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The Confusion (Baroque Cycle 2) [Hardcover]

Neal Stephenson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2004 Baroque Cycle 2
Thrown back into a web of international intrigue, Eliza must contend with all manner of characters, including buccaneers, poisoners, Jesuits, financial manipulators, and ever the stray cryptographer or two.-In this hugely ambitious, profoundly compelling adventure, Neal Stephenson brings to life a cast of unforgettable characters in a time of breathtaking genius and discovery - men and women whose exploits defined an age known as the Baroque.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 832 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434008788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434008780
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 792,132 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.

Product Description


‘Stephenson excels in marrying geekspeak with riotous action’ -- Guardian

‘This weird, wonderful collision of scholarship and story telling has no peer. Roll on, October’ -- Time Out

‘a hugely talented author’ -- Jack

Book Description

Neal Stephenson follows his acclaimed historical novel, Quicksilver, with the extraordinary second volume of The Baroque Cycle --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 1600's come to life 12 Dec 2004
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
I cannot find words for how good The Confusion is. We still follow the people from Quicksilver as they strive to find their way in the chaotic world of the late 1600's and early 1700's. The themes are still money, piracy, sex, slavery, science, black magic, etc. and the cast is still comprised of vagabonds, galley slaves, scientists, royalty, soldiers, priests, alchymists and much, much more. The action goes (literally) round the world, to places like Egypt, India, Japan, the Philippines, all of Europe and, of course, Qwghlm, the fictional Island that also appears in Cryptonomicon.
I am in awe of how many themes are woven together in this book, and of the amount of research it must have taken. I have never had any sense of what the rennaisance was like, and suddenly the 1600's seem real and present to me. I've done some fact-checking in Wikipedia, and it only serves to expand and deepen the picture that Stephenson paints of that period.
The ending is just about the funniest, saddest, most satisfying, most intriguing and most annoying thing I've ever read. And I can't wait to read the final book in the series which is The System of the World.
A word of caution: These books are subtle. Much of the actions is hinted at rather than described explicitly. Once you get the hang of it, it is immensely satisfying to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another piece in the puzzle 2 Dec 2004
After reading "The Confusion" I had to go back and read "Cryptonomicon" to confirm what I suspected - these books don't just feature different generations of the same families, they are building into a coherent and (I hope) complete story. There are, for example, passing references in "Cryptonomicon" that only make sense in the light of "Confusion". I'm looking forward to the treat of reading "System of the World" where I hope I will find the final answers - in particular, who (or what) is Enoch Root?
But then I'll probably have to go back and read "Quicksilver" again to get the full picture.
Anyway - an excellent series, taken together.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb just doesn’t do it justice! 5 April 2004
By JohnRW
This novel has everything; humour, adventure, intrigue, sex and naval warfare! It's all extremely well written with excellent dialogue and a cast of characters that will split your sides with laughter (my particular favourite was a Spanish nobleman galley slave with Tourette's syndrome…….).If you haven’t read Quicksilver, buy it together with this one and be prepared for a literary feast!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Standing on the shoulders of giants 16 Feb 2005
Cryptonomicon was astounding. Weaving together multiple periods in time isn't a new idea but in the right hands it is a powerful tool.
Quicksilver, a massively-pre prequel, was almost as good. A huge book, a real epic, but you're forever stuck with idea that the sheer good fortune of our central characters - just how lucky did Jack, Eliza and Daniel have to be in order to mix with the factual people they did - was a little bit too much. But you were having so much fun, you gave Stephenson more slack.
And so the sequence rolls on - The Confusion will be just that if you've not read Quicksilver (which itself was probably better if you'd read Cryptonomicon). It's a huge endeavour - it took me an age to finish it, and while it starts slowly it's a real slow burner. By the end you'll be as gripped as with the best cinematic thriller.
It's a subtle read, you really do need to pay close attention (or to have access to the Megaweb wiki to look up those previous threads) or you'll lose track completely, but ultimately it is worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime & Intriguing 27 Nov 2007
In the Baroque cycle (of which this is the 2nd book) and in his previous book Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson creates sublime story-scapes mixing history, science and fiction to create a kind of new mythology of recent western history.

As a reader you a drawn in unsure of where the boundaries between truth and make believe lie. You mind and knowledge are vastly expanded but you always have the nagging worry that what you have just learnt isn't quite true - but the narrative is written so seamlessly that you never really find the edges.

This is epic and thought provoking fiction, if you have always loved Sci-Fi but have kind of grown up then this is for you.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post- Quicksilver 14 July 2004
The Confusion is aptly named. the first 50 or so pages seemed like Stephenson had planned three books and perhaps rushed out the second a little too quickly. I then had to revise this opinion. In places it doesn't manage to equal Quicksilver but perhaps some of that is due to the originality of the latter. Many of the same characters return, including Shaftoe, Eliza and Waterman. These characters development into more human figures as the book progresses with Shaftoe learning a degree of humility, Eliza a bit more compassion and Waterman becomes more endearing. The plot is quite complex which is what we'd expect from Stephenson; it doesn't disappoint. Newton and Leibnitz periodically appear and teach those of us ignorant of such matters a smattering of Science history and good pub trivia (if only pubs had geometry and similar subjects in their quizes).
The book is absorbing the characters often delightful. Intrigue and action co-exist with passion, compassion and human frailties. It ends gripingly. Buy it. Now. Go on you know you want to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Baroque cycle - Confusion
I had read Quicksilver previously and found that I started that book with keen interest but that it sapped the life out of me towards the end and i gave up with a few chapters to... Read more
Published 15 months ago by R. C. E. Guy
3.0 out of 5 stars Number two
I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed as I read this, and even though the style is not at all different from the first book, it didn't take me long to figure out what I was... Read more
Published on 5 April 2011 by Blackbeard
5.0 out of 5 stars More rich treasure
Confusion, the second volume in this massive epic trilogy, continues to use characters, both real and fictitious,to drive the action across many countries/cultures/civilisations,... Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2010 by Sentinel
4.0 out of 5 stars Easier than the first
I am entirely perplexed by this trilogy! Usually by the time I have read the first book in a trilogy - let alone the second - I know well whether I am intending to keep the series... Read more
Published on 8 Feb 2010 by A. L. Rutter
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness for bulk buying!
Having read a great deal about the Baroque cycle before buying i decided to order all 3 books in the series. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2008 by Charlie Mount
4.0 out of 5 stars epic
I've liked a lot this second episod of the saga. the focus shifts outside of europe and that also makes it more interesting. Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2006 by an italian in london
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowingly erudite !
I've been immersed in this novel for awhile now, and have resisted taking it to read on the train as I'd more than likely miss my stop. Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2006 by Ms. K. Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
I liked 'Snow Crash', absolutely loved 'Cryptonomicon' and am awed by the Baroque Cycle. Admittedly sometimes it is a bit too long. Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2006 by Dominic Buschi
4.0 out of 5 stars More Jack please
I just read this over a week while on holiday and as I was in the South of France, I found this an apt why to spend some of my time there. Read more
Published on 16 May 2005 by S. Baptist
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