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King of the Vagabonds (Baroque Cycle) [Mass Market Paperback]

Neal Stephenson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 377 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060833173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060833176
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 9.8 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,174,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neal Town Stephenson (born October 31, 1959) is an American writer, known for his speculative fiction works, which have been variously categorized science fiction, historical fiction, maximalism, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk. Stephenson explores areas such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff Bezos) developing a manned sub-orbital launch system.

Born in Fort Meade, Maryland (home of the NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum) Stephenson came from a family comprising engineers and hard scientists he dubs "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering whose father was a physics professor; his mother worked in a biochemistry laboratory, while her father was a biochemistry professor. Stephenson's family moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1960 and then to Ames, Iowa in 1966 where he graduated from Ames High School in 1977. Stephenson furthered his studies at Boston University. He first specialized in physics, then switched to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.

Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic "The Baroque Cycle" (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mere fragment of the larger work 24 Jan 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is book 2 of 8 from the Baroque Cycle. There are 3 volumes and 8 books - here is the complete order of The Baroque Cycle:

1. Quicksilver
2. The King of the Vagabonds
3. Odalisque

The Confusion:
4. Bonanza
5. The Juncto

The System of the World:
6. Solomon's Gold
7. Currency
8. The System of the World

My advice is to purchase "Quicksilver" - volume 1 of the Cycle which also contains "Quicksilver" (book 1) and "Odalisque" (book 3). The second volume "The Confusion" (containing two books which are con-fused together) and the third volume "The System of the World" should then be purchased and read without break. May take you half a year but I assure you it's worth it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baroque Cycle now split into *eight* parts! 28 Nov 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I agree with both the above reviewers - and here are the details:

"Quicksilver" is now divided up and published in three: "Quicksilver", "King of the vagabonds", and "Odalisque".
"The Confusion" has been split in two: "Bonanza" and "Juncto"
"The system of the World" into three, "Solomon's Gold" "Currency" and "The System of the World".

So nothing new, sadly. Wish it were. You have been warned!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, youre really lucky - you have a treat ahead of you. Start with Quicksilver, and have yourself a ball!
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5.0 out of 5 stars MP3! 3 May 2012
Format:MP3 CD|Verified Purchase
Please be aware that this is an MP3 "CD", not a set of CDs.

For others who where as confused as I, here is the complete order of The Baroque Cycle:

1. Quicksilver
2. The King of the Vagabonds
3. Odalisque

The Confusion:
4. Bonanza
5. The Juncto

The System of the World:
6. Solomon's Gold
7. Currency
8. The System of the World
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A History textbook? You could find a lot worse. 22 Feb 2007
By Nish Pfister VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I completely agree with the above review. What I want to add is that Stephenson must have done an incredible amount of research into the history of 17th/early 18th century Europe, in fact, the whole Barock Cycle could be used to teach history. It also gives an insight into the birth of the US and the ideas around at that time. It made me understand better some of the present (and very strange to me) ideas and behaviour of Americans.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
186 of 186 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a paperback of the middle 3rd of Volume 1: Quicksilver 26 Nov 2007
By D. Brouwer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Here's the complete list to help people avoid buying something they already have:

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
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Repackaging Can Be a Good Thing 2 Jun 2006
By etymologik - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First off, this book and all the books in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, however packaged and numbered, make for excellent reading. My stars are based on the excellence of the books themselves.

As for the reviewers who feel that repackaging is evil or greedy, well, okay. But if I were the author, I would be delighted that the publisher is investing the money and effort to repackage the books in a way that will bring them to a wider audience.

The new titles on the cover are racier and more true to the content; "King of the Vagabonds" and "Odalisque" will pull more readers to pick up a copy than "The Confusion" ever could. "Quicksilver", however, holds its own as a title in this company, so keep it.

Breaking up the enormous page counts into more tractable sizes will pull in many of my friends, who simply refuse to pick up fat books. They don't have the time, they're afraid the book will be hard reading -- whatever. So the publisher is accommodating that potential readership, and at the same time returning to the days of skinny book classics. (Ever read The Great Gatsby? That's a novella or novellette, not a novel! Ditto most of Hemingway's stuff. Ditto C.S. Forester -- novels, sure, but SKINNY novels.)

The fact of the matter is, it's cheaper to print one fat book than three skinny ones. In choosing to repackage the Baroque Series books in a more extended manner, the publisher is taking a calculated risk; they're boosting their costs, but also expanding their potential market to more first-time readers, who will then buy the complete inventory of Stephenson books once they get hooked.

