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In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

In the Garden of Iden (1997)

by Kage Baker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Company (1)

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A really incredible book, possibly the best book in the Company series. Mendoza is saved from the dungeons of the Inquisition to become an immortal cyborg working for Dr.Zeus, a company that has harnassed both immortality and timetravel. For her first trip to "the field", she travels to Tudor England to rescue rare plants from extinction. Unfortunately for her, she falls utterly in love with a remarkable mortal man--who is devoutly Protestant when Queen Mary takes the throne. Mendoza observes the mortal world with both a teenager's verve and naivete and a genius immortal's knowledge. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This was my first book by Kage Baker, (and, the first in her 'Company' series)
It reminded me quite a bit of OS Card's Pastwatch, which is one of those books I'm always recommending to everyone! ;-)
It postulates a 24th-century company, that in an effort to save lost species and works of art, trains technologically-enhanced specialists to live as undercover agents throughout history...
Like most time travel stories, there are some logistical issues... but the book focuses on the emotional ramifications rather than the tech details, telling the story of Mendoza, a girl rescued(?) from the Spanish Inquisition and sent to Elizabethan England to rescue rare plants from a country manor's garden, where she falls in love with a religious zealot ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
didn't really enjoy this getting in so binned reading the series. ( )
  Nergal | Jan 24, 2016 |
Interesting concept, but the characters weren't interesting enough to draw me into reading the next in the series. ( )
  PerpetualRevision | Oct 25, 2015 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Rescued from the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, feisty little Mendoza is enrolled in a special school and becomes a cyborg agent of The Company, a group of immortal merchants and scientists who travel backwards in time in order to make money for The Company and to benefit mankind in various ways.

Mendoza is educated and trained as a botanist and, for her first mission, she’s sent back to 16th century Europe to document and study samples from the famous Garden of Iden in England. She’s hoping to discover some extinct or rare species that she can analyze for medical use by future scientists.

Undercover as a Spaniard, at first Mendoza is afraid of the people she meets and despises them for their ignorance, brutishness, and lack of hygiene. But soon she discovers that some of them are not so bad, and then she even makes the mistake of falling in love with a mortal — an English Protestant mortal.

Set both in the 24th and 16th centuries, In the Garden of Iden (the first of Kage Baker’s The Company novels) is a unique historical science fiction romance. The metaphysics of time-travel and how The Company operates in time are clearly laid out (e.g., agents can’t bring anything into the future, but they can hide things in the past and recover them later), making the time-travel aspect of the story believable. Bloody Mary’s England makes a great backdrop for a historical novel — the Protestant Reformation is fascinating history and allows the exploration of racial, political, and religious conflict. It also makes a romance between a Spanish woman and an English man interesting — not to mention a romance between a human and a cyborg — although I thought Mendoza’s relationship developed too fast to be completely believable and satisfying. The climactic scene in which the English Protestant defends his faith in the face of persecution, and Mendoza starts to wonder if immortality is really such a blessing, is truly beautiful and moving.

What I liked best about In the Garden of Iden was the premise of The Company, which is run by the mysterious Dr. Zeus. Nobody seems to know who he is. Does he even exist? What are The Company’s plans and goals? Do they know what they’re doing or how their interference might change the future? I can’t wait to find out more.

I listened to Blackstone Audio’s production of In the Garden of Iden, which was narrated by Janan Raouf. It was a lovely performance, though sometimes I could not be certain whether the cyborg characters were speaking to each other out loud or on their special “channel” that only cyborgs can hear (this is indicated in italics in the book). It would have been nice to have some indication of that (perhaps a bit of static in the background?), but I was able to figure it out. I do hope that Blackstone Audio will be producing more of Kage Baker’s The Company novels. ( )
2 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
In the Garden of Iden is Kage Baker's debut novel of "The Company." It's a science fiction novel set in the 1550s, during the reign in Britain of Queen Mary. Baker's fluid style is a joy to read and her transformation from "modern" English to Renaissance and back to modern is wonderful. This is a marvelous debut and I can't wait to read more in the series.
Right off, the title lets you know that this is a story about loss of innocence. If you're one of those people who are put off by obvious metaphors, don't let that stop you from reading this book. It manages to be quite funny and terrifying at the same time.

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kage Bakerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canty, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my mother, Katherine Carmichael Baker,
and her mother, Kate Jeffreys Carmichael,
and for Athene Mihalakis,
a Gray-Eyed Goddess if ever there was one.
First words
I am a botanist. I will write down the story of my life as an exercise, to provide the illusion of conversation in this place where I am now alone. It will be a long story, because it was a long road that brought me here, and it led through blazing Spain and green, green England and ever so many centuries of Time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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