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In the Garden of Iden (1997)
by Kage Baker
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765314576, Paperback)In 16th-century Spain, everybody expects the Spanish Inquisition, as they have a well-known tendency to cart people off to their dungeons on trumped-up charges. What 5-year-old Mendoza, on the brink of being tortured as a Jew, is totally unprepared for is to be rescued by the Company--the ultimate bureaucracy of the 24th century--and made immortal. In return, all she has to do is travel through time on a series of assignments for the Company and collect endangered botanical specimens. The wisecracking, mildly misanthropic Mendoza wants nothing to do with historical humans, but her first assignment is to travel to England in 1553--uncomfortably close to those damn Inquisitors--with Joseph and Nefer, two other Company operatives. Their intent is to gather herb samples from the garden of Sir Walter Iden, a foolish though generous country squire. (Kage Baker knows her Shakespeare: Sir Walter is the descendant of Alexander Iden, loyal subject of Henry IV, who slew the hungry rebel Jack Cade in that very garden in Kent.)
The cyborg trio poses as Doctor Ruy Lopez, his daughter Rosa (the irrepressible Mendoza, now grown), and her duenna, Doña Marguerita; Sir Walter's hospitality and discretion are bought for the promise of restored youth. (There are hilarious moments that call to mind the Coneheads, who claimed to be from France when caught doing anything peculiar.) Sir Walter's secretary, Nicholas Harpole, is immediately suspicious of and hostile towards the strange "Spanish" visitors, which prompts Mendoza to fall in love with him. Nicholas has his own badly kept secret: he's proudly Protestant at a time when Queen Mary and Philip of Spain are on a Catholicizing rampage. Mendoza knows Nicholas is probably doomed, and that as a Company operative she cannot meddle with his fate, but love makes people do desperate things. Baker surpasses even Connie Willis in humor and precision of period detail in this fresh, ingenious first novel.--Barrie Trinkle
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:13 -0400)
Poor Mendoza. She's not thrilled about being sent to Renaissance England. It's a cold, backward, unsafe country. Gray curtains of rain. The food crawling with bacteria. No flush toilets. She won't get to see Shakespeare either. He hasn't been born yet. The English hate the Spanish like smallpox, especially now with bulldog-faced Mary on the throne. But Mendoza is no longer a frightened little girl in the dungeons of the Inquisition; she's a Company-trained botanist and has an assignment - to save Ilex tormentosum, a species of holly that will go extinct in a hundred years. She must save it for Dr. Z and the twenty-fourth century. Kage Baker, in her first novel, tells the story of a spunky young cyborg who, though an immortal operative, falls for Master Nicholas Harpole, a mortal with pale blue eyes, good legs, and a smooth, rich tenor that hangs on the air like a violin.
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