Odalisque (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1, Book 3)

ISBN: 0060833181
ISBN 13: 9780060833183
By: Neal Stephenson

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About this book

The trials of Dr. Daniel Waterhouse and the Natural Philosophers increase one hundredfold in an England plagued by the impending war and royal insecurities -- as the beautiful and ambitious Eliza plays a most dangerous game as double agent and confidante of enemy kings.

Reader's Thoughts


Continues the stories of Daniel Waterhouse and Eliza through the historical events at the end of the 17th century.


The final third of Quicksilver is every bit as good as the first two parts. It takes ahead the plotlines concerning Eliza, moving between Versailles, London and The Hague culminating in a long winded letter to Leibniz. Daniel's story is still a cliffhanger.See my review in Quicksilver for a more detailed review.


Nothing compares to the Baroque Cycle, except maybe "Lost," and that is cheating because it has a huge budget and moving pictures. I prefer Neal's Jack at any rate.


A great book. Really getting into the in-depth history of court intrigues and warfare. I liked King of the Vagabonds (part 2 of the Baroque Series) even more, and just started books 4-5!

Clif Hostetler

This book 3 of the Baroque Cycle follows the paths of the two fictional characters, Dr. Daniel Waterhouse and Eliza. Readers of the Baroque Cycle were previously introduced to Waterhouse in book 1 and Eliza in book 2. In this story they manage to encounter most of the leading historical figures of the day. The story begins in 1685 with Dr. Waterhouse present at the death of King Charles II. Tension in England then rises because the new King, James II, has Catholic preferences and the core of English sentiments are Protestant. Meanwhile on the Continent, Eliza is deep in the world of spies, counter spies and finance. She is a confidante of William of Orange (Holland) and Louie IV (France). Her adventures included witnessing the attempted kidnapping of William of Orange. Her travels also witnessed the beginning of French preparations for the invasion of Lorraine that signaled reduced pressure on the Netherlands. This allowed William of Orange to make his move on England that resulted in the so called Glorious Revolution of England.The story includes descriptions of the advances in natural philosophy. Included are descriptions of the tensions between Leibnetz and Newton, development of calculus, development of the laws of gravity, and the development of the field of dynamics in physics. The following quotation is an example of colorful and descriptive writing that caught my eye:...he was one of those blokes who used peripheral vision for everything. Give him a spyglass, he'd raise it to his ear, and see as much as Galileo. His nose had been broken at least twice and he'd endured a blowout fracture of the left eye-socket, which made it seem as if his face were a clay effigy squirting out between the fingers of a clenching fist.LINK TO Wikipedia article about the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of Quick Silver (Bk. 1) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of King of the Vagabonds (Bk. 2) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of The Confusion (Bks. 4 & 5) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of Solomon's Gold (Bk. 6) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of Currency (Bk. 7) by Neal Stephenson.LINK TO my review of System of the World (Bk. 8) by Neal Stephenson.


Like the others in this series, the plot and characters, don't really grab my attention, but the writing style is so entertaining, I read it anyway!


Enjoyable, although the epistolary format of a significant part of the book isn't my favorite mode (it is certainly period-appropriate, though). Not a stand-alone, this one requires readers to have completed the first two volumes to comprehend the characters and action.


Great end to the "Quicksilver" trilogy. Stephenson seemed as if he didn't really know how to move the story along quicker because there were alot of letters between characters in this one. This didn't take away from the book at all though. A great (if funny) cliff-hanger ending too. Looking forward to reading "The Confusion" soon.

William P.

The pace gets a little weird in this book. The style changes drastically from book to book and this one didn't really hold up as well as the first two. I'd like to see where it's going, but I'm beginning to doubt that it's "going" anywhere in particular. Also, the audiobook version, for some ungodly reason, switches to second reader for sections written as letters by Eliza. She's not good. Not only is her voicing of the character different from Prebble's (which I love, and he still narrates her in the main, third-person stretches), but it really doesn't match the character. It's just... wrong. And these letters are not an insignificant part of the book. If it weren't for Prebble, I'd say give the audio a miss and read it, but... Prebble...


Why do I keep reading these?If I could just have a few hundred pages of Neal Stephenson talking about the history of science and currency without these characters I would be thrilled. Likewise if he could tell me a story about these characters in which I actually believe they have some agency, rather than just being pulled along by historical events that already happened.


Absolutne arcydzieło... co jak co, ale jednak Neal Stephenson potrafi stworzyć książki kompletne, bohaterów idealnych i historie tak prawdziwe jak tylko potrafi być prawdziwa fikcja literacka. W postaci cyklu barokowego (w tym przypadku pierwszego tomu [lub pierwszych trzech ksiąg)) dostajemy powieść historyczną w której znajdziemy oblężenie Wwiednia, piratów (z port royale i Turcji) rozważania filozoficzno-naukowe, rozwój nowoczesnej fizyki, biologii, astronomii, zegarmistrzów, chirurgów (nie mylić z lekarzami którzy w tamtych czasach zajmowali się głównie upuszczaniem humorów z ciał pacjentów. Poznajemy zasady rządzące gospodarką i handlem, dworami królewskimi, genealogią i dziedziczeniem. Mamy także bardzo obrazowy opis porodu oraz usuwania kamieni moczowych... książkę czyta mi się o tyle ciekawiej, że wcześniej przeczytałem "okalające książki Stephenopsna - czyli wcześniejszy Cryptonomicon i późniejszą Peanatemę. Od razy widzimy tu jasne nawiązania do Cryptonomiconu oraz wątki które zostały rozinięte w Peanatemie. Takie podejście do literatury możemy znaleźć chyba tylko u Stephensona...

Jeff Thomas

not quite as good as book 2 "king of the vagabonds". still much better than book 1, which was often like reading a text book.


A continuation of the story begun in Quicksilver and King of the Vagabonds; this book brings together the fortunes of Eliza, Jack, and Daniel and sets the stage for System of the World.


Good enough - the plot thickens to the point of involving a large number of historical figures, which is a risky proposition and lends some inevitability to the proceedings. Otherwise, though, a reasonably engaging narrative.

Tim Jin

"Odalisque" is the last book in the first volume and there are two more volumes to go. I'm not too sure why Audible decided to split up the three volumes into eight books, but so far, the third book is my favorite. The story is finally moving along in Baroque Cycle. Unlike Quicksilver, which was basically the premise, and King of the Vagabonds, which was explaining the day wagers, Odalisque goes back at exams the hierarchy of the monarch. The story between of Daniel and Eliza makes it more compelling to read. The best part of this chapter in the series is the science and astronomy from Newton and his peers. In any series that I listens to, at certain point I need to read something else because after the third book, I loose interest. Maybe because I'm a fan of Stephenson or been waiting to read Baroque Cycle, I'm powering through these books and can't wait for more.

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