13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A work of sheer class,
This review is from: Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle (Baroque Cycle 1) (Paperback)
I stumbled upon this book in a Japanese bookstore and bought it on a whim, mainly because English language books in Japan are pretty expensive. I thought given its weight, this one might last me a while. I'd already read Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" some 10 years before and remembered how much I had enjoyed it back then, so I was curious to see if he could write as well about past history as he does about the future.
Quicksilver is an absolute treat. The characters are richly detailed and really draw you into the story. The way Stephenson cleverly weaves their lives together from different directions, jumping backwards and forwards in time on occasions to contrast different stages of the overall story makes me realize why this guy is a bestseller, and I could never be. The sheer consistency throughout the book (despite its length) at times almost makes you want to sit back and gasp. There are simply no weak, or boring parts.
Other than pointing out that the book largely takes place in the late 17th century in Europe I'm not goint to spend time outlining the plot (there are other reviewers who have done that already). But don't be put off if historical novels are not your thing. I was a little unsure about whether I'd be interested in this period of history until I read Quicksilver, and now I have to say I'm absolutely hooked.
Quicksilver itself is divided into 3 "books" (although these are contained within a single volume). At the end of the first book I had grown quite fond of Daniel Waterhouse (the main character) and was disappointed to leave him behind for a while. However Stephenson quickly introduces the hilarious double-act of Jack and later Eliza in book 2 and the story just gets better and better.
As a portrayal of history I can't say clearly how accurate the story is - clearly a good dose of artistic license has been taken, but as a thrilling, exhilarating (and at times laugh-out-loud) journey into the past, it is simply faultless. One word of warning... This is an intelligently written work and at the risk of sounding snobbish, probably won't be your cup of tea if you're more at home with Chris Ryan or Jeffery Archer. However if you like to read something which leaves you feeling genuinely more enlightened than when you first picked it up, you can't go wrong with this one.