(I fell in love with Stephenson years ago when I read Snow Crash. Diamond Age was also ambitious, and brilliant. But he came into his own with Cryptonomicon, and this work seems to develop some themes explored there. For lighter (and briefer) reading, on sort of a nonfiction topic (depending on where you put the history of computing in your own cosmic scheme of things) I also commend to you the (relatively brief) essay, In the Beginning Was the Command Line.)
If you read Cryptonomicon, you'll see that there is some tangential narrative continuity between that book and this, although the narratives are set a few centuries apart. But the richness, and the variety, and the sheer joy of excellent prose is there, explored in, really, a baroque complexity of detail. Not to say too much, but he covers politics, religion mathematics, geometry, astronomy, technology, Alchemy, Theology and the rise of what we now know as Scientific Method, but is only referred to here as Natural Philosophy.
If nothing else, you'll find here a veritable orgy of historical name-dropping, and will learn much History as well as Phant'sy. But your runamill historical novel, this is not.
When I got to page Seven Hundred Ninety-Eight, I cried. For such an effect, context is everything. Don't ask, just go read.