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Neal Stephenson - The Confusion

I just finished volume 2 of the Baroque Cycle "The Confusion" by Neal Stephenson. Is it worth reading the 1600 pages in volumes 1 (Quicksilver) and 2?

I like Neal Stephenson. I first read "Snow Crash", a funny, hip novel about cyberspace. Then I read "Cryptonomicon" a huge 700+ page novel about cryptography and treasure hunting. It was long, but rewarding read.

My boss lent me "Quicksilver" a few weeks ago, and told me he hadn't finished it. I worried that the series might just be too long. A trilogy of 800 page books could be considered deadly weapons in some jurisdictions.

The novels are set in the late 17th century and early 18th. The first couple hundred pages in Quicksilver are great. With a cast of characters that includes Isaac Newton, the founder of MIT, alchemists, three Shaftoe brothers, and many more. The plot is a rich braid of stories, anecdotes, epistles that include thievery, war, cryptography, political intrigue, alchemy, swashbuckling and more. The novel then bogs down trying to backfill story. It eventually picks up steam again, but at the end I couldn't really decide whether or not I liked it.

The Confusion, however is definitely great. It's the same mix of narration, dialog, and epistles as the first novel, but the pacing is superb. And before you ask, yes, read the first novel, it will help you keep the characters straight in the second.

Besides, who can resist a novel that combines half naked pirate queens and monads?

Created by humberto
Last modified 2004-07-26 02:50 PM

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