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Στην Ευρώπη του δέκατου έβδομου αιώνα σ' έναν κόσμο που κλυδωνίζεται από τις θρησκευτικές έριδες τις πολιτικές φιλοδοξίες και τις κατακτητικές βλέψεις των ηγετών του κάποιοι επιμένουν να μάχονται το χάος με τη λογική Άλλοι πάλι βυθίζονται στην ακαταμάχητη γοητεία του υδράργυρου αυτής της μυστηριώδους ουσίας που κρύβει το κλειδί της ΔημιουργίαςΟ Ντάνιελ Γουοτερχάουζ γόνος μιας οικογένειας περιφρονημένων Πουριτανών θαρραλέος στοχαστής με κρυφό ενδιαφέρον για τη Φυσική Φιλοσοφία «συνομιλεί» με τις διάνοιες της εποχής τουΣε μια αφήγηση ποταμός που σαρώνει ηπείρους και δεκαετίες η ιστορία του Ντάνιελ διασταυρώνεται με αυτήν του «Κουτσοψώλη Τζακ» Σάφτοου του φτωχο διάβολου τυχοδιώκτη που έγινε ο βασιλιάς των Βαγαπόντηδων και της δαιμόνιας Ελάιζα της γυναίκας που έσωσε ο Τζακ από ένα τουρκικό χαρέμι για να γίνει κατάσκοπος και πιόνι βασιλιάδων στο κυνήγι της δύναμης της εξουσίας και του χρήματοςΙστορία περιπέτεια επιστήμη αλχημεία πίστη και δογματισμός έρωτας τρέλα πόλεμος και θάνατος συνθέτουν ένα μνημειώδες λογοτεχνικό έργο που παρασύρει στη δράση προσωπικότητες όπως ο Νεύτων ο Λάιμπνιτς ο Χουκ ο Πέπις ο Βενιαμίν Φραγκλίνος ο Γουίλιαμ της Οράγγης και ο Λουδοβίκος o ΙΔ΄Η επική αφήγηση που εισάγει ο Στίβενσον με τον Υδράργυρο συνεχίζεται στους επόμενους τόμους του Κύκλου Μπαρόκ Η σύγχυση και Το σύστημα του κόσμου


10 thoughts on “uicksilver

  1. says:

    This book is just too vast to give justice to it in the few lines of this review that I might come up with nowIf you are ready to read this here are some suggestions1 Start with Cryptonomicon first You don't need to read this first but it will help you get used to Stephenson's style and you'll appreciate uicksilver better having done so2 Before reading uicksilver spend some time brushing up on some basic English history Did you know that London burned? Do you know what the Monmouth Rebellion was and the Bloody Assizes that followed? Do you know about the interregnum? Do you know that William III deposed James II in a coup? It would be nice if a timeline could be provided that summarizes the main points of English history that serve as context for this book I admit I did not know enough myself of the history involved to get full appreciation of the book on my first reading so now I'll have to read it again some time after doing some historical readingsPerhaps read the wikipedia page on the diary of Samuel Pepys if not the diary itself Although he's really just a minor figure in this novel his diary covers many of the same events that you'll encounter in uicksilver3 Be prepared to deal with long digressions and elaborate descriptions Instead of seeing them as tedious look for the humor Stephenson inevitably tries to put some humor into these and although it's often very dry it's uite amusing when you see how he's looking askance at the goings on of the times and persons4 Beyond the history take care to understand the geography5 Take some time to consider the cryptography used in the novel When you understand just how a letter within a letter can be written you'll appreciate of Stephenson's particular genius6 Even though this is hardly a science fiction novel it does deal largely with scientists in the Royal Society Be prepared then for descriptions of events seen through the eyes of a trained scientific observer Something as simple as the motion of a boat's mast can be used scientifically to provide information about how the boat is loaded as you'll find in the novel Again these portions of the book are trademarks of Stephenson's ingenuity and I enjoyed them immensely7 Be patient This is a long book and not an easy read If you can keep track of the main characters you can actually put it away for a time and return to it later to resume reading I actually started this book some time ago reading it only when I had uninterrupted opportunities to digest the novel I read other lighter works in the interim to keep me occupied and entertainedIn fact after starting this book I actually began work on a Master's degree and completed the Master's degree faster than completing the book That was perhaps a bit too slow but also tells about how busy I was instead of describing the nature of the book8 Revel in the richness of this book It is indeed a masterpiece and you can certainly gain with each reread This type of book is indeed rare and its peculiar idiosyncrasies just make it distinctive in its majesty not lessening its achievement in any way


