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The System Of The World (Baroque Cycle 3) Paperback – 6 Oct 2005


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The System Of The World (Baroque Cycle 3) + The Confusion (Baroque Cycle 2) + Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle (Baroque Cycle 1)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (6 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099463369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099463368
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,772 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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Review

"Neal Stephenson has saved the best until last with The System of the World, a fittingly breathtaking conclusion to his Baroque Cycle, implausibly trumping all of the trilogy's previous strengths, but unfortunately introducing one weakness in that the whole rambunctiously magnificent undertaking had to end" (Christopher Brookmyre Glasgow Herald)

"Truly remarkable" (LA Times)

"Historical fiction was never this much fun - or this successful" (Entertainment Weekly)

Book Description

Neal Stephenson follows his highly-praised historical novels, Quicksilver and The Confusion, with the extraordinary third and final volume of the Baroque Cycle.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephen West on 19 Jan 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've almost finished this book, only a few precious pages remain. In truth I'm dreading the moment that I do. Stephenson's characters have lived in my mind for many a month now, since I first picked up Quicksilver in April last year, and I'll miss them terribly. During that time I've come to know the streets of London in the last part of the 17th century almost as well as I know the London of today, and I've travelled across Europe, the Middle East, India, and the American colonies. I have come to know Isaac Newton and Louis XIV as real people. I have been made to think, and to laugh out loud, and to cry. Stephenson's skill with language is such that one constantly notices the beauty, power, and skill of the writing, and yet it never draws attention away from what he is describing, which comes across in almost cinematically atmospheric scenes. If you liked the war scenes in Cryptonomicon the best, this is the book for you; only start with Quicksilver!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Travelling Jen on 30 Oct 2004
Format: Hardcover
Neal Stephenson has written a fine ending to his Baroque Cycle Trilogy. Despite being a little fragmented it held my attention and engrossed me right to the end (886 pages!)The stories all conclude in satisfying and appropriate ways. Nearly all my favourite characters were present to push their stories forward. Many loose ends were tied, some were only recognised as stray plots when the extra details arrived to tie the bow!
As usual, Stephenson has pushed the action into the entertaining and only just possible.The action is so gripping that it had me reading into the night. His grasp of period detail is such that it can be hard to realise that he didn't live in the period he is descibing. I found it hard to pick out his exaggerations and fabrications, so for me, the only jarring is his persistant use of american vocabulary. (Which I try to forgive as Daniel lived for so long near Boston!)
However, I'm not sure that a reader could enjoy to this book without reading the previous volumes (Quicksilver, The Confusion). There is too much assumed knowledge for the plot to be comprehensible at this stage of its development.
This trilogy is recommended reading for lovers of a good tale, enthusiasts of military, scientific, nautical, medical and social history,and everyone who enjoys an intelligent book with a fabulous plot. Read all three volumes!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Simon Drake on 4 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
It's taken me roughly 6 months to read all three books of the `Baroque Cycle' and I have just finished the last one, 'The System of the World'. Neal's accomplishment (and by reading the acknowledgements (as if another couple of pages reading matters by this stage!) is by no means his alone; centuries of historical records have been Alchemically morphed into a work of fiction that binds commercial, social and technical markers in the West's trajectory, creating a glimpse of a world back then where and when it all happened, so that today we enjoy the fruits of change and progress. All in all, if you like a touch of romance, intrigue, technology and trade - this is a fine collection to devour over a long winter.

I could rave on for hours about the depiction of London - because I live and work there - and this in itself gave me much delight.

All in all, I feel I'm a better person for reading `Baroque Cycle', purely because it might have never come my way and it wasn't thrust down my throat by some advertising blitz. I chanced upon the first book in my local library, and like all good treasures, it took a hold of me. I'd read `SnowCrash', so new of Mr Stephenson's work, and also new that as a writer it would be a gamble for him to write so intensely of a past period, and thankfully he took up that gamble because it's a great read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MagpieReader on 10 Dec 2004
Format: Hardcover
Neal Stephenson has done it again: just under 1,000 pages of dense, dark, glittering prose. If you've read the preceding two novels - Qucksilver and The Confusion - you'll be hard pressed to resist The System of the World. Why it lurks in the sci-fi sections of bookshops is a total mystery. More than just the last in his saga of science, politics and money in the 18th century - The System of the World is also a novel of ideas, a thriller and a slice of vividly imagined history in its own right. It's great to have the hugely entertaining Jack Shaftoe back and soaring over the heads of the London "mobile" scattering cash, the sinister Edouard de Gex, beautiful Eliza and the priapic Ravenscar. Daniel Waterhouse developes, too, and the Club he sets up to discover who's got it in for the Royal Society is a comic masterpiece - sort of geriatric, argumentative Bow St Runners. It's just as well the Baroque Cycle is titanically long, though. So few other writers comes close to equalling Stephenson in breath and range, that everything after this seems rather unexciting. Thankfully Luther Blisset (Q) and Patricia Finney (The Firedrake's Eye) can take up the slack.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Jan 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a very, very, very good book. Get your hands on it as soon as you can and read it. For best effect, read its predecessors, "Quicksilver" and "The Confusion", first. It is the third and (apparently) final volume in a series - the Baroque Cycle - and the overall impact builds up steadily over the three books.
The entire cycle (the author apparently doesn't like the term "trilogy") is set in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and views its characters though a number of themes - Natural Philosophy, war, money, commerce, alchemy, slavery, religion and many more. My impression was that in this volume, the themes go deeper, and Stephenson works harder on them, than in the preceding volumes. Despite this he succeeds in maintaining the pace, a trick which the earlier two (especially "Quicksilver") didn't always manage quite so well (though they were still excellent overall). It could be though that those earlier books did the hard work and set the scene.
Anyway, "System of the World" brings things to a tidy(ish) conclusion. There are suprises. There is a detective sub plot (along the lines of Samuel Pepys meets John Rebus). There is minute detail on London. (Please, someone, organise a Baroque Cycle walking tour - I'm sure it would be more rewarding than for certain bestselling historical novels I could name).
Actually this is the third in a series of four - the fourth, Cryptonomicon, which is set in the 20th century, was published first. The relationship with Cryptonomicon is loose - broadly the characters here are ancestors of those in the later (er, earlier) book and there is geekish fun to be had in watching Stephenson dispose everyone correctly by the end of "System".
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