''The Baroque Cycle'' is an epic by Creator/NealStephenson about the birth of the modern world and set during TheCavalierYears. Through the volumes ''Quicksilver'', ''The Confusion'', and ''The System of the World'', the cycle follow the intertwining stories of natural philosopher Daniel Waterhouse FRS, vagabond 'Half-Cocked' Jack Shaftoe, his soldier brother Bob and harem girl-cum-capitalist Eliza of Qwghlm, who's also the love of Jack's life. Spanning decades and the globe, the novels chart the rise and eventual triumph of the scientific method and modern capitalism. Collectively, the story might best be described as historical science-fiction with fantastic elements.

Basically, it's the result of what happens when you take one part tall tale, one part science, one part modern history, one part alchemy, a dictionary, a dash of macroeconomics, and a whole lot of guts. Add Isaac Newton, cryptography, The Sun King, puritans, the Royal Society, capitalism, Blackbeard, illegitimate children, and Solomonic gold.

'''The protagonists:'''
* Daniel Waterhouse: ScienceHero and son of a WellIntentionedExtremist, he's eschewed his father's extremist Puritanism in favor of an interest in [[OmnidisciplinaryScientist natural philosophy]]. In his old age, he's TheProfessor, but is often seen as a MadScientist.
* "Half-Cocked" Jack Shaftoe: ActionHero, CrazyAwesome LovableRogue, and unwilling CelibateHero ("Half-Cocked" has more than one meaning...) with a thirst for adventure who lives his life as one IndyPloy after another and is an example of IHaveManyNames, such as: 'Half-Cocked' Jack, [[BilingualBonus L'Emmerdeur]], the King of the Vagabonds, Ali Zaybak, Quicksilver, Sword of Divine Fire, and Jack the Coiner.
* Eliza: An ex-slave rescued by Jack who soon discovers a talent for both finance and manipulation. Her brilliance, financial acumen, skill at espionage, penchant for planning and ability to manipulate people (including pretty much the entire French nobility) make her one hell of a GuileHero.
* Bob Shaftoe: Jack's somewhat more level-headed brother and thus the [[RedOniBlueOni Blue Oni to Jack's Red Oni]]. Spends much of the cycle trying to rescue a DistressedDamsel from a villain, working with Daniel and Eliza from time to time.

'''RealLife [[strike:scientists]]natural philosophers featured heavily in the story:'''
* IsaacNewton: CloudCuckoolander extraordinaire and AmbiguouslyGay [[LonersAreFreaks freakish loner]] who happens to be one of the most brilliant people who have ever lived.
* Gottfried Leibniz: A [[DichterAndDenker German natural philosopher]] just a brilliant as Newton but without the personality flaws and with a ''very'' [[HarmonyVersusDiscipline different worldview]]. Indeed, the book's main focus is the difference betwen Newton and Leibniz's worldviews.
* John Wilkins: TheProfessor who effectively founded the Royal Society. TheObiWan to Daniel. Has an interest in how language can both obfuscate and clarify meaning.
* Robert Hooke: Deformed OmnidisciplinaryScientist and JerkWithAHeartOfGold. He's [[ForScience obsessed enough with his work]] that he can veer off into MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate at times, but he's not completely amoral.

'''Jack's Cabal, organized in ''The Confusion'':'''
* Moseh de la Cruz: Spanish crypto-Jew and TheSmartGuy who organized the Cabal and came up with their Plan. BadassBookworm.
* Otto van Hoek: seaman who ''really'' hates pirates. Becomes TheCaptain when the Cabal gets their CoolBoat.
* Dappa: African linguist, BadassBookworm, and just as much TheSmartGuy as Moseh. Hates slavery just as much as Van Hoek hates pirates. Completely averts ScaryBlackMan, as he's one of the most calm, collected, and intellectual members of the Cabal.
* Jeronimo: DashingHispanic with TourettesShitcockSyndrome.
* Gabriel Goto: JapaneseChristian {{Ronin}} who demonstrates KatanasAreJustBetter. Born after his father was exiled from Japan and wants to go home for the first time in his life. As a Jesuit priest, he's also well-educated, and very much a GeniusBruiser.
* Vrej Esphahnian: ManipulativeBastard and old "friend" of Jack.
