Customer Reviews for

In the Garden of Iden (The Company Series #1)

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted January 22, 2012

    Richly inventive and great fun!

    This novel was the starting point Ms Baker used to build a rich and complicated fictional universe filled with corporate ruthlessness and greed masking itself as idealism, time travel, cyborgs, and immortality. She knew a lot about the Elizabethan world into which she drops her vivid characters. Although you can pick up the series in one of the later books and figure out what's going on without much trouble (she always tried to provide enough back story to orient her readers) this is a marvelous tale of futuristic characters journeying through a vanished world. Besides, cyborg girl meets sexy Elizabethan boy? What could be better than that?

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  • Posted December 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

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    Rough around the edges, but promisingly delightful.

    My first encounter with Kage Baker was a short story in the anthology Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy. Her contribution was the highlight of that collection for me, a brightly polished gem of a story small in scope and warmly, wonderfully knowing. On the strength of that story alone I decided I would love the author.

    This was my first novel by Baker and her first novel as well, and if it was not quite as brightly polished as the short story (which was, after all, written a decade later) it still maintained all the wit, warmth and wisdom.

    The premise has rightfully drawn comparisons to Connie Willis' Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. The first chapter, which works as a sort of prologue, introducing The Company and its operatives, is a delight. I especially like the idea that time travel was invented as a byproduct of their invention of immortality, to test whether or not the process worked. But regular SF readers be warned: the first chapter is the only major SF world-building that occurs in this novel. I suspect there is more in later books in the series, but the focus of this novel is much smaller: it is a romance and a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of Queen Mary's marriage to Prince Philip of Spain and the subsequent Marian Persecutions in England.

    There is very little to like about the young Company agent Mendoza. She is spunky, clearly, but also despises humanity and is supremely self-centered. She is, in short, a teenager. Smartly, the Mendoza that narrates the story is much older and wiser, and even if her wry, sardonic tone isn't groundbreaking, it is still very effective. Needless to say, the story Mendoza relates is the story of how she lost that self-centeredness and fell in love with one of the despised humans.

    All of those elements, would fit nicely in a Connie Willis novel, and the story moves with ease between the lighthearted tone of To Say Nothing of the Dog and the darker, richer tone of The Doomsday Book. The love interest, Nicholas Harpole, however, would have absolutely no place in a Connie Willis novel -- he is cast from a mold that reminded me very strongly of Father Ignatius in Louisa May Alcott's A Long Fatal Love Chase. Harpole is a martyr, a soldier of god, and he aches to save his beloved's immortal soul -- little knowing her immortal body has already been bought and paid for by The Company. While I share Joseph's evaluation of Harpole far more than Mendoza's, the couple's plight delivers excellent narrative tension, matched nicely by the increasingly grim news reports the Company agents listen to on their subvocal radio. I spent the entire second half of the novel waiting for the guillotine to fall, and when it did I read breathlessly through to the end.

    Ultimately, while In the Garden of Iden was not as good as either Connie Willis novel I mentioned, it showed great promise as the start of a series. I'll admit that I cheated and looked at the descriptions of the other books, so I know a bit of where the series is going -- it looks like there will be quite a bit more world-building in later novels, for instance -- but I think even if I did not know that, and if I hadn't loved that short story so much, on the strength of this novel Kage Baker would still have made my "buy immediately" list. Absolutely recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2008


    I picked up this book because of some recommendations from friends on Shelfari. I was greatly disappointed! This book starts out so well, describing the Company, time travel and immortality and then goes to Spain in the 1500's where a little girl (Mendoza) is rescued from the Inquisition and put in a 'special program' with other children. They are trained and receive a number of surgeries that transform them into Cyborgs. The book then goes downhill from there as Mendoza is sent on her task to work in 1500's England during the end of Queen 'Bloody' Mary's reign. From there it is painfully dull and very difficult to finish. What also made this book difficult was that the vast infrastructure that was set up underground in the 1500's is very unbelievable. This book is definately not on my recommended list!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    A Good Idea Wasted

    The idea behind the book is that 'the Company' places their operatives back in time to save life and valuable works of art before they are destroyed or become extinct. It's a very interesting idea and has a lot of potential. However, as soon as our main character is sent to her first posting (less than 1/4 the way into the book) it quickly turns into a romance novel. Character development falls by the wayside to make room for the young couple to flirt and run around. A few quick references are all that remains of the science fiction book I though I was going to read. I hope that the other books in the series can stick to good character development and take advantage of the concept behind the story - instead of turning into the dimestore romance novel this book turned out to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2000

    Bright New Talent Found in Good Company

    In the Garden of Iden introduces us to Kage Baker, a uniquely original new talent in science fiction. Baker has crafted an intriguing premise for time travel -- a company, Dr. Zeus, in the 24th century discovers that movement through time is possible, but objects from the past cannot be brought forward. To make time travel profitable the company sends operatives back in time, finds children and performs operations and indoctrination to turn them into immortal cyborgs dedicated to the preservation of materials which will be of value in the future. These valuables are stashed away in caches to be 'rediscovered' in the 24th century, to the financial benefit of the Company. The book tells the story of Mendoza, a child rescued from the 16th century dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, and transformed into an immortal who specializes in botany. Her first posting is in Reformation England during the time of Queen Mary Tudor, a catholic queen who persecuted her Protestant subjects. Baker's command of the history of the time is laudable; she captures the nuances of Tudor society and deftly shows the depth of the religious feeling which was tearing apart a continent. She cleverly juxtaposes 16th century life with the technological sophistication of the operatives of the Company, who perform their collection duties supported by an infrastructure which allows them access to advanced computers, futuristic medical procedures and an eclectic array of radio entertainment. Mendoza's first foray into love serves to propel the action of this thoroughly engrossing novel. Baker shows an especially apt hand at humor, a particular strength of all her writing. I highly recommend this wonderful first novel in a highly imaginative series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2011

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    Posted November 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2010

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