The System of the World

The cover of Stephenson's The System of the WorldI had two thoughts upon finishing this:

  1. Phew!
  2. I should read them again.

This third volume completes Neal Stephenson’s three volume, eight book, million+ word Baroque Cycle (alongside Quicksilver and The Confusion). The length and intricate detail of this epic makes the conclusion that much sweeter. Plot threads left dangling hundreds of thousands of words earlier suddenly return with one-armed vengeance!

This cycle can be appreciated on so many levels. The plot is gripping—especially in this third volume. The prose sucks you into the world of eighteenth century Europe. The philosophical debates are engaging. The characters feel as real as your neighbours.

The part that impressed me the most was a detailed theological debate between two characters in the eighth book. When the characters started to argue I began to worry. Theology is my discipline and I expected to find errors and omissions in Stephenson’s work. To my surprise, the author handled the minutiae of eighteenth century theology with great insight! This increased my confidence in the rest of his historical research.

The Baroque Cycle is historical fiction like no other. It is gripping literature at its finest. If you haven’t yet read it, I envy you. You’re in for a wild ride.


Stephenson, Neal. The System of the World. New York: Harper Perennial, 2004.

, , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

antispam