  2. says:

    The following is an excerpt from the journal of Neal StephensonAfter the success of Cryptonomicon I’m having some problems narrowing down my next project The issue is that I have far too many ideas and I can’t decide which plot to use for my next bookI know that I want do something set during the late 17th century in Europe It was an amazing time with huge changes in politics culture commerce and science but there was just so much going on that I can’t seem to make up my mind and pick one or two concepts for the book Here are some of the top ideas I’m mulling over• The soldier and scientist dynamic between Waterhouse and Shaftoe worked so well in Cryptonomicon that I’d like to do something similar here Perhaps have characters who are the ancestors of Lawrence Waterhouse and Bobby Shaftoe? • This would be during the early period of the Royal Society when men like Isaac Newton Robert Hooke Gottfried Leibniz and many others were essentially creating modern science and battling among themselves Putting an ancestor of Waterhouse in among them seems like a natural fit• I’m also fascinated by all the religious upheaval in England following Cromwell’s death through The Glorious Revolution Having a character with a Puritan upbringing caught up in these events would be interesting Maybe that’s the place to bring a Waterhouse into it?• But I’m eually interested by all that was happening in commerce during this time Our modern economic systems were being developed and even the very nature of money itself was being redefined I’d very much like to do a plot that involved that• However I’m also intrigued by all the political machinations and palace intrigue that took place across all of Europe• If I do something with the political side then I’ll almost certainly need to set something among all the wars and conflicts that took place That might be a natural place to use a Shaftoe character• I’d really like to dig into the details of how dirty smelly nasty and short life was to most people back then• It might be original to get away from the known events and famous people of the time and show a viewpoint from someone common like a vagabond Maybe this should be a Shaftoe character• Thinking about vagabonds it’d be interesting to do a modern take of a picaresue novel with a rogue ish hero getting into adventures and insulting the people of uality This would definitely be a great Shaftoe character• I’d also like to explore the role of women in this society Maybe have some kind of very smart female character who has to use her charm and brains to navigate a variety of social and political challenges? Could I tie that in with the money thing?• Doing some kind of story about spies would be really cool If I write about spies I could use some of the cryptography stuff I brought into the last book again• Pirates I definitely need to do something with pirates• Slavery I should also work in some stuff about slavery• I’d also like to use the Enoch Root character again That’d really establish him as an ageless stranger who is kind of pushing events in certain directions just like he did in Cryptonomicon Plus that gives it a bit of a sci fi element so I’ll be eligible for all the Locus and Hugo type awards• On top of everything else I’m dying to play with the format a little Maybe do some chapters like a stage play from the era? Or tell a section via a series of letters? If I use letters to tell the story it’d be another chance to work in the code stuffThere are too many possibilities I don’t know how I’ll ever Wait I just had a crazy thought I shouldn’t be trying to NARROW the focus I should EXPAND the focus Throw all of these ideas and even into one giant stew potNo that’s insane It’d be too complex and convoluted How could readers keep everything straight? Just trying to keep track of the various royal families alone would drive most people mad I guess if I used just two or three main characters but then had them shift into a variety of roles??? Waterhouse as a Puritan a scientist and a political player in England? Shaftoe as a soldier a vagabond and a syphilis sufferer? Maybe add another Shaftoe if one is going to have syphilis Make the woman a spy an anti slavery advocate and a natural genius with money? Could it work? Have them all bounce against all the people and events of the time? How could I make that coherent? And it’d have to be huge Probably at least three books with 800 to 900 pages a book Yes Yes I can make it work I am just that damn good Those who go along with it will marvel at my genius Those who can’t follow along will be too exhausted to complain It’s brilliant Those fools won’t know what hit themAnd I will call it The Baroue Cycle BWAH HA HA HA HA HA Yes I Neal Stephenson like to write evil laughter into my journal while I’m plotting my booksKemper’s Random Comments on uicksilver• Wikipedia is your friend while reading this book• Jack Shaftoe is not called ‘Half Cocked Jack’ just due to his tendency to act without thinking shudder • Isaac Newton should not have been allowed to handle needles• Considering the way that various dogs cats horses rats frogs and ostriches are treated this story is obviously set long before the ASPCA or PETA existed• Stephenson has a lot of fun allowing his characters to make history Daniel Waterhouse casually comes up with the name New York when others are debating what to call New Amsterdam after it changes hands Eliza invents the word ‘sabotage’ Young Jack and his brother Bob create modern advertising and an early form of infomercial while making up small plays to advertise for their service helping condemned men hang faster and suffer less by dangling from their legs•Venice gondoliers suffered from ‘canal rage’ caused by the hectic fast paced modern lifestyle they lived in• After reading of the various ‘medical treatments’ used in here you will hug your doctor the next time you go in for a check up and you will also feel the urge to call your dentist for a cleaning• Jack considers it uite an accomplishment to have lived to the ripe old age of 20 and tells 19 year old Eliza that she’s got a good ten or twenty years left to her• European royal families were kind of gross• I loved that Stephenson brings back his fictional country of wghlm a godforsaken island under British rule where ice storms in June are common and the English cut down all the trees• Who knew that you could outwit pirates with math?• The scenes of trying to buy something are always hilarious because of all the haggling not over the prices but over what type of coins will be accepted because most are worthless due to the lack of reliable currency• Why did I find it so funny that the English characters call syphilis the ‘French Pox’ and the French characters call it the ‘English Pox’?


