King of the Vagabonds: Great characters, still teachy

King of the Vagabonds by Neal Stephenson

King of the Vagabonds is the second installment of Neal Stephenson’s ambitious and epic Baroque Cycle. I was disappointed with Quicksilver, the first book, because, though it was a thorough and realistic historical fiction, it had neither a compelling main character nor a cohesive plot. Thus, it felt like a textbook, except that I wasn’t sure which anecdotes about the real historical figures were factual and which were fictional. In other words, if we’re going to skip the plot, I’d rather read about 17th century scientific discoveries in a non-fictional account. After all, there are plenty of interesting ones.

King of the Vagabonds is, therefore, quite an improvement, mostly because it has two extremely entertaining main characters: Half-Cocked Jack Shaftoe (who is, literally, half-cocked)... Read More