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In the Garden of Iden (The Company) Paperback – December 27, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Baker's witty debut novel is a pip. Full of exquisite descriptions of 16th-century England and the Spanish Inquisition (Baker was an actor and director at the Living History Centre and has taught Elizabethan English as a second language), this is a bittersweet tale of a young woman's first love. The initial assignment for 18-year-old Mendoza, transformed into an immortal cyborg by the 24th-century Company, is to retrieve from Renaissance England an endangered plant that cures cancer. Posing as a Spanish lady accompanying her doctor father, she falls in love with the mortal Nicholas Harpole, secretary to the owner of Iden Hall and its exotic gardens. Amidst the raging Catholic/Protestant powerplays revolving around the English throne and the fervent religious bloodlust of common folk, Mendoza is torn between her task and her love. Baker's story comments powerfully on religious hypocrisy and xenophobia. Highly recommended for most collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Company (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765314576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765314574
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on January 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Time travel is nothing new to science fiction. Even the idea of people travelling through time to preserve (or to try to alter) the timeline of the world is not new to science fiction. The idea of hiding in the shadows of history to preserve that which would otherwise be lost, though...
I was really impressed with the premise of "In the Garden of Iden". I thought the idea of a company that could make employees of 'indigenous' people and send them along ('along' mind you, not 'through') history to preserve plants, animals, art works, etc. only as long as they did not change history in the process to be a neat, if not revolutionary idea. Baker pulls off the idea quite well to in this book. She gives us a good feel of history unfolding while the characters of the book go about their mission in a country that's teetering on the verge of a new dark age just before it's greatest era begins.
The science in the book is well-researched. The history in the book is very well researched. Even the romance manages to push the reader into an interesting parallax between love and practicality. Surprisingly enough, the one thing that bothered me about the novel was the stipulation in the premise that people sent back couldn't change "recorded history". I found myself wondering what constitutes 'recorded history'. We as a race have so much difficulty sorting the fact from the lie and the myth in our 'recorded' history - even in the past century - that I wondered how valid an argument this could be. Perhaps it's an idea that she'll pursue in a later "Company" novel. I'd be interested to see what she could do with it...
All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. I blew through it like I haven't blown through a science fiction novel in a long time.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on September 29, 2003
Format: Library Binding
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.
I've loved Kage Baker's work ever since I read her stories in the various Year's Best Fantasy books, and I was eager to dive into a novel written by her. It was definitely worth the wait. Her prose style is wonderful and she seamlessly changes dialogue depending on who's talking, thus giving us the dialect of the time alongside the modern phrasings of a group of cyborgs honed by time travelers. I'm not expert enough to tell whether or not she gets the Renaissance dialogue right, but she certainly makes it feel right. It really makes you feel like you are there listening.
Another thing Baker avoids, for the most part, is making the romance cloying. While there were a few times where Mendoza and Nicholas became annoyingly written, most of the time this was turned on its head by a choice comment from Joseph (the leader of the expedition and Mendoza's recruiter) or something else happening. She doesn't overwrite the romance scenes and she deftly "fades to black" when the sex scenes are about to start. Thus, while the novel definitely has some adult themes, there are no actual scenes that should keep kids away from the book. Instead, she writes two adults who love each other deeply but know that there are some serious potential problems that might get in the way of that love.
The concept of the Company is very interesting.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sesho on January 20, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Before I picked up this book I had pretty much been down on my luck when it came to reading a decent sci-fi novel. Like any genre, most of the books are not written well and it's sometimes hard to find the few authors that are good. I finally hit the jackpot with Kage Baker and boy, was I relieved.
In the 24th century a company known as Dr. Zeus has discovered not only the means to time travel but also the secret of immortality. Whether it was right to do so or no, it used its time travel capibility to effect events in the past so that in the 24th century, the company rules the world. There were some scientists that had signed on to the venture with the understanding that time travel would be used to help mankind. In an effort to do this the business types at Dr. Zeus go back to different time periods and create immortal agents from humans of the time. The mission of these agents is to save valuable cultural artifacts that would otherwise be lost forever.
Flash backward to 1500's Spain in the height of the Spanish Inquisition. A nameless child of an impoverished mother is imprisoned wrongfully and is set to be tortured. An agent shows up offering her freedom. She takes it. She becomes known as Mendoza and enters the process of becoming immortal. The agents are in actuality cyborgs who are stronger and faster than a human. I thought it was really cool that while the world goes about its business there is a secret society of immortals carrying on their business in underground facilities, or in remote areas. Their business being to preserve some of man's and nature's lost treasures.
Mendoza is sent to England and the Garden of Sir Walter Iden who is famous for having the most extensive samples of flora in the world.
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