The Confusion and The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson

These are, respectively, the second and third books in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, and they completely lived up to the hype I gave the first book. Brilliant, hilarious, touching, inventive, ingenious - Stephenson is a literary god in my view. How he managed to get all that research done, make it into a comprehensible narrative, and then describe complex mathematical and scientific theories lucidly, is completely beyond me.

The scientific parts of the story are well-balanced by the romantic plot, and neither overshadows the other. I often find that when reading a book that has two or more storylines, I look forward to one more than the other. Not so with this series. Each story is so well told, well thought out, and perfectly executed that I enjoyed each part as much as the previous bits. The fact that the entire series is nearly 3,000 pages long should deter no one from reading it; you hardly notice the length at all, and when it is over, you'll wish he'd written yet more.


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