I finished The Confusion, volume two of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, so I’m on track to complete my summer reading project of all three behemoths! Volume 1, Quicksilver, was divided into 3 books, one each for Daniel Waterhouse the natural philosopher, Jack Shaftoe the vagabond, and Eliza the former Turkish concubine. The Confusion alternates between book 4, Bonanza, which is Jack’s story, and book 5, Juncto, which is Eliza’s. As in Quicksilver, and Cryptonomicon before it, I found the Shaftoe parts more enjoyable; they’re frequently humorous tales of adventure, in the spirit of the picaroon novels Stephenson mentions in the stories.
Eliza is embroiled in intrigue and finance, plus has a vendetta against one man (or is it several?) who done her wrong. Her story was more frequently affecting, and much more complex and challenging.
These books are challenging and great fun. I’m learning about history, though it’s a fictionalized version. And I’m enjoying myself with a vast cast of characters I like spending time with. Which is good, because these books are so long. Overlong? Perhaps. But it’s hard to resist Stephenson’s zeal for the historical subjects and his characters.
I’ll have a little incidental reading in between, but then I’ll be off into volume three, The System of the World.