The first book in the series, Quicksilver, had some pacing problems, and over-stretched itself a bit with its myriad characters. This book corrects all the shortcomings of the first book. This is one of those books where I couldn’t wait to get home from work to pick it up and read some more. In fact, I’m writing this just minutes after finishing the last page of the book at 4:30am after reading for last 3 hours. This book is amazing!!
Neal Stephenson focusses on Jack Shaftoe and Eliza in parallel story lines that intersect and weave around one another in interesting ways. Major characters from the last book like Newton, Daniel Waterhouse and Leibniz show up but they end up being cursory characters—and it’s for the best—Eliza and Jack are clearly the most interesting characters. Jack’s exploits are more visceral than Eliza’s and so I tended to like his chapters better, but I also don’t want to downplay Eliza’s political plots, schemes and manipulations. She is a truly great character.
If there’s one downside to this book it is that you have to wade
through the slightly too long Quicksilver before starting this
book—it does not stand on its own at all. But given the strength of
this book, I whole heartedly recommend Quicksilver just to get the
background needed for
The Confusion”. I can’t wait for the final
book in the trilogy,The System of the World”, to come out.