The Baroque Cycle, Volume 1: Quicksilver

Published by:

in conjunction with

ISBN: 0-380-97742-7
Edition size: 1,000 numbered
MSRP: $200.00

I know some of you are thinking this site is absolutely E-X-P-L-O-D-I-N-G. Another review in less than two weeks! All thanks (again) to C. Thomson. The pics and writeup are his, only the salty prefacing text is mine.

In all seriousness, this is a remarkable book. Back in early 2000, both Hill House, Publishers and William Morrow collaborated to produce three humongous tomes centered around what Neal Stephenson (the author) coined, The Baroque Cycle. 1,000 units of each volume would be produced at an MSRP of $200.00. The first book would be entitled Quicksilver and the second The Confusion, with the last volume being The System of the World.

The results were outstanding, as seen in the below pics. This hits all three of my "must have" qualities for a limited-edition - a tremendous pagecount, gorgeous presentation, and fair price. The only thing that makes me pause is, as C. Thomson points out, the very high print run, which means this book won't disappear any time soon from secondary sources (if ever).

However, don't take my word for it. Let C. Thomson be your guide for this remarkable review of Quicksilver: Volume I in the Baroque Cycle.

Volume 1 of Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle

Review and Pictures by C. Thomson

Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver is the first volume of a three volume set known as The Baroque Cycle.  Of these three volumes there are a total of eight books. Quicksilver is home to the first three.  This edition was published by William Morrow (WM) in conjunction with Hill House Publishers (HH); and the best part is that all three volumes were published in matching styles.

Reminiscent of other HH titles, the slipcase features a die-cut window where the Quicksilver symbol may be glimpsed on the book proper.  The slipcase and book are wrapped in matching silver Japanese silk, which is smooth to the touch and does not feel like it will tear or snag on anything as the book is moved about.  A great idea to include a pull-out ribbon inside the slipcase makes extracting this mammoth from its home quite simple.  Plenty of foil stamping on the book’s spine and front cover reflect any and all light making the book appear as if it is glowing.  Printed on heavy paper and measuring in at around three inches thick, this oversized volume does well to be more than an expensive paperweight.

Inside: two multi-colored maps adorn the endpapers of this volume - a map of Europe in the beginning and a map of London in the back.  Each is expertly reproduced and the detail is very accurate.  A single color frontispiece lies opposite the title page.  Printed in two colors throughout the book, silver is used to accent the page numbers as well as provide a palette for each section divider throughout the text.  New sections and books receive their own slightly altered title page with a colored design on the back of that page.  Spread amongst the pages are a few hierarchical family trees and diagrams with text wrapping.

Details of this production run taken from publisher’s site:

Given everything about this book, I can only say that I would have liked to have seen a ribbon marker in the same silver silk as the slip case.  Perhaps that is not something WM does with their limited editions, as their production of Gaiman’s Neverwhere lacked the same thing.  Therefore, I would RECOMMEND this with the only reason not getting a higher mark is the limitation of 1,000 copies and the ribbon marker.  Otherwise a very handsome volume, very nicely bound.

And lastly, please allow the following pictures to further explain the beauty of this masterwork.

- N U M B E R E D -

As seen from the front within the slipcase.

The spine of book, nestled in the slipcase.

Beauty shot of book and slipcase with ribbon pull.

Front of book. It looks like the pull-out ribbon and where the ribbon is attached has made an indelible impression on the front and back boards.

Enlarged view of Quicksilver symbol on front cover.

Back of book. Again, you can see where the pull-out ribbon was situated while placed in the slipcase. I would advise anyone owning any of these volumes to check theirs for similar wear. Given this, a Brodart or Gaylord cover is a must to prevent or limit any further damage.

Tight binding of book.

Front endpaper map depicting Europe.

Back endpaper map depicting London.

Signed and numbered limitation page.

Frontispiece opposite title page.

Title page with watermark.

Copyright page indicating first printing and Hill House collaboration.

Design as seen on all new section pages.

Enlarged view of page numbers.

Table of contents.

Book title page with watermark.

Text layout on the first page of new section.

Example of Family tree hierarchy.

Sample of text layout with colored diagrams.

Sample wall of text like most pages in book.