In the Garden of Iden (The Company #1)
by Kage Baker
Book Reaction (not a full review)
When I discovered Kage Baker about a decade ago, I devoured her Anvil of the World series in less than a fortnight. But my library's collection of her Company series was far less complete. I think the only book it had was Mendoza in Hollywood. I've always meant to go back and read about the origins of the Company, but I find the idea of immortality so gut-wrenchingly depressing that I never quite got around to it.
But as I was searching around aimlessly during my free trial of Scribd, I noticed that they had the first book, In the Garden of Iden, on audio. I'm always looking for new audiobooks, so I snatched it up. I'm not sure how I feel about the narration, but it wasn't too hard to ignore it and focus on the book itself. Baker is a hypnotically readable writer, and I was sucked into the story and the drama and the suspense, even though the ending was clear from the outset.
The first novel of the Company is slow-paced and reflective. It tells the story of how Mendoza became one of the Company's immortal cyborg workers, as well as the origins of the Company itself. Mendoza's adventure begins in Medieval Spain. As the story continues, Mendoza ends up providing an interesting perspective on the reign of Mary and the rise of Elizabeth. The majority of the novel deals with Mendoza's first romance during her time in England, and I have to admit that I found that aspect a bit tiresome. Even though the story is told in retrospect by an ageless being, Mendoza's voice has all the naivete and passion and drama that only youth can carry. Baker's humorous asides are present, if sparser than in her later books. The core of the novel, however, is a castigation of close-minded extremism and fanaticism in all of its forms. In the garden of Iden, passionate and rigid faith is as dangerous as its absence in Eden.