The System of the World by Neal Stephenson, Volume 3 of The Baroque Cycle,  A Review

I cannot believe I finished The Baroque Cycle! It is a major undertaking and it seemed at first as if I would never complete it.  Now that I have and now that I see the story as a whole I am just amazed by Neal Stephenson’s creativity and his ability to tie so much together making this unique and unpredictable story. Stephenson is quite long winded. What I mean is that he does not leave out a single detail. While I personally love this kind of writing, this slow but incredibly insightful journey of a tale, many would probably become bored or lose interest so I wanted to point this out. I recommend this series to anyone who loves historical fiction with a fantastical flair and a sometimes dry but witty and clever sense of humor.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, A Review

This final book in the Wolf Hall Trilogy opens with a vivid repeat of Anne Boleyn’s death and what happens immediately after her beheading. What is said and what is done and how the body is treated. The attention to these details leaves me wondering if Thomas Cromwell will forever be haunted by what has come to pass by the very people he personally placed on the chopping block.

Mantel paints a vivid picture with her words. Her writing is stunning and, honestly, it’s so intense that the images, dialogues and scenes she creates are almost hard to read. This work is very haunting and graphic in her portrayal of what could possibly be a small amount of guilt that Thomas Cromwell feels. Although, it seems to me to be an impossible emotion for him.

I cannot reccomend this series enough. I will admit the pacing is very slow, these are not books to be rushed through. But Mantel kept my interest piqued throughout and there was not a boring moment.

Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, A Review

When Anne Boleyn becomes a target of demise, Thomas Cromwell uses the opportunity for revenge that has been long in the waiting. This whole sequel felt like a spider web being spun, tighter and tighter, closing in on the Boleyn’s. As a reader who does not already know Thomas Cromwell’s whole story, I’m wondering if this web is closing in on him, as well? I feel like he is surrounded by shadows and is on the cusp of complete darkness.

This is an incredible tale and it is made more incredible by the way Mantel relates this story. There are parts that literally made me shiver and feel chills, particularly towards the end. And, I am not a person that takes fright easily so I know its these words that have been placed together so thoughtfully and wryly that I am left shaking!

I highly recommend this series for fans of historical fiction!! Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, A Review

This book begins in the year 1500. Thomas Cromwell was a young boy, however, Cromwell does not know his age or his birthday and never will know it exactly. In this trivial beginning, Thomas Cromwell is being beaten practically to death by his father Walter, a blacksmith. This sets off a tumultuous life for him in the following pages. He is taken in by his sister and her husband and then given money to just leave town and get scarce. He does.

He does everything, soldiering to marketing cloth, until the reader finds him in the year 1527, best guess is age 35. He is working for a man he loves dearly, the Cardinal, the Archbishop of York. He is well settled, taking care of his sisters and his own wife and children. However, things go wrong. Thomas Cromwell loses what is most important to him and yet only gains popularity in the eyes of king Henry VIII. And what follows, in this book and the next, is how he really makes history.

Hilary Mantel is a brilliant writer. However, I can see where people are coming from when they say they have a hard time reading her books. This is a reread for me and I had forgotten how necessary it was to really get into the rhythm of her writing style. I can make a few allusions here, it’s like a dance or like art etc. But really, it’s her gorgeous unique style that grabs me and convinces me that I couldn’t be doing anything more hardcore than reading historical fiction.

Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!!

The Confusion,  Vol. 2 of The Baroque Cycle,  by Neal Stephenson, A Review

The continuation of Jack, Eliza and Daniel’s tales is a masterpiece.  This story runs through the last ten years of the 17th century and on into about the first five years of the 18th century.   Every topic that defines this time period is covered in this Volume and covered with beautiful detail. There are several parts of this book that I completely breezed through because it was so incredibly exciting, particularly with Jack. However, much of this Volume is a slow read. I read slowly to be sure to pick up every detail and to simply enjoy Stephenson’s amazing writing style.

I highly recommend this series! Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!

Odalisque by Neal Stephenson, Volume 1 of The Baroque Cycle, Part 3, A Review

This is the final book in Volume 1 of The Baroque Cycle and I am very pleased to say that Stephenson wraps things up very nicely while still leaving me wondering what happens further on.

This book contains both the evolving stories of Daniel Waterhouse and Eliza during the tumultuous 1680’s. Charles II has died and there is a new king of England, however, of course, things are not that simple. A new word is born, Revolution, or at least, given new meaning. Not only a “revolving around” but now a Revolution as we commonly know the word today, as an “uprising”. And Daniel and Eliza, although both in completely different parts of Europe, are quite in the middle of everything.

Neal Stephenson writes so clearly about these sophisticated political situations and, also, the ideas of Natural Philosophy at the time, that I have no problem understanding and following along. One thing I would like to mention that this first Volume has taught me, and that is that humanity in the late 17th century could be just as polite, nice, charming, vicious and vile as it is today.

There is so much quality to match the quantity of this massive Volume, so if the sheer size of the books of The Baroque Cycle scare you, I can assure you it is more than worth your time.

I highly recommend this! Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!

King of the Vagabonds (Vol. 1 of The Baroque Cycle, part 2) by Neal Stephenson

Once again, the book begins with hangings, although this is a little more involved. Jack Shaftoe is the unlikely hero of this tale which starts at the start, with his brothers. Eventually, Jack is on his own but is well-known as “half-cocked Jack”, the King of Vagabonds. This name does have an explanation that supports it, however, I am not going to go into that. You will just have to make an educated guess!

Jack is what is called, “The Devil’s Poor”, as opposed to, “God’s Poor”. “Devil’s Poor ” are the kind of poor that are not worth helping. However, Jack finds ways to help himself (even if its confused and sometimes backfires). His view on life and this world, Europe in the late 17th century, is often callous but there is real sincerity that just cannot help but shine through.

Jack has an involvement with a beautiful woman, Eliza, whom also narrates her own story throughout the book. It is Jack’s care for her, which he is really bad at showing, but it proves his inner goodness. This story created so many emotions in me. I honestly cannot explain it exactly without giving away what happens. All anybody really needs to know is that The Baroque Cycle is incredible. The story leaps off the pages and into my heart…. I’m just going to say, I’m feeling some feelings, ya’ll.

This is a must read! Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!!

Quicksilver (Part One) by Neal Stephenson, A Review

This is part one of Volume One, entitled Quicksilver, of The Baroque Cycle. This was fascinating. There are not many other works that so truly fit in the Historical Fiction category that I have found to be so utterly fascinating. It’s as if Neal Stephenson somehow traveled through time to the mid to late 17th century and came back to generously tell us about this exciting, thrilling, disturbing and even sometimes humorous time period.

One of my favourite aspects to this book was sharing the joy and often, dissatisfaction, that comes with discovery. After all, what a time period to be alive in. This story is mainly told from the perspective of Daniel Waterhouse who happens to be a friend of Isaac Newton, a natural philosopher and also a member of The Royal Society of London. However, currently Daniel is remembering all of this while boarding on a ship trying to make it’s way out of the Massachusetts Bay and back to England 30 years later. This may sound confusing, it’s not, its awesome, trust me! There are even pirate fights!

Long story short, if you love learning about history and what discoveries led to our current way of life, you have to read this series. Also, you should read it because Neal Stephenson shows off his amazing skills in conveying the feeling of this insane time period in his writing.

I highly recommend this! Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!!