Book Review: “Bonanza” by Neal Stephenson (Book 4 of the Baroque Cycle)


I’m continuing the Baroque Cycle with “Book 4: Bonanza” which is paired with “Book 5: Juncto” in The Confusion (2004) by Neal Stephenson. This shows how stubborn I am to read one book at a time since Bonanza is “confused” together with Juncto making for a lot of page flipping.

Bonanza is all Jack Shaftoe as he connives to escape slavery and make a fortune in gold in an around the world adventure.  Jack and his polyglot cabal of escaped galley slaves travel through Algiers, Egypt, India, the Phillipines, China, Mexico, and the mysterious land of Qwghlm over a dozen years.  Topics covered include global commerce, colonialism, religious conflict, the Inquisition, Jesuits, alchemy, piracy, shipbuilding, metallurgy, numismatics, vulgarity, and slapstick humor.

Despite the adventure, I didn’t feel as engaged with this book as the earlier ones.  It all seems to be leading somewhere –  with tangents – but I’m not enjoying the ride as much.  I should have read it mixed-up with Eliza’s book Juncto.  I’ll find out soon when I read that book in the coming weeks.

By the way, I have to give credit to Vermeer’s Hat for covering the Manilla trade which involved Chinese merchants living in the outskirts of that city and an annual sailing of a galleon from New Spain bearing silver bullion.  This was a good background for many of the events in Bonanza.

The confusion / Neal Stephenson.
New York : Morrow, c2004.
815 p.: maps ; 25 cm.

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