If you have already devoured Stephenson's Baroque Cycle you will know more about the characters and plots than me.
I came to the book on a recommendation from a friend and follower blogger.
Quicksilver is well written and very entertaining. It is about many things but if one had to tweet its subject it would be, 'the making of the modern world'.
Stephenson covers the creation of central banks, the establishment of national currencies, the growth of stocks and shares, the development of Whig political philosophy, the making of nation-states, the revolution in science and the political upheavals of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution.
He plays with history, so take care not to believe all of it, but with a cast that includes Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Pepys, D'Artagnan and John Locke we see why the rivalries and tensions between European nations exploded in 1914 and re-ignited in 1939.
The book is over 900 pages and so are the other two in the cycle. If you are going to read it make sure you clear your diary.