The Confusion, volume 2 of The Baroque Style

Discussion in 'Neal Stephenson' started by kenubrion, Sep 26, 2016.

  1. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I picked The Baroque Style to be the next book after my intro to Stephenson with Seveneves, largely due to the 4&1/2 star ratings of volumes 2 and 3, as they are the only Stephenson books rated that highly by Amazon readers. A quick glance at the reviews for The Confusion shows many comments to the effect that this was the favorite book of the three. Now that I'm 55% through volume 3, The System of the World, I can now say that I agree with those comments and absolutely loved The Confusion. Stephenson adds a lot of action to the story in this volume, and Jack Shaftoe takes center stage, whereas Eliza and Daniel Waterhouse were the stars of Quicksilver, volume 1.

    But otherwise The Confusion is more of what makes this series great, brilliant storytelling and intrigue, lots of laugh out loud dry humor, Stephenson teaching as usual about so many different topics, and a wonderful and detailed look at the lives and loves of prominent and common people living in France, England and The Netherlands. Oh, and the dialogue. I have never been captured and held by dialogue before, and as with the first volume, even without the action in this volume, I would come back solely for the dialogue.

    I have concluded that Neal Stephenson is the most entertaining author I have read.
    Boreas likes this.
  2. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Quick note as I passed the Big Reveal at 60% of The System of the World and am now trying to hold myself back from finishing this and the emptiness that will ensue:

    I've been trying to decide if there's a common theme throughout the three volumes/eight books. So many topics are included in such detail, like war, plague, fire, architecture (!), money, finance, pirates, religions, physics, calculus, chemistry, astronomy, alchemy, and etc...

    But I just realized that there is an underlying theme to all of it, and that is commentary on class structure of human societies. By concentrating on royalty and peers of each realm (England, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Middle East, India, and etc...), Stephenson allows the interactions of the poor and working classes with the Persons of Quality to highlight the vast differences in their lives, and allows him elevate certain characters from the bottom to the top and thus show the system for what it is. He obviously is a vocal opponent of the idea of royalty and peerage, as are we all at this late date.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
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  3. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Also one of the most influential genre authors of our time, and with an appeal that crosses over hugely into the mainstream. I'd imagine that as a futurist he's taken almost as seriously as Clarke might have been (well, maybe not qutie). But certainly with the tech savvy crowd.
  4. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Well it's early yet for him and hopefully Seveneves denotes a direction that develops further in the years to come.

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