* Yevgeny the Raskolnik: TheBigGuy. As TheBigGuy he, of course, uses a [[DropTheHammer hammer]] after [[spoiler:he loses his arm at the battle of Khan el-Khalili it is replaced with a cannonball on an iron rod at on point and a massive flail at another point]]

'''And tying everyone together:'''
* Enoch Root, also known as [[ColorCodedWizardry Enoch the Red]]: [[{{Immortality}} Immortal]] [[{{Alchemy}} alchemist]] and the only character from ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}'' to personally appear in ''Literature/TheBaroqueCycle''. Straddles the line between DeusExMachina and DeusExitMachina: he often [[MrExposition tips off the protagonists to vital information]] they couldn't have known otherwise (but he doesn't tell them ''too'' much), and he quickly makes himself scarce so the protagonists can act on that information by themselves.

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!!This novel series provides examples of:

* AlternateUniverse - Takes place in our own world, but swaps out some of the real historical figures (King Charles II's CABAL, Newton's real Cambridge roommate John Wickins) and adds some mysterious personages (Enoch Root, Solomon Kohan).
* AntiHero - Jack and Eliza
* ArrangedMarriage - As per history, most of the nobility. Notably the German princesses Eleanor and Caroline.
* BackFromTheDead - [[spoiler:Daniel and Isaac. Maybe Édouard de Gex, but it's kept ambiguous.]]
* BadassBoast with a distinct flavor of IHaveManyNames
-->'''Jack''': "In fact I have let you live, but for one purpose only: so that you can [[BringNewsBack make your way to Paris and tell them the following]]: that the deed you are about to witness was done for a woman, whose name I will not say, for she knows who she is; and that it was done by [[IHaveManyNames 'Half-Cocked' Jack Shaftoe]], ''[[IHaveManyNames L'Emmerdeur]]'', [[IHaveManyNames the King of the Vagabonds, Ali Zaybak: Quicksilver]]!"
* BadassBookworm: Bonaventure Rossignol is a brilliant cryptanalyst who enjoys reading people's mail (encrypted or not) to find out if they're heading into danger just so he can run off to be a [[BigDamnHeroes Big Damn Hero]].
* TheBaroness - D'Oyonnax.
* BatmanGambit:
** [[spoiler:Jack's]] daring escape in the finale, performed by deliberately subverting a ThanatosGambit (see that trope's entry on this page for details).
** [[spoiler:Vrej Esphahnian's]] plan for getting revenge on Jack involves much manipulation of several people just to get aboard the same ship, several ''years'' pretending to be loyal to Jack, and eventually taking advantage of Jack's love for Eliza to lure ''Minerva'' into a trap.
* BerserkButton - Eliza does not like slavery. It's enough to get her to [[spoiler: attempt to kill Jack with a harpoon for getting involved with it.]]
* BigDamnHeroes - Eliza and Fatio's rescue of William of Orange.
* BiTheWay - William of Orange and Eliza (or at least both of them go out of the way to appear bi, regardless of whether or not they're really attracted to both sexes).
* BoisterousBruiser:
** "Half-Cocked" Jack Shaftoe, "''L'Emmerdeur'', the King of the Vagabonds, Ali Zaybak: Quicksilver."
** Jack's sons, Jimmy and Danny, also inherited this trait.
** Peter the Great also counts.
* BunnyEarsLawyer - William of Orange is GenreSavvy enough to understand that the most competent people have the weirdest quirks. Thus, he goes out of his way to hire quirky people, and he distrusts those without quirks.
* TheCaptain - Captain Otto van Hoek, member of the Cabal and captain of ''Minerva''. Yes, he has a HookHand.
* CaptainErsatz - Stephenson substituted some RealLife figures with these to make his story flow better: all members of Charles II's CABAL are these, Roger Comstock's life is almost identical to that of Charles Montagu (the narration even [[{{Lampshaded}} lampshades]] it by referring to Roger as "a Capulet or a Montague"), and in college, Daniel took the role of Isaac's RealLife roommate.
* CelibateHero:
** Jack, but not by choice- the nicknamed ''Half-Cocked'' refers both to his mental state and the result of an operation to cure venereal disease gone horribly wrong
** Also Isaac Newton, as per history
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}
** Hooke, anyone?
** Newton is off in his own world much of the time. Newton was this in real life. During his entire stint in Parliament, his only recorded words were a request to open a window.
