Sunday, January 17, 2016


I'm happy to report that the second volume in The Baroque Cycle trilogy wasn't just a wavy line connecting the beginning and the end of the story arc. In fact Stephenson "con-fused" two books together to make up this middle volume. If I remember correctly the first volume was made up of three books so The Confusion is made up of books 4 and 5. Contrast this technique to that of The Two Towers for example which follows on the end of the The Fellowship of the Ring by following some members of the fellowship for an entire book before we ever get to find out the fate of the other members of the fellowship in the second half (book four) of that volume. Not so in this case. More or less instant gratification! no lines, no waiting

Stephenson has woven a complex tale that continues to span years, even decades, dogging the varied and often crossing paths of this enormous cast of characters as they move even further afield. This volume truly spans the early world; at a time when circumnavigating the world was still a new, rare thing.

This installment brings us some answers to questions raised in the first volume. Always a preference to endless teasing in a trilogy. But it also makes new connections and raises new questions, so has me looking forward to the last volume, which I've just taken out from my library.

Stephenson knows what a reader needs and moves the storyline forward at a steady rate. The beginnings of the first volume seemed slow but with a story this epic, it's like an ocean tanker, it takes a while to get it going. This is a fun take on historical fiction, and has some of that snarky inserting of modern slang into the mouths of Enlightenment Era characters. But it doesn't seem like Stephenson uses this technique to ignore the history, it feels like he's done the research and there are strong bones holding up this epic farce.

And Baroque indeed! Festoon away, my depilated penman!

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