Almost two years ago, I read Quicksilver, the first volume of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. It wasn’t until two months ago, that I read The Confusion and The System of the World, the second and third volumes. By then it was clear that I had forgotten much of the first book, so I re-read it.
The books are sufficiently intertwined that it would have been better had I read all three in quick succession, rather than leaving such a long interval.
Quicksilver stands up well to re-reading. Plot points that had escaped my notice earlier stood out to me now. He foreshadows certain themes, such as economics and coinage, that will become important in later volumes. Daniel and Eliza’s anachronistic attitudes bothered me less this time around.
Overall, I recommend the Baroque Cycle, though you’ll need to set aside a good deal of time to read three such huge volumes. It’s an ambitious work, well told. Stephenson sheds light on a remarkable few decades when the world opened up, going from an age of Kings to the Age of Enlightenment, when alchemy crumbled and the foundations of modern science were laid, when the basis of economys went from land to thoroughly modern-sounding financial instruments.