So, good for Harper. And go, Neal Stephenson!
37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baroque Cycle 21 Mar 2006
By Caracarn - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Baroque Cycle is not a trilogy, trilogy meaning "a group of three novels which together form a related series, although each is complete in itself." It is eight novels published in three hardcover volumes. Thus "cycle." In an interview in 2004, Stephenson said that one reason why he named it a "cycle" was that some people would call it a trilogy when it obviously wasn't and he wanted to, as best he could, prevent that anoyance.

Stephenson and Harper Collins could have published this series in eight hardcover volumes from the beginning. After all it is EIGHT novels. They would have sold almost three times the volumes and made a lot more money. They didn't. Instead, they published the entire series in THREE volumes and as quickly as possible. It takes a long time to proofread, edit and typeset four hundred thousand words. Also they would have sold almost three times the amount of trade paperbacks. Now they are publishing each volume seperately in mass market. I think it comes down to two reasons. First, that it is, as above stated, eight novels. Second, some people find a nine hundred page volume intimidating but would be willing to read a four hundred page novel. This is who these editions are for.

It's striking how eager some people are to point fingers and claim someone else is greedy. They are ignorant concerning how difficult it is to write a book and their reviews end up revealing how ignorant they are concern writing and the publishing industry. I've read reviews of people claiming it was half the book, that the volumes were renamed. I questioned whether they have even read it. All I have to do is grab my trade paperback volume of Quicksilver and flip through it to find that the first novel (like the name of the volume) is Quicksilver, the second is King of Vagabonds and the third is Odalisque. How can a person read something so obvious and not remember? It isn't difficult.

A little education concerning payment rates for popular books. Agents commission is fifteen percent of the top of the author's commission. Author's commission for a hardcover is fifteen percent. For a trade paperback, seven and a half. For mass market, ten percent. This means that Stephenson earnes approximately three and a half dollars off every hardcover (85% of 15% of the cover price). He makes sixty-eight cents (7.99x10%x85%) from each paperback.

It's not difficult to do a little research concerning the contents of a book before it is released. The information was revealed on amazon months before the book came out in bookstores. The simple answer is, research before you buy.

If you haven't read the books, start with the Baroque Cycle start with #1. If you have, shut up.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Past It 10 May 2007
By Dr. Christopher Coleman - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Should the publisher have printed King of the Vagabonds separately? Sure, why not? Where they missed was in not clearly labelling it for those of us who bought Quicksilver, in which this book is contained as the second part. Readers felt ripped-off when they purchased a book they'd already read, and that's understandable. But the blame goes to the marketing department of the publisher, not to Neal Stephenson, who wrote an incredibly fascinating and diverse portrait of the world at the time when knowledge was first beinging to replace belief; when science emerged out of religion; when the world as we know it now was first being born. And it is an amazing accomplishment--for a second, just say out loud that someone could make a best-seller out of an eight volume series about the acrimony between Newton and Leibnitz over the discovery of the calculus, about the necessity of a stable currency, about the birth of 'natural philosophy', about the beginnings of cryptography; and that they'd be able to put in a grand showdown between alchemists and pirates--it sounds absurd, doesn't it? But Stephenson carrys it off magnificently.

This particular volume (yes, it IS the second book of the large volume Quicksilver--if your Quicksilver is divided into three books, you've read it; if your Quicksliver ends with Watterson escaping from pirates, you haven't and it's safe to buy) is a complete and shocking contrast to the first book in the series. That book was about the birth of science, it was very intellectual with little action and focussed mainly on the characters of Daniel Waterhouse and Issac Newton. King of the Vagabonds could not be more different--none of the characters in the first book appear (and I kept waiting for them to do so), none of the action overlaps, and the themes are completely different. Where Quicksilver (the book, not the volume) was about ideas, King of the Vagabonds is about action. It's pirates and gypsies and fighting and cavorting mostly through continental Europe. Not until the next volume (Odalesque) will any of the characters from the first two books meet, and then only incidentally. The big confrontations come much later, so don't expect it now.

I throughly loved The Baroque Cycle, as did my 20 year old son. It's definitely not for everyone, but if you are interested in ideas, if you enjoy the detailed portrayal of times and places other than our own, you might love it as much as we did. I was only sorry it was only 8 volumes.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Half a novel is better than none. 17 Mar 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Since the "Baroque Cycle" novels are so large, it looks like the paperback versions will be split in twain. It make sense, although it looks a little greedy.

Anyway, if you've already read QUICKSILVER, skip this book. If you haven't, dig in! Stephenson's epic historical fiction is a delight. His mix of history and politics (Louis XIV vs. William of Orange), math and science (Newton vs. Liebnitz), and rollicking adventure (the eponymous "Half-Cocked" Jack Shaftoe, King of the Vagabonds) makes for a rich reading experience. Stephenson gets a lot of flack for his tendency to "infodump" (go off on long factual tangents), but if you have an interest in the subject matter they just fly by.
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