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Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson is a difficult book to briefly summarize. Set during the Baroque Era of Europe, when scientific and mathematical advancements were making quantum leaps and huge historical events materialized almost overnight, Quicksilver contains three main protagonists. The first is Daniel Waterhouse, a contemporary of Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, who is drawn into scientific and historical controversy of the time. Then there is Jack Shaftoe, King of the Vagabonds, leading swashbuckling adventures in search of his fortune. Finally there is Eliza, a harem girl that Jack saves and who infiltrates the court of Louis XIV. Neal Stephenson has been characterized as a cyber-punk author, and he delights in the explorations and ramifications of science, technology, and history. The Seattle Times says of Quicksilver, "Because of his subject matter, Stephenson won't lose his usual science-lovers. He'll pick up some history buffs as well, and his quirky characters, zestful pace and wrily humorous tone will charm almost everyone else."