The Baroque Cycle, Volume 2: The Confusion

Published by:

in conjunction with

ISBN: 0-06-059934-0
Edition size: 1,000 numbered
MSRP: $200.00

And here is the second volume of Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle, comprising books four and five of this remarkable trilogy of limiteds from William Morrow and the late and much lamented Hill House. Details on these impressive editions were outlined in the review for Volume 1: Quicksilver. Take it away Mr. T!

Volume 2 of Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle

Review and Pictures by C. Thomson

Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion is the second volume of a three volume set known as the Baroque Cycle. Of these three volumes there are a total of eight books. The Confusion plays host to two of these books. As described by the author, the books carry two storylines simultaneously. So as to not “confuse” the reader, this volume switches back and forth between books 4 and 5. This edition was also published by William Morrow in conjunction with Hill House.

As the design goal of all three volumes was to be fairly similar, it should not be a surprise that, outwardly, this book resembles Quicksilver. The slipcase features a die-cut window where the Confusion symbol may be glimpsed on the book proper. The slipcase and book are wrapped in matching brown Japanese silk. The foil stamping on this volume appears in a more copper color than the bright silver of the last design. Included as well is the color matching ribbon pull attached to the slipcase. Printed on the same heavy paper and measuring in at around two and two-thirds inches thick (a baby compared to the first installment at only 815 pages in total), Neal certainly maintained the page count of the volume less one book in total.

Inside: as is the case for each of these volumes, beautiful endpaper illustrations are provided. Represented in this volume is a different map of Europe encompassing parts of Africa and an inset of England and France in the beginning. A map of Southeast Asia and an inset of Central and North America is in the back. Each is expertly reproduced and the detail is very accurate. In this volume, the map is tinted in the general theme of copper and brown, which is a nice touch. A single color frontispiece lies opposite the title page. Printed in two colors throughout the book, copper is used to accent the page numbers as well as provide a palette for each section divider throughout the text. To further enhance the integration of the two books, each title page has a very nice pattern colored in a brown motif on the back.

As mentioned in the previous review and will be broached in the next one as well, I can only say that I would have liked to've seen a ribbon marker in the same brown silk as the slipcase. Therefore, I would RECOMMEND this with the only reason not getting a higher mark is the limitation of 1,000 copies and the lack of an in-book ribbon marker.

And now, to the pictures!

- N U M B E R E D -

Book as seen from the front within the slipcase.

Spine of book, nestled in slipcase.

Book and slipcase with pull-out ribbon.

Front of book. As with Quicksilver, the pull-out ribbon has made an indelible impression on the front and back boards. It's very faint due to the color of the board thread, but is there.

Enlarged view of icon on front cover.

Back of book. Again, the pull-out ribbon has made its mark. A Brodart or Gaylord cover is HIGHLY recommended for these editions.

Tight binding of book (all dark page edges are the title pages for Book 4).

Front endpaper map depicting Europe.

Back endpaper map depicting the Americas.

Signed and numbered limitation page.

Frontispiece opposite title page.

Title page with watermark.

Copyright page indicating first printing and Hill House collaboration.

Author's note explaining book setup.

Title page of all Book 4 instances.

Pattern on back of all book title pages.

First page design of Book 5. Note the copper frame around text.

Enlarged view of page numbers.

Title page of all Book 5 instances.

Text layout on the first page of new section.