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The Confusion: Volume Two of The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
The Confusion is the second book (Volume 1: Quicksilver) of the Baroque cycle trilogy by Neal Stephenson. It begins in 1689 with Jack Shaftoe, the King of the Vagabonds, as a Barbary galley slave. He engineers an escape with other galley slaves, which sets them on a seafaring adventure around the globe. Eliza, now the Countess de la Zeur and a mother of a newborn son, is deeply entrenched in both the palace intrigues of the French king and the burgeoning financial markets of Europe. Newton and Leibniz intensify their rivalry with their new scientific theories. Science, history, finance, adventure in exotic locales, dastardly deeds and acts of heroism fill The Confusion with abundant plot and interesting tangents, just what you'd expect from Neal Stephenson. The Portland Oregonian says, "Are comparisons with Tolkien too lofty? Perhaps, although the level of detail, the memorable characters and the epic adventure with -- dare we say it? -- magic at its core make these books classics of the imagination for our oh-so-busy time."