In this richly imagined follow-up to his bestseller 'Cryptonomicon' , Neal Stephenson brings to life a cast of unforgettable characters in a time of breathtaking genius and discovery, men and women whose exploits defined the age of the High Baroque... Daniel Waterhouse possesses a brilliant scientific mind and yet knows that his genius is dwarfed by that of his friends Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, and Robert Hooke. A student of the twin disciplines of science and alchemy, he is embroiled in a bloody struggle for religious freedom. Jack Shaftoe began his life as a London street urchin and is now a reckless wanderer in search of good fortune. The intrepid exploits of Half-Cocked Jack, King of the Vagabonds, are quickly becoming the stuff of legend through Europe. Eliza is a young woman whose ingenuity is all that keeps her alive after being set adrift from the Turkish harem in which she has been imprisoned since she was a child. Daniel, Jack and Eliza traverse a landscape populated by mad alchemists, Barbary pirates, and bawdy courtiers, as well as historical figures including Samuel Pepys, Ben Franklin, and other great minds of the age. Travelling from the infant American colonies to the Tower of London, the glittering courts of Louis XIV, and all manner of places in between, this magnificent historical epic brings to vivid life a time like no other, and establishes its author as one of the pre-eminent talents of our own age.
"[A] massive tour-de-force- Dense, witty, erudite, packed with fascinating characters, and gripping despite a distended length, Quicksilver is both a worthy prequel to Cryptonomicon, and an indication that Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is shaping up to be a far more impressive literary endeavour than most so-called "serious" fiction - No scholarly, and intellectually provocative, historical novel has been this much fun since The Name of the Rose." -- Charles Shaar Murray * Independent * "Staggering diversity and detail ... An astonishing achievement." * Sunday Telegraph * "A great, heaving countryside of a book...consistently funny...fluent and elusive, while retaining just the right hint of poison" * Telegraph * "Stephenson mixes a library's worth of ideas with compulsive derring-do ... its scope and inventiveness become addictive." * Time Out * "A breathless ride...the writing gives an immersive sense of time and place" * Face *