Friday, January 28, 2005

Novels of The Company

The Company's real name is Dr. Zeus. They are a 24th-century operation devoted to getting rich off the past. The Company turns orphans and refugees from the past into highly intelligent, physically invincible cyborgs and sends them on missions to save or hide precious paintings, cultural treasures, and genetic information useful to the future world.

In the first book, In the Garden of Iden, 5-year old Mendoza is rescued from the Spanish Inquisition by a company operative. After undergoing training and a series of surgeries to turn her into a cyborg, Mendoza is reunited with her rescuer, Joseph, and sent on a mission to Elizabethan England to rescue rare plants before they become extinct. Once there, she falls in love with Nicholas who has a secret of his own. He is a Protestant in Catholic England.

Sky Coyote is told from Joseph's point of view in 1699 when he is reunited with Mendoza for a mission. They must save an ancient people from encroachment by the coming white men by convincing the entire pre-Columbian village to step into the future. Most interesting in this book is our first view of people from the future who are afraid of real food, nature, the cyborgs, and insist on political correctness at all costs.

Mendoza in Hollywood finds Mendoza with a team in California during the Civil War. Everything is pretty routine except for a strange anomaly nearby when the doppelganger of Mendoza's lost love comes by. He's a British spy and that is not a good thing.

The Graveyard Game is told largely from Lewis' point of view. Mendoza has been missing for some time and he and Joseph are trying to discover what is going on. The plot thickens when they discover other cyborgs are missing and a seeming conspiracy of the future people to shut the immortals down.

Black Projects, White Knights is a collection of short stories about The Company operatives throughout time as they have encounters with famous people and try to recover "lost" treasures. It fills in a few of the blanks in The Company's history while adding to the mystery about Nicholas. The character of Alec Checkerfield is introduced here who I believe is the main character of the newest Company book, The Life of the World to Come.

Somewhat surprisingly, as I am such a fan of this series, I do not find Mendoza a very attractive character. I much prefer Joseph and Lewis and, therefore, the novels told from their viewpoints. However, no matter who is narrating, the intrigue and suspense are riveting as the "immortals" move through time closer to the date beyond which no news comes back. Baker is a master at weaving complex tales that leave you on the edge of your seat. She also has a wonderful sense of humor and talent for making the past come alive believably. I imagine she did quite a bit of research especially for the earlier books. Highly recommended.

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