Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson

The novel begins by introducing us to Daniel Waterhouse, a member of the Royal Society, around 1655. He shares a room with Issac Newton at Cambridge where they are studying together. The tale begins with him in the present day which is 1713 being taken back to England to pen his tales of life with Issac and rival Leibniz in the scientific and alchemical world. It is filled with scientific persons such as Christopher Wren and Hooke along with various royals like Charles II, James II and William of Orange as Daniel later gets caught up in politics and has a spell in the Tower of London as a traitor. Many scientific principles and experiments are described along with some unpleasant ones involving live stray dogs.

The second part of the narrative centres around Jack, "the King's Vagabond" and the lady he rescues from the Turks Eliza. They are both very colourful characters. Jack is a knave who listens to the Imp of the Perverse following this inner voice into many troubles and scrapes when he could easily take the easy way out. Eliza is called a whore by many, but has a vast intelligence and head for numbers. She becomes a spy for William of Orange as the story progresses and a double agent, while poor Jack has syphillis and will not last to the end of the tale.

The final section sees Daniel and Eliza's interests coming together independently with both of them escaping death and the many plots around them. Eliza and Daniel also both do work with Bob, Jacks more reliable brother who always tried to be a force of good and balance in Jack's life. Daniel has survived The Plague and the Great Fire of London and Eliza has escaped slavery to bring them into a new era.

Sorry for the wandering review, it is difficult to know where to even begin with this immense novel. My poor eyes are wrecked now. It is very long with a very small typeface which can be quite a strain at times. Overall I found it difficult to get into this book, but once Eliza and Jack were introduced it became much more fun! Both were favourite characters of mine and Eliza uses her femine charms indiscriminantly which made for an interesting read. I will read the two follow up books in the series at some point in the future, but for now I need to rest my aching eyes.