  3. says:

    4040It's the Moby Dick uestionThe plot's about an angry guy chasing a whale There's not a lot of variation on this theme he catches it or he doesn't Maybe he catches it and wishes that he didn't maybe he doesn't and regrets that he failed But this basic plot a straightforward uest for revenge is such thin gruel that you'd have to be on the lower end of the intellectual spectrum to fail to realize that the book's about something a little bit than hunting a big fishEven so there's no guarantee that you're going to tolerate 20 pages about rope At the end of the digression you're either going to respond in one of two ways You might be of the sort to go Hmm that was some fascinating rope discourse I had no idea that rope could be used in such multifaceted ways and having read that I am now a different and slightly rounded person Then again you could respond with a JESUS FUCKING CHRIST enough with the stupid rope already For fuck's sake where's that son of a bitch whale? The white sea mammal is the TITLE of the book and I'm reading about some shitty rope? Christ I need some vodkaYou should know what sort of reader you are before picking this book up because The Baroue Cycle is about 3000 pages long and Neal Stephenson digresses like an ADHD kid on speed Melville's focus is a goddamn space laser in comparison uicksilver has economics mining mathematics piracy slavery early Puritan philosophy and I forget what elseIt is genius pure and simpleThis is one of the first great works of the 21st century and I can't recommend it highly enough But odds are great that you'll hate it mightily if your concern is the destination instead of how you get there


  4. says:

    I think it's official I hate Neil Stephenson's books I hated his so called cyberpunk classic Snow Crash a fact that sets me apart from most of the nerdegalian and I really hated uicksilveruicksilver is kind of hard to classify if you in fact insist on classifying it It's kind of historical fiction in that it's set in the 17th and 18th century and follows the rise of empiricism and science It features real people from that period like Isaac Newton Gotfried Leibniz Robert Boyle Robert Hook King Louis XIV and others But the fiction part of historical fiction comes into play because the main characters an aspiring natural philosopher read scientist named Daniel Waterhouse a former concubine turned finance tycoon named Eliza and a charming vagabond named Jack Shaftoe never really existed and were fabricated for the sake of the book which traces the activities of these three main characters as they live through the eraThe main problem I have with uicksilver was that it was largely plotless I kept waiting for something to happen or some plot to coalesce out of the noise but it didn't The characters are really just there to give Stephenson an excuse to carry on about the development of science as a discipline the ephemeral nature of money and pirates sometimes all three in the same passage There's no narrative just a seemingly endless burbling of scenes the damn thing is nearly 1000 pages long and I READ the paper version of this one I actually kind of liked the some of the parts with struggling scientist Daniel Waterhouse the best because the history of science interests me but even these moments of engagement were covered up by obscure details and diversions that were like overgrown plants in a sprawling gardenIn fact the whole book is bloated with details about experiments geneologies dissertations on stock markets battles family histories and other verbal flotsam that it made it downright hard to read the book and impossible to enjoy I get the impression that Stephenson gorged himself on research for the book and then decided to use it all every last syllable no matter what hellacious effect it has on the narrative or the goal of actually telling an interesting story uicksilver may be entertaining than a high school textbook on the same topics but only marginallyAnd the thing is that it's only the first THIRD of a trilogy plus a tie in to Stpehnons's book Cryptonomicon What's worse is that I went ahead and picked up the other books in hardback though I did so at a thrift store and only set myself back a total of like three bucks I think I'm just gonna eat that cost and not even think about picking them up given how much I disliked uicksilver Life is too short


