Baroque Cycle Books

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Author Neal Stephenson‘s “Baroque Cycle” has quite a big cast of characters and is set during the later part of the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth centuries in Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The work is treated more like historical fiction, but Stephenson feels it is more like science fiction due to themes that deal with technology and science.

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Order of Baroque Cycle Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Quicksilver (By: Neal Stephenson) 2003 Description / Buy
2 The Confusion ( By: Neal Stephenson) 2004 Description / Buy
3 The System of the World ( By: Neal Stephenson) 2004 Description / Buy
Print: Print PDF

The series came about while Neal was finishing his “Cryptonomicon” series. During this time, he had conversations with some friends that had to deal with Leibniz and Newton, who were at war with one another for the majority of their careers. The “Baroque Cycle” series is a prequel series to the “Cryptonomicon” series.

The series was published in three installments, that were released in the years 2003 and 2004. The books, although published in three installments, are divided into eight books. From a publishing standpoint it made sense to publish it in three books, says Stephenson. The first and final books each have three books in them, while book two has only two books in it.


“Quicksilver”, the first novel won an Arthur C. Clarke award. “The Confusion” and “The System of the World” both won Locus Awards


For those readers looking to get into the “Baroque Cycle” series by Neal Stephenson, this section will help with that. It will go over the novels “Quicksilver”, “The Confusion”, and “The System of the World”.

Quicksilver: This is the first novel in the “Baroque Cycle” series and was released in the year 2003. “Half-Cocked Jack” Shaftoe was a street urchin in London that became a swashbuckler adventurer; he is known as the King of the Vagabonds. He risks his limb and life for both love and treasure, all the while, he goes mad from pox.

Eliza, who Jack rescued from a harem in Turkey, she became a spy, a pawn for the royals, and confidante. All of this to help Europe reinvent itself through finance’s new power.

The Confusion: This is the second novel in the “Baroque Cycle” series and was released in the year 2004. The year is 1689. While in Europe, Eliza (who is Countess de la Zeur) gets her vast wealth taken away by a very dashing privateer from France. She is penniless and becomes at risk by those that either want her body or her head, not to mention those that want both. It gets her caught up in a huge plot of international intrigue, all while she tries to get her most prized possession back.

Newton and Leibniz are still working on their grand theories, as their legendary rivalry gets even more intense. Alchemy fights with some of the natural sciences, and evil plots are set into motion. Daniel Waterhouse is looking to get to Massachusetts colony, so that he can get away from the chaos and madness that his world has become.

The System of the World: This is the third novel in the “Baroque Cycle” series and was released in the year 2004. Set in the eighteenth century. Daniel is trying to help repair the relationship of Leibniz and Newton. He is hesitant to leave his family in the city of Boston, he gets to England. While there, he almost gets killed by an Infernal Device.

He has not been back to this war torn country in almost twenty years now, and finds that many things have in fact changed. That being said, there is an awful revolution that brews underneath the surface of what looked to be a civilized society.

Queen Anne lies on her deathbed, Tories and Whigs jockey for a higher political position. Waterhouse and Newton are determined to find out who it is that is trying to murder off only certain scientists. They also try to figure out the riddle left behind with King Solomon’s gold, or at least the legend of the mythical cache of the precious metal that is supposed to have some miraculous power in it.


The “The Broken Earth” series by N. K. Jemisin is another great read. The first two novels in this speculative fiction series won back to back Hugo Awards for Best Novel in both 2016 and 2017. Every few hundred years, inhabitants of the only super continent on a planet endure the “Fifth Season”, which is climate change on a catastrophic scale.

Be sure to check out “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” series by Cixin Liu. This science fiction series was originally published in China, and has won both Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel.

What Is The Next Book in The Baroque Cycle Series?

There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Baroque Cycle Series. The newest book is The System of the World and was released on September, 21st 2004.

1 thought on “Baroque Cycle”

  1. This was my introduction to Neal Stephenson as a writer, but it won’t be my last time reading him. Quicksilver was my first read and it is a refreshing take on history that caused me to learn things, laugh and be completed engulfed in the story. Not an easy thing to do. The Baroque Cycle is well worth checking out.

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