Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


talked about Neal Stephenson today. Which reminded me I wanted to post about the Baroque Cycle, which I just finished over the weekend. Here is my one word assessment of it, which is mostly influenced by The System of the World: feh. However, that’s being quite harsh, so I think I should expand a bit.

First of all, Stephenson has really and truly shown that he’s the master of crappy endings, and the entire third book is the crappy ending in this case. I enjoyed the first two books quite a bit, but the third was just an and arduous endeavor that I only finished to be a completist. Almost nothing happened in this book, and what did happened took way too many pages to describe. I honestly think this could have been a 100 page appendix at the end of The Confusion and have been less of a pain to read, and have been just as pathetic of an ending.

That being said, I will add that when I step back and thing of the series as a whole, I find it more enjoyable, and not quite as worthy of the feh assignment. And I also realize the crucial distinction between the third book and the previous two – the fact that Daniel Waterhouse was the main character for the entire book. Nothing against him, he’s a fairly interesting character, but by his very nature he lacks the excitement that Jack Shaftoe brought to the previous two volumes. In fact, one of the most interesting parts of the third book (to me) was the short bit in the middle where Jack was the temporary main character.

Anyway, I really can’t recommend this series. The concept behind it is interesting, I have to admit, but in the end the execution just fails. Maybe as time goes by the bad taste the third book left in my mouth will mellow and I will think of the series a bit more warmly, but currently I am quite disappointed.

posted by neil at 2:56 pm
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