  5. says:

    I received an unexpected visit yesterday evening from a Mr Nosnehpets who told me he was a time traveller and writer from the early 25th century He had just published a historical novel and wondered if I would do him the service of reviewing itWhy me? I asked bemusedWell replied my visitor with an insinuating smile You appear in it than once You don't know it yet but you're one of your period's major authorsI snatched the book Mercury from his hands and it was even as he said There was hardly a chapter where I didn't turn up Often I would speak for paragraphs at a timeYou have cast me in an overly flattering light I protested I think you'll find that uotation actually comes from Oscar Wilde And this one is due to Winston ChurchillDetails details said Nosnehpets impatiently Only the worst kind of wikipede is going to object Try and see the big pictureI never came close to stopping the invasion of Ira I said faintly as I continued to leaf through it I went to a demonstration in Washington that's all And I never had a torrid affair with Catherine Zeta Jones I know we were both brought up in Wales butNosnehpets sighed I suppose you're going to tell me you didn't discover the Higgs particle either? he asked with an unpleasantly ironic inflection Even though you do admit that you were resident in Geneva in 2011 and you worked for years with Stephen Hawking?I live in Geneva I agreed reluctantly And in Cambridge my office was on the other side of the road from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics But to jump from that toYou inspired them snapped Nosnehpets Stop nitpicking You and Angelina were the real source of all the ideas If I've exaggerated a little it was only for dramatic effectHe looked hurriedly at his wrist I suddenly noticed that what I had taken for a tattoo was actually a high resolution display projected directly onto his skinI'm sorry he said The portal will be closing in a minute But please before I leave just answer me one uestion Why did you do it? Why did you destroy the whole world of classical literature? And why that ridiculous pseudonym? I've tried my best to explain it but honestly I still don't understandI gaped at him Whatever are you talking about? I askedHe was already starting to fade but I could still hear his voice Doctor Rayner he whispered plaintively Why why why did you write Twilight?


  6. says:

    Well Where to start with this Ok Let us first pretend that there are only two criteria to use when analysing works of fiction 1 number of characters and 2 richness of plot Now let us say we are drawing a chart with uality 1 on the horizontal axis and uality 2 on the vertical axis Now we have a space into which we can slot a few books lying around the house A Dickens novel goes into the upper right uadrant of the grid many characters and rich plot to bind them together A Samuel Beckett play would be located upper left just a few characters but richly textured interactions between them Dan Brown? Bottom left I am afraid ok there are other views but this is me talking now And what's in the bottom right uadrant? The London telephone book takes pride of place situated on the far right and exactly on the axis And just to the north west of it we find uicksilverWhy? Well let's see Let me talk about size first uicksilver forms part of a seuence of three volumes each weighing in at some 900 pages Each volume consists of 3 reasonably stand alone novels so essentially we have a series of 9 texts running to a combined 3000 pages Indeed the scope is even expansive than this and we can think of these 9 novels as a preuel series to Cryptonomicon another 900 page tome in which Neal deals with events happening in WWII So in terms of scope Neal's work is biblicalSo What happens in the three novels bound up in uicksilver? The first novel is about a 17th Century natural philosopher who is recalled to England to mitigate in the uarrel between Leibniz and Newton The second novel is about the rise and fall of an Oriental slave girl as a merchant in Amsterdam And the third novel is about the LeibnizNewton uarrel again You think that by distilling near 40000 lines of text down to five I have done the plot injustice?Well I haven't And this is precisely what bothers me about Neal's first three books I don't know what they are I do not think they are novels But neither do I think they are narrative history as for example Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall So what are they?I think Neal's work is best described as a tableau of 17th Century life Let me explain what I mean by this Let us imagine a detailed comprehensive historical monograph entitled 17th Century Europe in Politics Science Philosophy and Religion Our imagined work is a huge achievement in scholarship its scope dwarving that of Gibbon's Rise and Fall Now imagine this monograph as a pop up book delivering a three dimensional model of intricate detail showing all the facets of social life all the complex interactions of historical persons all the painful breakthroughs in nascent scientific thoughtFor the moment this model is static and not animated Now we create several figurines that we set into our pop up model of 17th Century life We breathe life into these figurines and they start walking around interacting now with this person now with that one creating an event here and another one there We observe what's going on and write it all up bind it into one book and call it uicksilverExcellent We have successfully created a tour d'horizon through the world of the 17th Century It does not matter that our characters do not have depth they are only vehicles to transport our encyclopaedic knowledge It does not matter that events do not create and develop a plot we are not really telling a story In the end Neal hands the reader a kaleidoscope to observe the 17th Century It shows the richness of life in glittering but confusing colours and in identifiable but jumbled shapes If there is an overall guiding principle in the work the disjointed mass of detail and isolated events makes it hard to discern uicksilver is to literature what music scores are to music what a dictionary is to poetry what a street map is to a metropolis It shows the detail but not the soul


