The Confusion, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (4 ratings)


Neal Stephenson continues his extraordinary Baroque Cycle in this sequel to his bestselling Quicksilver, bringing to life a cast of unforgettable characters in a time of breathtaking genius and discovery.

It is the late 1600s, on the high seas. A group of Barbary galley slaves plot as they ply the oars of a pirate ship, hatching a daring scheme to find an enormous cache of Spanish gold.

Amazingly, they succeed - leaving some very unhappy men behind who vow to hunt down the vagabonds and bring them to justice, no matter the cost. Meanwhile, back in France, the beautiful Eliza - toast of Versailles and spy extraordinaire - attempts to return to London with her baby, a child whose paternity is shrouded in mystery.

Making her way home, her ship is stopped by a French privateer and she is returned to the Sun King's court.

Thrown back into a web of international intrigue, Eliza must contend with all manner of characters, including buccaneers, poisoners, Jesuits, financial manipulators, and even a stray cryptographer or two...


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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

The Confusion feels a lot like what it actually is - the middle part of a trilogy. Stuff happens, mainly to Eliza and Jack (two of the protagonists of the first book) and keeps happening and happening. (I missed Newton and Waterhouse quite a lot, although they do have their cameos). Sometimes a tiny bit of a crescendo would have been nice. Something more driven than the never ending schemes and counter-schemes. The successes and failures became kind of predictable in the end: at first they succeed than someone is even cleverer and they fail, only to find a way out of their predicament - this goes for all the main charachters. Thus, the adventures of Jack and Eliza often seems like, well, filler. Filler for the last book.Still an entertaining read and I absolutely adore Stephenson for the amount of research he has put into the book. Knowing a little bit of your European history in the 17th and 18th century will certainly help to keep the Kings and Queens straight *g* Sadly enough, I had to look up a lot of it.I will definitely pick up the last book of the trilogy, but only after some light and short books inbetween.

Review by

The Confusion is where Stephenson's Baroque trilogy really reaches it's apex of mind-boggling complexity. As I've said before, his work is idea-rich, sometimes (okay, often) hard to follow because of it's intricacy. That said, this is another excellent novel of ideas and an extremely fun one to boot. Pirates? Come on, pirates are awesome.

Review by

The second installment in Neal Stephenson’s massive Baroque Cycle, i.e. <i>The Confusion</i>, concentrates on the exploits of Jack Shaftoe and his merry band of multiculti galley slaves, as they both make plays and are played all around the known world in the late 17th century. The adventures of the series’ other two main characters – i.e. Daniel Waterhouse the natural philosopher, and Eliza the Duchess of various parts who’s also a hot babe/financial genius – are downplayed when compared to the Cycle’s first volume, <i>Quicksilver</i>. Given this shift of emphasis to Jack, the book is actually more coherent and easy to follow, especially since there are few new characters introduced on the European stage. But since I found the picaresque exploits of Jack Shaftoe the least interesting of this series’ main storylines, I enjoyed <i>The Confusion</i> perhaps a bit less than <i>Quicksilver</i>, even though it was easier to read.Never the less, several episodes in the adventures of Jack’s own little cabal stand out: their encounters in India and Japan are especially good fun. Much less interesting is the book’s rather interminable section in the New World; Stephenson seems to lose his narrative energy here, as if he felt he had to throw in some adventures in Spanish-colonial Mexico just to get his main characters across the western hemisphere and back over to Europe. This series isn’t for everyone, but since I’m still finding the frequent asides on subjects ranging from science and technology to shipbuilding and navigation to money and banking highly diverting and indeed instructive, I’m looking forward very much to finishing off the cycle with volume III.

Review by

I am entirely perplexed by this trilogy! Usually by the time I have read the first book in a trilogy - let alone the second - I know well whether I am intending to keep the series for an indulgent re-read in the future. After reading the first book, I had been intrigued enough to read the second but felt that overall I would be discarding the series.What a difference a book makes! Over the course of this second book, I found myself musing on the story even while I was not reading about the continued adventures of Eliza and Jack. This book is reward for struggling through the first, which was enormously dense and detailed.The book is shared between Eliza (Juncto) and Jack (Bonanza), their stories intertwining. We find Jack alive and well, and free from the French pox (syphilis). He has been captured by Barbary pirates and his tale involves a convoluted plot between him and other members of the Cabal - to capture a shipment of gold that will lead to their fortunes being made. His story leads him across the world - through the Far East and finally taking a dangerous trip to Acapulco. The capture of the gold has massive repercussions across the world, affecting many including Eliza, who starts her story being waylaid by Jean Bart and carried back to France, where she once again begins manipulating trade.This time both stories are equally gripping for one reason or another, and the skipping between both allows Stephenson to develop two different tones - the formal, slow burning plot of Eliza and the swashbuckling adventures of Jack Shaftoe. Many, many characters take centre stage here and become beloved to the reader over the course of 800 pages. Obviously Jack and Eliza will have the attention of the reader, but there is also Leibniz (the dignified and friendly Natural Philosopher who has befriended Eliza from the beginning); Bob Shaftoe (brother of Jack, more upright and stolid); Princess Caroline (beautiful and fiercely intelligent); and the many entertaining members of the Cabal.We also see the beginnings of Minerva - the ship that is carrying Daniel Waterhouse back to England at the start of the first book in the trilogy - and meet her captain van Hoek (a Dutch captain who feels the need to shed body parts when in gravest danger).Altogether I am being overwhelmed gradually by the trilogy of books, and can find much to love about them. On the flipside, the writing is still inpenetrable at times and leaves me feeling confused as to what is actually occuring. At times the pacing of the story is woeful - leaving spells where I actually avoid picking up the book, although curiosity in the fates of Jack and Eliza always brings me back.I would tentatively recommend this book to everyone I know - with the proviso that it is still not *easy* reading (and that they have to suffer through book one to reach the heights of book two).

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