The System of the World by Neal Stephenson
(The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3)

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Synopsis

'Tis done.

The world is a most confused and unsteady place -- especially London, center of finance, innovation, and conspiracy -- in the year 1714, when Daniel Waterhouse makes his less-than-triumphant return to England's shores. Aging Puritan and Natural Philosopher, confidant of the high and mighty and contemporary of the most brilliant minds of the age, he has braved the merciless sea and an assault by the infamous pirate Blackbeard to help mend the rift between two adversarial geniuses at a princess's behest. But while much has changed outwardly, the duplicity and danger that once drove Daniel to the American Colonies is still coin of the British realm.

No sooner has Daniel set foot on his homeland when he is embroiled in a dark conflict that has been raging in the shadows for decades. It is a secret war between the brilliant, enigmatic Master of the Mint and closet alchemist Isaac Newton and his archnemesis, the insidious counterfeiter Jack the Coiner, a.k.a. Jack Shaftoe, King of the Vagabonds. Hostilities are suddenly moving to a new and more volatile level, as Half-Cocked Jack plots a daring assault on the Tower itself, aiming for nothing less than the total corruption of Britain's newborn monetary system.

Unbeknownst to all, it is love that set the Coiner on his traitorous course; the desperate need to protect the woman of his heart -- the remarkable Eliza, Duchess of Arcachon-Qwghlm -- from those who would destroy her should he fail. Meanwhile, Daniel Waterhouse and his Clubb of unlikely cronies comb city and country for clues to the identity of the blackguard who is attempting to blow up Natural Philosophers with Infernal Devices -- as political factions jockey for position while awaiting the impending death of the ailing queen; as the "holy grail" of alchemy, the key to life eternal, tantalizes and continues to elude Isaac Newton, yet is closer than he ever imagined; as the greatest technological innovation in history slowly takes shape in Waterhouse's manufactory.

Everything that was will be changed forever ...

The System of the World is the concluding volume in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, begun with Quicksilver and continued in The Confusion.
 

About Neal Stephenson

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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde; Anathem; the three-volume historical epic The Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World); as well as Cryptonomicon; The Diamond Age; Snow Crash, which was named one of Time magazine's top one hundred all-time best English-language novels; and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 368 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The System of the World

Kirkus Reviews

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As prolix as Waterhouse and his comrade-in-long-windedness, Isaac Newton, can be in their scientific discourses, it’s nothing compared to the mind-boggling stew of conspiracy that’s London, with Tories and Whigs battling for position and civil war threatened over the possible ascension of the Han...

Sep 01 2004 | Read Full Review of The System of the World (The ...

BC Books

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Neal Stephanson's epic Baroque Cycle is either a trilogy that concludes with this book, or a nonology for which The System of the World provides three volumes—one in which the "final" volume, Crytonomicon, was the first published.

Sep 01 2005 | Read Full Review of The System of the World (The ...

Entertainment Weekly

Originally posted Oct 01, 2004 Published in issue #786 Oct 01, 2004 Order article reprints

Oct 01 2004 | Read Full Review of The System of the World (The ...

About.com

Set in the early 18th century and featuring a diverse cast of characters that includes alchemists, mathematicians, thieves, pirates, and royalty, The System of the World follows Daniel Waterhouse to some of the most brilliant minds of the age, as he returns to England to repair the rift between S...

Sep 28 2004 | Read Full Review of The System of the World (The ...

About.com

The System of the World's title refers to three significant ideas.

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About.com

In one sense, writing a review of The System of the World, the third and final volume in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle, is an act of futility: virtually every reader who has plowed through the first 1700 pages of the story is likely to read the last 900, and certainly no reader should start...

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Bookmarks Magazine

In Stephenson’s concluding volume of his Baroque Cycle (after Quicksilver and The Confusion), a new "system of the world" emerges, based on a new idea of power—economic, scientific, and mechanical.

Oct 08 2007 | Read Full Review of The System of the World (The ...

The Zone

So, here it is, the final volume of Neal Stephenson's immense Baroque Cycle, which has consumed 3,000 pages, spans a period of 60 years, a cast of thousands, and nearly a year of my life.

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