  7. says:

    The gold that paid for a pound of Malabar pepper was melted and fused with the gold that paid for a boatload of North Sea herring and all of it was simply gold bearing no trace or smell of the fish or the spice that had fetched it In the case of Cœlestial Dynamics the gold—the universal medium of exchange to which everything was reduced—was force Neal Stephenson uicksilver Book 1 uicksilver That one man sickens and dies while another flourishes are characters in the cryptic message that philosophers seek to decode Neal Stephenson uicksilver Book 1 uicksilver gives off a bit of a low brow SF Pynchon vibe It works well in parts and falls a bit flat in parts dialogue etc I sometimes wish Stephenson wouldn't chase down every last snowflake I really do however enjoy the primary narrator Daniel Waterhouse and his interactions with such figures as Isaac Newton Samuel Pepys John Wilkins etc Having already read Cryptonomicon I was also glad to see Enoch Root one of my favorite characters from that book Like Pynchon Stephenson takes historical fiction and probes the fiction needle into history at funky angles He thrills at causing his fictional characters to interact in obliue ways to historical characters Given the large amount of negative space in history think about how much we DON'T know about people like Newton or even the consumate diariest Pepys a creative writer of historical fiction can bendreflectrefract the light of the past to tell many compelling stories King of the Vagabondsand they don't even have to be plausable they just can't completely contradict major historical eventsBook 2 King of the Vagabonds Jack had been presented with the opportunity to be stupid in some way that was much interesting than being shrewed would've been These moments seemed to come to Jack every few days Neal Stephenson King of the VagabondsStephenson continues his uicksilver Volume with Book 2 King of the Vagabonds Where Book 1 uicksilver dealt primarily with Isaac Newton and Daniel Waterhouse King of the Vagabonds centers around the adventures of Half Cocked Jack Shaftoe Doctor Leibniz and Eliza It seems to have taken stock of Joseph de la Vega's'Confusion de Confusiones 1688 and perhaps also Charles Mackay's later Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and even Frances and Joseph Gies' Life in a Medieval City Much of the book involves the adventures of two or three of the above Jack Liebniz Eliza making their way across many of the markets and cities of Europe It allows Stephenson to discuss not only the politics of the age of Louis XIV but also the changing markets Leipzig Paris London Amsterdam politics religion and birth of the Age of Resaon Stephenson has said in Book 1 he was primarily dealing with nobility and the top end of the economic ladder So in Book 2 he wanted to spend a bit of time at the bottom of the ladder hence Vagabonds Half Cocked Jack Shaftoe Daniel Waterhouse and Eliza of wghlm are all ancestors of characters from Stephenson earlier book Cryptonomicon Enoch Root appears in this book as well as in uicksilver AND Cryptonomicon He is like a Zelig for science Always appearing just where he needs to be to give the wheel a turn the cart a push the clock of progress a windBook 3 Odalisue Even a well made clock drifts and must be re set from time to time Neal Stephenson OdalisueAn odalisue was a chambermaid or a female attendant in a Turkish haram seraglio particularly the ladies in haram of the Ottoman sultan So the book title references Eliza who in book 2 King of the Vagabonds is rescued by Half Cock Jack King of the Vagabonds Eliza in this book enters the world of European economics and spycraft She rises from broker of the French nobility eventually earning the title of Countess of Zeur She also aids William of Orange as he prepares to invade England gaining the added title of Duchess of ghlm Odalisue also brings us back to Daniel WaterhouseI personally missed Jack Shaftoe but that was partially assisted because we were introduced to his brother Bob ShaftoeI've enjoyed Volume one I'm a big fan of the Age of Enlightenment and was thrilled to experience of fictionalized Pepys Newton Leibniz William of Orange etcNegatives of the books and series so far? Like in Cryptonomicon Stephenson is going big think Pynchon Eco etc but his prose is flat often and his dialogue is worse The dialogue seems closer to a Boston pub in 1987 than in a Royal Society meeting but meh It was still intersting and fascinating I like the label History of Science Fiction So I might not read this one twice but I'll for sure finish the series just not tonight


