Quicksilver is a historic fiction novel by Neal Stephenson and published on 2003-09-23 and makes up the first three volumes of The Baroque Cycle. The book follows three characters made up for the story as they interact with an otherwise historical England during the days of Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, Robert Hooke, and various other members of the Royal Society.
The book consists of three smaller books, Quicksilver, The King of the Vagabonds, and Odalisque. The sequel is The Confusion.
Having read Snow Crash, I was already a fan of Stephenson, and, when I saw Quicksilver on clearance for only seven dollars, I had to buy it. I originally started reading this book shortly after it was published, but never finished the first book. A few years later, I re-started it, and finished book 1 and almost book 2, but still gave up. In 2016, I found an audio book version of it, and finished it in a few weeks. It's a daunting read, but extremely worth it.
I own a first edition hardcover of this book. I have read half of it in book form, and listened to the entire thing as an audio book.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- For the vast majority of the book, I enjoyed the story and characters which is quite a feat considering how long the book is.
- The attention to detail on the various cultures of the time and the vast array of historical figures is astounding.
- I liked the inclusion of the ancestors from the Cryptonomicon. The Shaftoes, Waterhouses, and Roots had impressive lineages.
- The character Enoch Root, who seems to have discovered the philosophical mercury, is particularly interesting.
- While I thoroughly enjoyed the characters Jack and Eliza, I kept wishing they would have more interactions with the members of the Royal Society, as I wanted to know more about the scientific discoveries.
- The Shaftoe and Waterhouse link goes too far to the point of being unbelievable.
- There seemed to be a bit of padding, parts of the story that were unimportant to the plot, but even they weren't very tedious.
- Nothing, this book is amazing.