George V. Reilly

Review: The Confusion

The Confusion
Title: The Confusion: The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2
Author: Neal Stephenson
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: William Morrow
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 832
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 13 Sep­tem­ber–5 October, 2008

Neal Stephenson’s massive, sprawling Baroque Cycle began with Quick­sil­ver and continues in the aptly named Confusion. The book in­ter­weaves two novels, Bonanza and The Juncto, taking place between 1689 and 1702. Bonanza follows Jack Shaftoe, as he and other galley slaves in Algiers capture Spanish gold of particular sig­nif­i­cance to some highly placed alchemists, and make their way ever eastward, through Cairo, India, Manila, and Mexico. The Juncto deals primarily with Eliza, now a French duchess, and her remarkable financial derring-do.

The previous book concerned itself with the in­tel­lec­tu­al ferment around the Royal Society and European savants, such as Leibniz. Major themes of this book include œconomics, alchemy, and the dawn of the En­light­en­ment.

En­ter­tain­ing, but also far too long.

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