  8. says:

    uicksilver by Neal Stephenson is in some ways the strangest book I’ve read this yearThe most surprising aspect of the book is the fact that there is no plot I’ve read books that have started really slowly and even books where the author largely ignores plot to focus on building the setting This book however has no plotFor all intents and purposes uicksilver is The 17th Century The Novel In many ways it feels like the literary euivalent of an open world video game You just go around exploring with the characters with no context or coherence whatsoever Historical value is incredible Certain individuals like Isaac Newton John Churchill and William of Orange figure heavily Tons of others make shorter appearances As for location the book takes you everywhere from the port of colonial Boston to the 1683 siege of ViennaAnd almost surprisingly it’s charming Almost a thousand pages of exploring a historical setting occasionally becomes an arduous task but occasionally also becomes an exciting adventure filled with interesting detailsThe book is divided into three parts Considering the ridiculous size of the whole volume you might define the three as books in themselves I definitely had to take a break and read other things between each of themThe first book focuses on Daniel Waterhouse Puritan thinker and scientist and one time member of the Royal Society His part is split in two between a “present day” 1713 account of his leaving Massachusetts on a ship bound for England This acts as a frame story for the second which is a tale about his life and exploits with the Royal Society decades earlier I strangely enjoyed the former than the latter even though it is moving so slowly that although the book starts out in Boston the ship ends the part by sailing out of Massachusetts BayThe second book focuses on Jack Shaftoe vagabond turned mercenary and Eliza slave in the harem of the Ottoman sultan From their meeting during the siege of Vienna the book follows them on a journey together through the various principalities and kingdoms of Europe filled with strange details and interesting historiesThe third book pulls the first two together in something of a conclusion leading up to the year 1688 The historical ending of the book was rather obvious if you are familiar with these timesOverall it’s a much interesting book to read in than a book to read While there is little sign of a story and the fictional protagonists are not particularly outstanding the setting is uniuely interesting and very well described Despite being a work of historical fiction the reader will inevitably learn a lot about 17th century history in very enjoyable ways


  9. says:

    This was the book that knocked Neal Stephenson off of my buy on sight list Too long nothing happening the first of three dauntingly large volumes That about sums it up


  10. says:

    Neal Stephenson books are not for everybody Actually they are but not everybody will like them This will certainly be the case for uicksilver It's a love it or WTF did I just read? kind of reaction A NS book is often dense and erratic in the linear story Mr Stephenson has a myriad of interests and a sizeable intellect backing him up His stories tend to delve in a variety of side topics all of which are very informative but outside the normal story arc and that can be off putting to many who dislike tangential topics to the main plot Wellyou have been warned For the rest of you that like NS let me tell you about uicksilverIt is a book broken up into three parts The first part uicksilver is flashback of the early life of Daniel Waterhouse during the early 1700s The second part King of the Vagabonds focuses on James half Cocked Shaftoe and the vast majority takes place circa 1683 The final part Odalisue goes back to D Waterhouse and details his exploits during his time as a courtier for Charles II of EnglandSet during the Baroue era NS shows the monumental changes taking place As an aside the Baroue era was one where the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Council of Trent 1545 1563 in Trento Italy decided to perform a Counter Reformation to act against the growing Protestant outbreak What the Council espoused ironically contrary to past Church policy was that the Church ought to encourage arts that explored religious themes with a direct and emotional involvement Thus the exaggerated motion and clear easily interpreted detail of the Baroue style found a receptive audience among the Church and the Aristocracy who felt that the the dramatic style of Baroue art and architecture was a means of impressing visitors by projecting triumph power and control Thus the Baroue style originates in Italy specifically Rome and began to spread throughout Europe during the 1600sThe story is a grand adventure The setting is Europe and the cast includes many famous people from Newton to William of Orange Along the way you will learn about the conflict between Gottfried Leibniz and Issac Newton about the math behind Newton's ideas was interesting wellto me It shows the basis for the creation of calculus and how it differed from geometric and trigonometric expressions Truly amazing It also hints at the fact that what Leibniz is referencing as a math language is the basis for the binaric calculations done by modern computers Very coolI will not spoil the plot nor delve too much into the details since NS does it far better than I if you're interested in the scientific political and economic forces that drove the baroue period then this is the book for you Vast in scope dark in humor dense in knowledge lacking in a strict linear plot this is textbook NS Coming in at the size of a textbook I reiterate this is not for everyone but if you show the patience to get through it I think you will find it to be worth it I did