This is book 6 of 8 in the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. I'm slowly working my way through the series while reading some other material to keep up with my book groups. Since this is part of an eight book series, writing a review for each book is a little like writing a review following long chapters of a long book.
This book picks up from the very beginning of Quicksilver, book one of the series, with Daniel Waterhouse returning to Europe from Massachusetts in 1713 at the request of Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach for the purpose of resolving an explosive scientific battle of preeminence between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz over the development of calculus. Therefore, Books 1 through 5 have served as a flashback into the earlier life of Daniel and various other characters, both historical and fictional.
The following are some snippets from what I remember from the book:
1. Daniel Waterhouse witnesses a demonstration of an early prototype steam powered pump designed for the purpose of dewatering nickel mines in Cornwall.
2. I learned what a money-scrivener is, and the reason why his services are needed.
3. The book provides a description of early 18th Century economics in England.
4. The geography of the London in 1714, and the Tower of London complex in particular, is described in great detail in the book.
5. The relationship of religion and politics was explored by the book.
6. There are various conversations by these 18th Century characters indicating the need for an "automatic knowledge storage machine." There is some historical basis for this. However it may also be a Twenty-First Century author portending the development of the digital computer.
7. The book provides a description of Frederick (the great) of Russia wanting to develop a center for the study of natural philosophy (i.e. science).
8. The book has an interesting description of Bear baiting.
9. The book contains a humorous conversation between two individuals who are trying to insult each other but are disguising it within traditional Quaker style "thee and thou" speech.
10. The book contains a mystery involving a time bomb which is a very innovative device for the time.
11. The conflicted politics of the time are described. The death of Queen Anne on England is anticipated, and the Catholic's want her half-brother James Francis Edward Stuart to be the next king, and the Protestants want George Augustus, the electoral prince of Hanover, to be king.
12. Toward the end of the book there's an incredible scene of George "The Coiner" attacking the Tower of London via a zip-line. The scene of course is fictional and as a practical matter probably impossible. But it's a heck of a story.
13. The mystery continues on into the next book because once the Tower is invaded, they're not interested in the crown jewels. They're interested in doing something else, and the readers of this book will need to read the next book in the series to find out what and why.LINK TO
Wikipedia article about the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO
my review of Quick Silver (Bk. 1) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO
my review of King of the Vagabonds (Bk. 2) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO
my review of Odalisque (Bk. 3) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO
my review of The Confusion (Bks. 4 & 5) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO
my review of Currency (Bk. 7) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO
my review of System of the World (Bk. 8) by Neal Stephenson.