque
The Confusion, Vol. II of the Baroque Cycle
Book 4 – Bonanza
Book 5 – The Juncto
The System of the World, Vol. III of the Baroque Cycle
Book 6 – Solomon's Gold
Book 7 – Currency
Book 8 – The System of the World

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  • Nancy
  • Evanston, IL, United States
  • 10-18-12

Pleasurable way to learn history

If you could sum up Quicksilver in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating, funny, thought-provoking.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Quicksilver?

Daniel Waterhouse realizing King Charles the Second was about to blow up his father's house and his father.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, too much to savor.

Any additional comments?

I was disappointed that it wasn't the whole book and that I had to purchase the second part. It is published as one book.

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  • Richard
  • Bridgewater, Australia
  • 09-25-12

Captivating historical fiction.

This absorbing book throws light on a time when science is surging to the forefront of popular thinking. It is written with unconventional warm humour.
Simon Prebble's performance is masterful.

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By turns entertaining and tedious

Although I enjoyed the story overall and the narrator was quite good, there were points in the book where things just dragged on and on and on... It could have been a much shorter story with just as much impact.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The Scientific Revolution in a novel

Where does Quicksilver rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Quicksilver appeals to me because of its subject matter: the history of the Scientific Revolution in Britain, Europe and the American colonies around 1650 to 1750. Stephenson writes a "good yarn" with interesting characters that are well developed, but he is not a literary author. I would rate Quicksilver much better than some mediocre mysteries that I have listened to, but it is not up to the level of audiobooks of Charles Dickens or Tolstoy, or Samuel Pepys diary.

What other book might you compare Quicksilver to and why?

Neal Stephenson's books are great to both read and listen to. Quicksilver is not as entertaining as Reamde or Cryptomonicon, but it is a "must" for any Stephenson fan. There are characters and themes that repeat in Cryptomonicon. Quicksilver is for readers who are interested in mathematics and science, the history of both, and generally have inquisitive minds

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I like a narrator to not intrude on the story. If I notice the narrator, then there is a problem. I did not notice in this case, so do not know if I have heard other books by him - that is a good thing!

If you could take any character from Quicksilver out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Isaac Newton is very well realized here. Stephenson creates an amusing, complex and often infuriating character and does a good job of answering the question: "What is genius and how is it manifested?"

Any additional comments?

I am listening to Quicksilver for a second time before I go on with the second book in the Baroque Cycle. There is so much to take it, that I need to repeat to make sure that I get it all. And it is definitely worth listening to again, as are all of Stephenson's books - which makes them good value.

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An epic story about the turn of the 18th century.

This is probably my favorite part of the series. It begins a truly epic tale about the changes in the world from the late 1600s to the early 1700s. This portion tells the tale of Daniel Waterhouse, close companion to Isaac Newton, and their introduction into the world of Natural Philosophy. It details the transition between the age of alchemy and "magic" into a world of science and logical study of the nature of life.

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.

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  • waterrose
  • Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 06-27-12

Love History Love Science

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend it to any friend who loves science and history

What did you like best about this story?

The details the author provides and how he sets the scenes

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

The narrator is good

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

One of my favorite parts was in the first half when the main character is in Massachusetts.

Any additional comments?

It took me a long time to listen to this book...which provides value. There is a lot of detail and period changes, but it is so worth the listening.

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More Stephenson Brilliance

Would you listen to Quicksilver again? Why?

I've listened to it multiple times and find more layers of meaning and literary craft'smanship with each listening (and reading).

Who was your favorite character and why?

Enoch Root is always my "favorite" character, starting with my reading of the Cryptonomicon. He is Stephenson's Gandalf. I am always left wanting more with him.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

Simon Prebble is simply brilliant in his pacing, inflection and occasionaly and appropriately used "other character" voices.

Who was the most memorable character of Quicksilver and why?

Enoch Root, for the reasons listed above.... he is the bridge across the old alchemical world, into the new scientific age. He is enigmatic and there is enough mystery in his longevity that we want more.

Any additional comments?

Stop what you are doing right now, and down load this work. Your life will never be the same.