His previous book was Cryptinomicon, mostly about cryptography, that wove stories of WWII and the present day linked by certain, fictional families. Quicksilver takes a sizeable leap into the past by dealing with those same families in the 17th century.
I've been getting into history generally lately so this ties in well with what I've been reading about Isaac Newton. He features as a character in the book along with Pepys, Hooke, Leibnitz and various royals around Europe. What the book seems to be about are money and the flow of ideas. This was a fertile time for both of those with international money markets springing up and organisations like the Royal Society being formed.
My historical knowledge is too limited to know if it's a very accurate account of the events, but it is encouraging me to read more.
This is the first part of what he calls the Baroque Cycle. It's three books, but he shies away from Trilogy as it's more complex than that implies. The second book, The Confusion, is already out, but I need a break before I tackle that.
Neal has set up a wiki that annotates just about every page of the cycle as a way to find out more.
Thanks to Simon for lending me his copy of the book for a couple of months.