EPS Review #170 - The Confusion

The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 2), by Neal Stephenson, William Heinemann, 2004, 815pp.

This continues the ripping pace of Quicksilver.

Here, though she would never show it, Eliza felt a sudden upwelling of affection for Rossignol. In a world full of men who only wanted to take her to bed, it was somehow comforting to know that there was one who, given the opportunity, would prefer to read through a big pile of stolen correspondence.

I found myself devouring sections of this book, then flipping back several pages and reading them again. And again. The first such was the conversation (pp, 135 et seq.) where King Louis cuts in on Eliza's dancing and she actually faints, then trades double-edged words.

In this sequel I also reread the excellent deaths of some of the bad guys from the first book. Very satisfying indeed.

The exciting pirate attack on the silver-pig boat was very Dumas-worthy. I fancy Patrick O'Brian fans would like it. While reading, I formulated something about suspense. Suspense and predictability equals sitcom equals pain. But suspense plus unpredictability is pleasure: omigod, what will happen when those two meet?

There continues to be a strong economic theme that The Economist would love: trade equals wealth. Great minds are struggling with the idea of paper money. And there are Armenian businessmen, too.

My interest slackened ever so slightly in the second half, when Jack's adventures moved him to India (big phosphorous-brewing scene), and then even to Japan and Mexico. Plus anachronisms like the yo-yo do not add much. The twists at the end partially redeem the glut of travel adventure, and the book ends with Jack staring at Isaac Newton, so perhaps that savant will have more to say in the final volume, to which I look forward with relish.