The System of the World

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895 Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
By Julie W. Capell on 01-03-15

So good, I want to start the whole series over

It’s not often that I like a book so much I want to read it over again. With trilogies, it has only happened once before (Lord of the Rings, of course). With really long books, once is always enough (2666). But this Baroque Cycle was simply so astonishingly good, the characters so real, the story so compelling, that I would begin it again tomorrow if I didn’t have two book club books waiting for me and 50 others on my nightstand.

I don’t know how Stephenson managed to sustain the great writing across the nearly 3,000 pages in this series, but he did, right through to the very end. I will mention just two passages that struck me as the best ever in their category: the best sex scene ever, and the best duel ever.

The seduction of Daniel Waterhouse on the Roman chariot in the shadow of the fake volcano is surely the best sex scene ever written. Here is a short excerpt:

“Tilt your pelvis the other way, if you please, sir. There, much better, you’ll admit! Now, leave the rest to me, sir. The balance of this chariot can be a bit tricky. The ride a bit rough.” Indeed, the axle bearings of the chariot of Vulcan presently began to creak as it got to rocking forward and back, forward and back on its wheels. Daniel was old and the ride was correspondingly long but the primo mobile—the body of Miss Barton—was young and as everyone in London agreed, in the most superb condition, and more than equal to the work.

The duel using cannons between Charles White and Dappa, written in Stephenson’s typical hyper-detailed mode, poked a hole the size of a howitzer in the swashbuckling genre and drove right through it. I have seldom laughed so hard while reading. Sheer genius!!

I cannot fail to once again note the SUPERB narration provided by Simon Prebble on the audio book. He gave each character a distinct voice and allowed all the humor to shine through. Listening to Mr. Prebble’s performance is undoubtedly the best way to experience the Baroque Cycle.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Matthew A. Razzano on 12-27-11

Great conclusion

Where does The System of the World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the top 5. It's really that good.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love so many of the, but most of all I love Jack. Even when facing certain doom he has a ridiculously unfeasible plan.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes in the other Baroque Cycle novels, and this one is right up there.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several but I'm not spoiling ANYTHING in this review so read it yourself!

Any additional comments?

This book isn't really a book all its own, but a conclusion to a long series that is actually three volumes of the same book. DO NOT START WITH THIS ONE! These books really need to be read in order or you won't have a clue as to what's going on.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By jon on 08-17-15

Sad to finish it. Maybe I'll read it again.

They did a great job with the reading except for the voice of the 30ish letter writing Eliza. Etienne would have cut out her tongue for the offensive tone of her voice (being the politest man in France) . Probably reading the series again soon!!!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tim on 03-07-14

Last Nibble

After spending about a month with all three volumes that consist of 115 hours, I have accomplished something that I wanted to do for years. I have to thank my friend for reminding me to purchase these books. I'm not a hoarder of books. Just because an audiobook is on sale, I don't get them and save them for later. I don't like having stockpile of books that I might not ever read. I tend to buy them as I go. Having a backlog of reading material is a chore and not a pleasure.

As for the last book in the "Baroque Cycle", I have the up most respect for Neal Stephenson and how well he can tell a story and stay on topic. It is remarkable how focus he was to write almost 2700 pages and publish them within a few years time. Unlike his predecessor George R.R. Martin in "A Song of Ice and Fire", Neal Stephenson completed the "Baroque Cycle" in favor for his audience. I don't like to compare the two authors together, but it seems like Martin is being selfish by not completing his series in a timely fashion. Even his loyal followers, including myself, have their doubts that he will ever finish them.

Coming to the end to "The System of the World" is a bitter sweet. I am relief that it has ended and with the result that I was expecting. I kind of wish that there was a fourth volume because it is that awesome. Besides the "Dark Tower" by Stephen King, "Baroque Cycle" has to be one of my favorites. Neal Stephenson wrote this one for his readers and chose not to extend the tale any further. In that respect, he is a decorative author that enjoys his readers.

I have no regrets at getting to know Jack, Newton, Eliza and Daniel.

In my review of "Quicksilver", I have compared it to starting an eight course meal.

I have come to the last nibble and I'm satisfied.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alennx on 05-28-17

Get them all and listen in order. Excellent!

One of the best series I've ever read/heard :)

Wildly interesting, exciting, funny, sad, epic and subtle.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By K. Hall on 03-28-13

An epic tale of the world on the brink

What made the experience of listening to The System of the World the most enjoyable?

I made it through all eight parts of this most intriguing tale. Stephenson creates characters that seem to jump through the mists of time to be real and alive.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Where to start. All the characters were intriguing. The main - Half-Cocked Jack, Drs. Waterhouse, Leibnitz and Newton, Lady Eliza, and Enoch the Red. Plus the minors of Jack's brother Bob and Jack's sons, Father Ed, Fraze, Dapper, Princess Caroline, Roger Comstock, Hook, Wren, and the rest of the lot.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Simon Prebble has as gifted a voice as Jim Dale. Each character was fully realized, different, and distinctive. Even the ladies. I'd recommend this for him alone if the story were half as good as it is. They were all great.

Any additional comments?

This is an epic tale of the birth of modernism of the baroque period. It is fiction, Stephenson refers to it as science-fiction due to it centering around Isaac Newton and many other contemporaries of the Royal Society; I'd go a bit further with historical science fiction. It's a great long yarn told with names of dead white guys with big wigs you heard in school, but didn't know anything about them. All eight parts of the tale probably total over 75 hours, but what a ride.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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