Quicksilver : Baroque Cycle

  • by Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson (introduction)
  • Series: Baroque Cycle
  • 14 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this first volume of Neal Stephenson’s genre-defying epic, Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.
The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson’s award-winning series, spans the late 17th and early 18th centuries, combining history, adventure, science, invention, piracy, and alchemy into one sweeping tale. It is a gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive historical epic populated by the likes of Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin, and King Louis XIV, along with some of the most inventive literary characters in modern fiction.
Audible’s complete and unabridged presentation of The Baroque Cycle was produced in cooperation with Neal Stephenson. Each volume includes an exclusive introduction read by the author.


What the Critics Say

“[The “Baroque Cycle”] will defy any category, genre, precedent, or label – except genius….Stephenson has a once-in-a-generation gift: he makes complex ideas clear, and he makes them funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling.” (Time)
“A book of immense ambition, learning, and scope, Quicksilver is often brilliant and occasionally astonishing in its evocation of a remarkable time and place.” (Washington Post Book World)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Be aware of what you're getting into

It's unfortunate that "Quicksilver" will turn so many listeners off the Baroque Cycle, because the other volumes are much more fun. "Quicksilver" is hard work, and is best thought of as an extended atmosphere-builder rather than a story. It is very rewarding though, if you know what you're getting into.

To enjoy "Quicksilver", you need three things:

* You need to be content with the fact that there's no plot. At all. All that happens is that a guy called Daniel wanders around London in the 1660s and 70s and chats with the leading scientific figures of the age. That's it. Oh, and there's some stuff about piracy in Massachusetts. Don't get me wrong,it's amazing writing and you will learn so much. You will get an amazing sense of the texture and atmosphere of the era. But there's barely a shred of story. Some people won't be able to deal with that. I didn't mind.

* You need a basic familiarity with the history of the 1660s and 70s and with the aforementioned scientific figures. Complete newbies will be baffled. Get prepared to do a lot of Wikipedia-ing.

* You need to want to listen to insanely detailed explanations of baroque science and the birth of economics. It's fascinating stuff ... if you like that kind of thing.

I enjoyed the listen, on the whole, although the wordiness and lack of forward progression does make it a struggle at times. And it undoubtedly is of extremely limited appeal. You might be better advised to start with Volume 2 if you'd like a story rather than a scene-setter.

The reader is brilliant.
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- David

Be warned my fellow reader.

While I thought I should have waited for reviews prior to spending a credit on this book, it probably would not have saved me. Stephenson generally gets such good reviews that I probably would have eventually succumbed and regretted only later.

The publisher review states that the book defies description and genre. I disagree. This is quite simply, a Fictionalized History of Science and frankly, for me, not a great one. If Science History is what you are looking for, try A Short History of Nearly Everything by, Walk In the Woods, Bill Bryson. It's witty, charming and will hold your attention much more than this tome.

QS is well narrated but, for me, quite frankly the compliments cease there. The book rambles, there is little continuity except chronological that I could glean. While I endured the agony, I finished it but never found any part of it that drew me in and held me captivated. I am a scientist by education and studied science history which is interesting to me. But this book? Be warned my fellow reader. Some folks rate books highly because they think that they should and not because the book actually deserves it. But they are mistaken. I truly believe this is the case here. My only saving grace: it was just one credit.
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- Robert "Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-10-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios