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Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The Confusion

Categories: [ Books ]

ISBN: 9780099410690

© Amazon.fr

Second volume of The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, following Quicksilver. Divided into two books, Bonanza and Juncto, the volume alternate between one and the other to place the narration in chronological order.

Bonanza

1689. Jack has lost his memory due to syphillitis, but slowly wakes up in Algiers as a galley slave. With some companions they form a Cabal, and plan to rob silver from a spanish ship with the help of their owner who would get a share of it. The theft succeeds, but instead of silver they find gold. They are chased by the Duke of Arcachon who expected to steal this gold for himself (through his privateers). In Cairo, Jack and his companions finally confront the Duke and Jack, knowing the the same man had enslaved Eliza years before, cuts his head off and sents it back to France. The Cabal then flees to India, where Jack stays for some years and meets Enoch Root again. The Cabal uses part of the gold to build a ship, with which they carry wootz steel, silk and spices to Japan, where they exchange it against quicksilver. They then cross the Pacific Ocean toward New Spain where they sell the quicksilver to various silver mines. While a part of the Cabal remains on the ship, sell more quicksilver to silver mines in Peru and cross the Cape Horn, Jack and other members of the Cabal walk through Mexico (and are inbetween arrested by the Inquisition, but manage to get released). They rejoin the crew of the ship, and, since Jack received a letter from Eliza asking him to join her in Qwghlm. The letter was however a forgery, and Jack is made prisoner by the son of the late Duke of Arcachon who wants revenge for his father's death and also wants to recover the gold stolen thirteen years earlier from the spanish ship. Jack also learns he was betrayed by one of his companion, who was himself let to believe that his family suffered a lot because of Jack. The gold is said to come from the mines of King Solomon and have special alchemical properties. Jack claims it was all used for building the ship. D'Arcachon lets the remaining members of the Cabal (several died or quit over the past years) leave with their ship, only to notice that the hull of the ship, under the waterline, is plated with gold. Jack is eventually taken back to France.

Juncto

1689. Eliza's wealth has been stolen by Jean Bart the privateer in the name of the King of France Louis XIV. Eliza knows she has to accept this if she wants to stay away from prison, and she soon starts doing business as usual. She is also invited by the Duke of Arcachon, and eventually recognizes him, from the smell of rotten fish, that he is the one who made her a slave when she was young. She wants to poison him at his birthday party, but on that day, she learns that the Duke had been killed in Cairo by Jack. She is then forced to marry the Duke's son to protect herself. When von Hackelheber learns that the Solomon gold has been stolen by Jack, he believes that Eliza is also behind it, and he kidnaps her son. For revenge, Eliza organizes a transfer of fund from Lyon to Hackelheber's offices in London. Thanks to the help of her friend Jean Bart, Hackelheber's silver is stolen, and the banker is ruined. Eliza also helps Bob Shaftoe, Jack's brother and soldier in the English army, to save the love of his life who is a slave owned by an English lord. Bob kills the lord during a battle, and later goes and frees her, marrying her on the spot. Meanwhile, Daniel Waterhouse manages to convince Newton to become the new head of the Royal Mint. In the end. Jack has arrived in France and meets with Louis XIV who orders him to go back to England and sabotage the Royal Mint to prevent England to become a strong power again. In the same meeting, Jack also meets Eliza, who quickly tells hime they must not see each other again if they want to stay alive. Jack then goes back to London. Also, on her way back from the Rhine in the previous book, Eliza had taken under her protection a German heiress and her daughter Caroline. After the death of the mother, Eliza placed the daughter in the care of Leibniz. Caroline is pressented to become the next queen of England.

[ Posted on October 19th, 2010 at 22:44 | 1 comment | ]

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