* CloudcuckoolandersMinder: Daniel is this to Isaac when they are students.
* CoolBoat - ''Minerva''.
* CoolSword - Jack's Janissary sword; it's made out of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wootz_steel wootz]], which is for all intents and purposes, {{unobtanium}} that exists in RealLife. Wootz was used to make Damascus, or "watered," steel, in a process unknown today. Though attempts have been made to imitate it, modern results are slightly inferior to the historical artifacts.
* DeadpanSnarker - The older Daniel gets, the snarkier he gets.
* DoorStopper - Three books, written by Creator/NealStephenson. They're broken into ''eight'' more manageable, but still enormous, novels in some markets. The manuscript (on display at the Sci-Fi Museum in Seattle), is a handwritten stack of paper that is taller than the author. The audio version is one hundred and thirteen hours long.
* DoubleMeaningTitle ''Quicksilver'' and ''The Confusion''.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: Used InUniverse when Bob Shaftoe notes how the greatest MasterSwordsman of the era was defeated by an Irishmen with a log.
* DuelToTheDeath: With cannons.
* TheDungAges: It seems that Stephenson can't go more than a dozen pages without making some reference to some form of feces, and just how many open sewers ran through 17th and 18th century European cities (especially London.)
* EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether - Daniel Waterhouse and Isaac Newton, as well as Upnor, Monmouth, and Jeffreys, were all at Cambridge at the same time.
* EvilJesuit - Édouard de Gex
* EyeScream - Both in-story and for the reader: Daniel inadvertenly walking in on Isaac experimenting by sticking a needle into his own eye socket.
* FaceHeelTurn - [[spoiler:Vrej Esphahnian]]
* FunetikAksent - Lord Gy speaks in an almost impenetrable Scottish accent. Other characters insist that he's not actually speaking English. In the afterward, Stephenson assures anyone who might be offended by the accent that his ancestors are surely already spinning in their graves.
* GalleySlave - Monsieur Arlanc, and [[spoiler: Jack, as well as everyone else in the Cabal.]].
* GambitRoulette Eliza's incredibly [[IncrediblyLamePun baroque]] plan for getting revenge on Lothar.
* GenerationXerox: Various characters are examples for their ancestors, who appear in ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}''.
** Daniel Waterhouse is an extremely intelligent technophile who makes contributions to the realm of computing, but lives in the shadow of his more brilliant friends, just like his descendants Lawrence and Randy Waterhouse.
** Jack Shaftoe and his sons are irreverent badasses. Bob Shaftoe is a soldier. Their descendants are also soldiers and/or fiercely independent badasses.
** Gabriel Goto is a tough and level-headed side-character, just like Goto Dengo.
* GeniusBruiser:
** Fr. Gabriel Goto, SJ.
** Peter "Saturn" Hoxton, a big, burly brute of a man who happens to be a skilled clockmaker and [[spoiler:bomb maker]].
* HarmonyVersusDiscipline - Leibniz is Harmony, Newton is Discipline. The ''real'' reason why they hate each other.
* HeelFaceTurn - [[spoiler:Lothar]], when he comes to feel affection for little [[spoiler:Jean-Jacques/Johann]].
* TheHighQueen - Sophie of Hanover.
* HistoricalBadassUpgrade: Peter the Great. In reality he was extremely tall, but also very thin and prone to muscle spasms. In the series, he's a giant with immense strength who [[spoiler:single-handedly duels and kills the enormous badass Yevegny]].
* TheHouseOfHanover - The first two Georges make their appearances, but have rings run around them by Sophie and Caroline.
* TheHouseOfStuart - Beginning with the beheading of Charles I, Daniel Waterhouse gets to witness more than he ever wanted about the lives of the Stuart successors.
* {{Immortality}} - The goal of the Alchemists, and apparent state of [[spoiler: Enoch Root]]
* IndyPloy - Jack loves these.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn:
** Eliza thinks Jack's mispronunciation of the German word ''thaler'' as ''dollar'' is a stupid name for money.
** Enoch Root's friend thinks tea is too outlandish to ever catch on in England.
** Eliza's two banker friends thought the informal financial system used in Lyons will never work, the system is essentially the same as the modern credit-based economy.
