21 January 2007

2. The System of the World by Neal Stephenson

Clocking in at nealry 1000 pages, this book took me about six months to finish. And I am glad I am done. In all, the trilogy was about 3000 pages. Quite a tale.

This is the conclusion to the Baroque Cycle, chronicling the adventures of the natural philosopher Daniel Waterhouse, the Vagabond King Jack Shaftoe, and their various satellites. I posted on Book 1 and Book 2 in September.

The story spans about 80 years - from the mid 1600s to the early 1700s.

The writing was great and the plot details were, uh, many and various. Sometimes it was difficult to keep up with the sheer number of characters as we plodded along with the machinations of the Royal Society (of Natural Philosophers) and the various Vagabonds and vagabond deals. It became especially difficult as some of the characters became Landed or Titled or came into their Lands and Titles, the Earl of that and the Duke of this and so on became burdensome.

I quite enjoyed the Jack Shaftoe sections of the book and where the philospher stuff overlapped I submitted patiently. But when it was exclusively the infighting between, say, Isaac newton and Gottfried Liebniz, well, I just didn't really care.

Glad I read it, happy to be done, and I look forward to Cryptonomicon.


Olman Feelyus said...

Congratulatons! Well done. Neal Stephenson is the ultimate geek. I hear you on the philosophy stuff being boring, but after taking Calculus for the first time last year, it did make me appreciate much more the fiction he created about Newton and Liebnitz. Still, it was too much for me and I don't think I will ever read the 2nd and 3rd books.

(note, your last two posts are all entirely underlined for some reason.)

JoeBlogs said...

Well done, i find its always satisfying to finish reading a book.

dsgran said...

Thanks for these reviews! I bought the whole series while I was back in the states and I plan to read them some time this year. Looking forward to it.