The System of the World : Baroque Cycle

  • by Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson (introduction)
  • Series: Baroque Cycle
  • 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this concluding volume of Neal Stephenson’s epic work, “Half-Cocked Jack” Shaftoe must escape the noose of Jack Ketch; the rivalry between Newton and Leibniz comes to a head; and Daniel Waterhouse pursues his dream to build the Logic Mill.
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.

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What the Critics Say

“Learned, violent, sarcastic and profound: a glorious finish to one of the most ambitious epics of recent years.” (Kirkus Reviews)
The sort of work that quickly becomes an obsession.” (Toronto Star)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Julie W. Capell

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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- Matthew A. Razzano

Book Details

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