* JapaneseChristian - Gabriel Goto
* KarmicDeath - Bob suggests this as an epitaph for [[spoiler:the Earl of Upnor]]: "finest swordsman in England, beaten to death with a stick by an Irishman", which is [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin exactly how he died]].
* KilledOffForReal - Quite a lot of people. Of course, when you're writing HistoricalFiction, {{Historical Domain Character}}s [[JustifiedTrope have to die when they're supposed to]].
* LargeAndInCharge - Peter of Russia - effect underlined by the fact that he apparently surrounds himself with midgets.
* LittleMissBadass - Johann von Hackleheber is a male example. [[spoiler:At the rough age of five, he shoots a man attempting to harpoon his adopted father to death. In the eye. With a toy bow and arrow. Doing so saved his father's life.]] [[BadAss He only grew from there.]]
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters - Just about everyone able to read in the time period(and a few who can't!) makes an appearance.
* TheLongitudeProblem - It's unsolved. This causes problems. The problem is brought up a number of times, with the English government offering a cash prize if the problem can be solved. A number of natural philosophers take up the challenge, but the problem remains unsolved by the end of the series.
* LampshadeHanging:
-->'''Teague''': What d'you think y'are, a ''character'' in a friggin' ''novel'', Bob?
* LovingAShadow - Gets an interesting twist in Eliza's relationship with Bob. She references the trope, but notes that since Bob is healthy and level-headed, and Jack is a crazy syphilitic, Jack, the original love, is the one who looks more like a shadow.
* MadeOfIron - Yevgeny is extremely tough and stoically endures even the most grievous injuries.
* MagneticHero - Jack is one. It's outright stated in the books that the people that Jack finds himself around would in any other situation be leaders and good ones- as van Hoek shows. But they all look towards Jack to take action.
* MasterSwordsman - The Earl of Upnor is said to be the most skilled swordsman in England. During a duel, he even manages to convey sarcasm through the movements of his sword.
* MeaningfulName: Moseh de la Cruz.
-->"'Moses of the Cross'? What the hell kind of name is ''that?"''
-->Moseh did not appear to find it especially funny. "It is a long story -- even by ''your'' standards, Jack. Suffice it to say that the Iberian Peninsula is a complicated place to be Jewish."
* MistakenForSpecialGuest: Jack Shaftoe, [=AKA=] "King of the Vagabonds," accidentally crashes a masquerade party that King Louis of France is expected to attend dressed as...King of the Vagabonds.
* {{Motifs}}
** The recurrent image in the first novel is quicksilver, a constant ingredient used in science, alchemy and finance. Mercury symbolizes the fluid scientific and economic forces that ruled the Age of Enlightenment.
** The second novel adds the concept of the confusion (or con-fusion), the mixing and destruction of the old to create the new.
* MusicalAssassin: Sort off, Eliza finally kills [[spoiler:De Gex]] (with some help from Handel) by tossing a cello across an orchestra pit and skewering him with the instrument's end pin
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast:
** Édouard de Gex's alias, Edmund '''de Ath'''.
** [[HangingJudge Jeffreys]]' hired assassins, Bob Carver and Dick Gripp.
* NeverFoundTheBody:
** [[spoiler:Yevgeny]], during the battle at Cairo. He turns up later.
** [[spoiler:Jack, for Isaac Newton. Newton can only assume that his dead body was carried away and buried, but in reality Jack wasn't quite dead]].
* NoodleIncident:
** Daniel Waterhouse may or may not have precipitated the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
** ''Something'' happened in 1677, involving Daniel, fire, and some of Newton's papers. The incident is referred to several times before we find out just what ''did'' happen.
* ObfuscatingStupidity - Daniel Waterhouse pretends to be suffering from senile dementia in order to root out the spy in Sophie of Hanover's court.
* OffWithHisHead - [[spoiler: Jack finds and beheads the man who sold Eliza and her mother into sexual slavery, and sends her his head on a silver platter]]
* OutWithABang - [[spoiler:Roger dies rogering Newton's sexy niece.]]
* PhantasySpelling: Many words are spelled in the archaic fashion, such as phanatiques, technologickal, clew, and phant'sy. Other words are hyphenated to show that the terms are new and have yet to become compound words.
* ThePlan:
** The Cabal's Plan to steal the Viceroy of Vera Cruz's silver.
** The assault on the [[spoiler:Tower of London]].
* RedOniBlueOni - Jack and Bob.
