The System of the World

The final book of the Baroque Cycle, and it feels like a real achievement to have gone through them all. They have their slow spots, but also excellent action and characters I love. Best of all, this book focuses on the latter two, with only one section of long theoretical dialog (about the nature of God in this case), which was so common in the other books and somethings so hard to follow. This story line was well worth the 2,500 or so pages it took, and the last book was a pleasure to read. It feels like there should be more books in this universe, but I’m not aware of any — perhaps later?

[award: winner prometheus 2005]
[isbn: 0060750863;0060750863]


This is the second last book in the Baroque Cycle and its good to see so many diverse plot elements being wrapped up. It does feel like Neal is going to have to work pretty hard to get them all wrapped up in just one more book — especially at the pace that these books move at. This book focuses on Daniel’s adventures in London, although the usual suspects are of course present. An enjoyable read.

[isbn: 0060750863;0060895357]

Solomon’s Gold

This is book six of the Baroque Cycle, following on from Quicksilver, King of the Vagabonds, Odalisque, Bonanza, and The Juncto (the last two of which are referred to as The Confusion when read together as a single volume).

I’m glad that I accidentally read Longitude before this book, as in this work Daniel is a proponent of the lunar distance method, which was one of the main contenders to win the Longitude Prize. Lord Ravenscar proposed the prize in the book, which is a nice plot element. He of course wants to win the prize as well.

This book is much faster moving than most of the previous (except perhaps for King of the Vagabonds and Bonanza). Its a good read, and I can see how all of the previous setup is starting to pay off.

[isbn: 0060750863;0060895284]

The Confusion

The Confusion is a merging of Bonanza and The Juncto, which I think is more than the mere sum of the two parts. The weaving of the stories together makes for a very readable volume, with slow patches in each individual story line being covered nicely with a switch to the other. Additionally there are a few several year gaps in the stories which would be much more jarring if there wasn’t something from the other story line in between. Overall, I think I prefer to read these two books in this con-fused manner, instead of separately.

[isbn: 0060733357]


This is a story about Jack Shaftoe travelling the world after making his poor business decision at the end of the previous book. I think it best serves as a foil to The Juncto, as the story line takes a few irrelevant turns and has some big gaps in it which are jarring.

[isbn: 0060733357]

King of the Vagabonds

I thought I was reading this book slowly, until I remembered that I am reading the large page three books all in one volume version. If I had bought this book as a single paperback in a standard paper size it would have been 400 pages. This book is better than Quicksilver, with a more engaging story line and less time spent on verbose descriptions of life 300 years ago. I’m sure those descriptions will be vital later in the series, but when you’re reading them they are still a chore. This book is a page turner, even if the plot is a little hard to believe in places. I enjoyed it a lot.

[isbn: 0060593083;0060833173]


This book is well written, and a delight to read. I love meeting the forefathers of characters from Cryptonomicon, and this book is an excellent piece of historical fiction. It does however drag on a little in the middle when Daniel is tied up in London intrigue. I think this section would have worked a bit better with some action, but that is obviously just my personal preference. Overall, a good book.

[isbn: 0060593083;0060833165]


I read this book on an international trip, and it was a good choice for that. Its long (around 900 pages), but very readable. This is the second time I’ve read the book, and this time its amazing how well the description of Silicon Valley startups matches my experiences there. I love this book.

Update 2022: having now read this book for a third time, I have to say it does stand the test of time. However, having read the rest of the Baroque Cycle now, I do wish somewhere in the series more attention was paid to explaining Enoch Root’s back story.

Cryptonomicon Book Cover Cryptonomicon
Neal Stephenson
Code and cipher stories
Random House

"Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that have shaped the past century. Weaving together the cracking of the Axis codes during WWII and the quest to establish a free South East Asian 'data haven' for digital information in the present, Cryptonomicon explores themes of power, information, secrecy and war in the twentieth century in a gripping and page-turning thriller." - product description.