George V. Reilly

Review: The System of the World

The System of the World
Title: The System of the World: The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3
Author: Neal Stephenson
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: William Morrow
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 892
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 5–19 October, 2008

Neal Stephenson’s massive, sprawling Baroque Cycle began with Quick­sil­ver, continued in The Confusion, and concludes with The System of the World.

1714: Daniel Waterhouse has been recalled from Boston by Princess Caroline of Ansbach, soon to be Princess of Wales, after the last Stuart monarch dies, so that he can intervene in the rancorous dispute between Newton and Leibniz over who invented calculus. The plot is too complex to summarize, but it’s a glorious farrago of coun­ter­feit­ing gold coins, alchemy, Solomonic gold, the squalor of Eighteenth century London, the emergence of modern science, the Age of En­light­en­ment, œconomics, the Hanoverian succession, intrigue, jailbreaks, slavery, and love.

The series finally clicked for me with this book: the plot and the characters pulled me through.

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