* ReallyGetsAround - To an extent Eliza, although some of this is an UrbanLegendLoveLife as part of ObfuscatingStupidity
* RealPersonFic - About the {{Original Character}}s Jack, Eliza, and Daniel in the middle of the Baroque era.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething - Louis XIV, William of Orange, Peter the Great, and the females of the House of Hanover. Notably, the King Charles II personally led a squad of firemen to deal with the Fire of London, and killed Daniel's father when he got in the way.
* {{Ruritania}} - The fictional island of Qwghlm is presented as a backward place, with almost no resources except a lot of bird crap. The main livelihood of its residence is acting as Wreckers of English ships.
* ShoutOut
** In ''The Confusion'', Enoch the Red provides an interesting twist on ClarkesThirdLaw: "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a yo-yo". Later Jack mentions that his "vagabond shoes are longing to stray".
** ''The System of the World'' references two Creator/MontyPython jokes (involving UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition and a shrubbery). There's also a brief mention of a book titled ''Python Explain'd'', though knowing the author's pet subjects, that may well be a cheeky anachronistic reference to the programming language, which was in turn named after the comedy troupe.
* SingleTargetSexuality - Jack for Eliza, since Eliza is literally the only person who is able to sexually satisfy Jack (it has to do with Jack's [[UnusualEuphemism disability]] and the things Eliza learned from "books of India" while in slavery.)
* UsefulNotes/TheSpanishInquisition - The members of the Cabal get an up-close-and-personal look at the Inquisiton when they arrive in Mexico in ''The Confusion''. And, yes, there was a Creator/MontyPython reference in ''The System of the World''.
* SpannerInTheWorks - One of Jack's nicknames, "L'Emmerdeur [[note]]French for "he who covers everything in shit" -- literally "the enshittener"[[/note]]," specifically references his tendency to be this.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute - Daniel [[DiscussedTrope discusses this trope]] when he notes that some people can easily be replaced by {{Suspiciously Similar Substitute}}s (e.g. Thomas More Anglesey replacing John Comstock), while others aren't so easily replaceable.
* TakeThat: Enoch The Red mentions having acquired some copies of a book called ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}''. Waterhouse's young son describes it as "A very queer old book, dreadfully thick, and full of nonsense," noting that his father uses it as a {{doorstopper}}.
* ThanatosGambit: {{Subverted}}. [[spoiler:Jack receives golden finery to bribe the executioner for a quick death. Instead, Jack distributes the riches to the crowd, pissing off the executioner and endearing him to the mob. When the executioner starts to hang Jack slowly as revenge, the mob storms the gallows and carries him to safety]].
* ThatOldTimePrescription: Jack's syphilis is cured when he contracts English sweating sickness. Treating syphilis by inducing a high fever was a real medical practice that sometimes did work.
* TourettesShitcockSyndrome - Jeronimo. There's even an amusing reference to the (fictional) St. Etienne de la Tourette.
* TwoLinesNoWaiting - Three, actually: Daniel, Jack, and Eliza. And those are just the major ones...
* {{Unobtanium}} - The Solomonic gold [[spoiler: Jack ends up with possibly the known world's supply, some of which is used in a life potion brewed up by Root]].
** Also, wootz steel [[spoiler: which also involves Jack and Root]]
* TheUnpronounceable - The written language of Qwghlm employs runes. Transcribing words into letters makes them utterly unpronounceable because there are no vowels.
* UpperClassTwit - Peer, who so embodies this trope that his name isn't even given in the text.
* TheWatson - Daniel Waterhouse for Isaac Newton, Gottfreid Leibniz, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren, Christiaan Huygens, Henry Oldenberg, ''et al.'' Waterhouse's CharacterArc can be described as a journey to the point where he finally stops being the Watson and requires his own Watsons to explain things to.
* WellIntentionedExtremist - All of the Puritans, though the ones that get the most focus are Drake Waterhouse and the Bolstroods. The Raskolniks, too, including Yevgeny.
* WinterRoyalLady - Much is made of the legacy of the original one; Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen.
* YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre: Daniel tells this to Hooke, who is insecure about being [[OvershadowedByAwesome overshadowed]] by Newton. The distinction he makes between Hooke and Newton is similar to the distinction that Randy Waterhouse makes in ''Cryptonomicon'' between "dwarves" and "elves."
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