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In the year 1689, a cabal of Barbary galley slaves -- including one Jack Shaftoe, aka King of the Vagabonds, aka Half-Cocked Jack -- devises a daring plan to win freedom and fortune. A great adventure ensues -- a perilous race for an enormous prize of silver ... nay, gold ... nay, legendary gold.
In Europe, the exquisite and resourceful Eliza, Countess de la Zeur, is stripped of her immense personal fortune by France's most dashing privateer. Penniless and at risk from those who desire either her or her head (or both), she is caught up in a web of international intrigue, even as she desperately seeks the return of her most precious possession.
Meanwhile, Newton and Leibniz continue to propound their grand theories as their infamous rivalry intensifies, stubborn alchemy does battle with the natural sciences, dastardly plots are set in motion ... and Daniel Waterhouse seeks passage to the Massachusetts colony in hopes of escaping the madness into which his world has descended.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
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Neal Stephenson is the bestselling author of the novels Reamde, Anathem, The System of the World, The Confusion, Quicksilver, Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac, and the groundbreaking nonfiction work In the Beginning . . . Was the Command Line. He lives in Seattle, Washington.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* This guy really likes to write long books. Cyptonomicon, his 1999 epic, was roughly the same length as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Quicksilver (2003), the first volume of his Baroque Cycle, was well over 900 pages, and this second installment is in the same ballpark. It picks up the story in 1689. Jack Shaftoe, self-proclaimed king of the vagabonds, is a galley slave, but that's soon going to change: he and nine of his fellow slaves engineer an escape. Their plan, to steal a cache of Spanish silver, turns out better (and also worse) than they could have imagined. Meanwhile, Eliza, a notorious spy whom Jack once rescued from a Turkish harem, is trying to get to London with her newborn baby. Set during one of history's most exciting times, from 1600 to 1750, this series brilliantly captures the intellectual excitement and cultural revolution of the era. With real-life supporting characters such as Isaac Newton and Wilhelm Leibnitz, the series blends fact and fiction so cleverly that it is virtually impossible to separate one from the other. Stephenson is a graceful writer, never getting bogged down in detail, keeping the story moving, dazzling us with his technique. The concluding volume of the trilogy is scheduled to appear in October 2004, and it's fair to say anyone who reads this one will spend the intervening months waiting with breathless anticipation. David Pitt
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