Now go outside and look at the sky.
Wow... yesterday I finished Anathem by Neal Stephenson and I have to say, it was quite some work to get through over 900 pages of rather amazing ideas.
The book is a world-building exercise on the level of Tolkien's best work, with a wide swath of fictional geography, history, local languages and culture fleshed out to the point of ridiculousness. There is certainly a steep learning curve during the early chapters, where a lot of concepts are introduced in short order, but things calm down a bit with long passages were actually not much is going on other than Stephenson cementing the world he has created for this rather extraordinary story to live in.
But even these slow sequences are full of great details and sparkly little ideas that make this a typical Stephenson novel, that often feel like a grand tour through the brain of a genius.
I really enjoyed how much of the early philosophical concepts and historical background become crucial parts of the story as it unfolds in the second half of the book - I found that to be a nice payoff for what early on feels like overindulgence on Stephenson's part.
The last third of the book takes the reader into a surprising direction, with the pacing picking up quickly and a rather amazing few chapters at the end where the book reminded me a lot of the action sequences in Snow Crash.
All in all I very much enjoyed Anathem and can highly recommend it to all Neal Stephenson fans. If you are new to Stephenson, check out Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon and if you like those, Anathem should be on your must-read list.