The Baroque Cycle, Volume 3: The System of the World

Published by:

in conjunction with

ISBN: 0-06-059935-9
Edition size: 1,000 numbered
MSRP: $200.00

William Morrow and Hill House Publishers closed out Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle with this, the last book in the limited-edition trilogy. Entitled The System of the World, it collects Books 6, 7, and 8. I think you'll agree that C. Thomson has done a terrific job covering all three of these beautiful (and hefty) tomes. If you want to start your own collection or go for the gold and obtain the entire set (which I strongly encourage), they can be purchased from a variety of sources due to their high print run. If you are an obsessive type, you might even be able to piece together a matching set.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, I intend to purchase the trilogy for myself. They are a masterpiece of publishing and shows what can be done with the proper drive, dedication, and attention to detail. And as a definite bonus for the end consumer, they come at a relatively inexpensive MSRP.

Let C. Thomson again be your guide for the third (and last) volume in The Baroque Cycle.

Volume 3 of Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle

Review and Pictures by C. Thomson

Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World is the last volume of a three volume set known as The Baroque Cycle. Of these three volumes there are a total of eight books. The System of the World contains the last three. As opposed to the second volume, these books are presented sequentially. Like the others, this edition was also published by William Morrow in conjunction with Hill House.

Since the third volume is very similar to the other two in outward appearances, here are the design differences: both the book and slipcase are wrapped in a bright golden silk of the same type and quality as the other two. The icon naturally is different and here it is a foil stamped globe. All foil stamping is done in gold, which offers a third color. On the shelf all three look very handsome in silver, bronze, and gold. Since this volume consists of three books, naturally the page count is creeping toward 900 pages and measuring close to 3 inches thick. The one difference that stands out as a veritable “Huh?” moment is the orientation of the ribbon pull. As seen in the image below, where the slipcase is standing upright behind the book, the ribbon pull is attached to same side as the die-cut. This is opposite from the other two volumes, as the ribbon was attached to the other side of the slipcase. If one chooses to tuck the ribbon across the spine as my pictures show, it is not noticeable, but as a collector I can't help but wonder what exactly made them change this aspect of the design process.

Inside: and so another round of beautiful endpaper illustrations is provided. This edition contains a different map of London with an inset of Fleet Prison in the front. A map of the River Thames and an inset of the Tower of London with a legend 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 gold and grey, which plays nicely with the rest of the design. A single color frontispiece lies opposite the title page. Printed in two colors throughout the book, gold is used to accent the page numbers as well as provide a palette for each section divider throughout the text. Like all the other title sections, on the back of the page is a full pattern of gold.

As promised in the last review, I can only say that I would have liked to have seen a ribbon marker in the same gold silk as the slipcase. Actually, it would have been even nicer if the slipcase ribbon pull was on the same side as the others as well, but what is one to do? Not purchase the third installment and only have two-thirds of the Baroque Cycle? I think not! Therefore, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this assuming you have the other two and just RECOMMEND it if, for whatever reason, you decide you only wanted this one masterpiece of book binding on your shelf.

- N U M B E R E D -

Front of book in slipcase.

Book within slipcase quite snug.

Book and slipcase. NOTE the ribbon on the opposing side as expected. Very puzzling.

Front of book proper. Interestingly, the issue with the pull-out ribbon doesn't seem to've affected this side of the book. The other, though...

Macro of icon on front cover.

Back of book. NOTE the same marks left by the ribbon as on the other two volumes.

Tight binding.

Front endpaper map depicting London.

Back endpaper map depicting The River Thames.

Signed and numbered two-color limitation page.

Golden frontispiece.

Volume title page.

Copyright page.

Table of contents.

Title page.

Pattern as seen on back title.

The first page of new book with border.

Macro of page numbers.

A secondary title page seen towards end of book.

Sample wall of text.