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    Review of THE CONFUSION by Neal Stephenson (see his website)

    Volume Two of the Baroque Cycle

    William Morrow, April 2004

    Review by Jennifer Vilches

    The pace picks up considerably in this continuation of the intertwined stories of Jack Shaftoe, Daniel Waterhouse, and Eliza, Countess de la Zeur. The plot set in motion in Quicksilver continues to twist into fiendishly complex patterns. Piracy and quests, political and financial intrigue, and the evolution of scientific thought; you'll find all of this and more in the hefty second volume of the Baroque Cycle. Read QUICKSILVER first in order to not be confused by The Confusion. (See our review of QUICKSILVER).

    Jack Shaftoe, now a galley slave in Algiers, joins a conspiracy to pirate a Spanish treasure and escape slavery. He and nine oar-mates embark on their adventure burdened with Jack's usual mix of good and bad luck. Sea battles, land battles and general havoc follow the cabal of misfits across oceans and continents.

    Daniel has a smaller role in this volume, but the role of Jack's more socially integrated brother Bob waxes into a remarkable war-filled journey to free his enslaved love, Abigail. Eliza, in the meantime, has lost her fortune and her firstborn son and must tread carefully to keep her head amid the perils of the French court. Eliza works to recover her son and wreak havoc on the financial markets of Europe.

    Jack's adventures from South America to Japan and Eliza's maneuverings in Europe draw you along at breathtaking speed with enough momentum to propel you through the 800+ pages. The pace rarely falters and Stephenson continues to make even the secondary characters interesting. He also maintains the obvious attention to research and detail found in Quicksilver. The Confusion neatly sets the scene for the third and final book as divergent plots start to converge, and I can't wait to see where Stephenson will take us next.

    See more reviews of novels by Neal Stephenson.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/24/04

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