Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

I hadn't heard about In the Garden of Iden (1997) by Kage Baker, the first of The Company series, until I saw it on Overdrive. I found it a very original, intelligent book with clever concepts and a lot of period detail.

Audio publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2011
Length: 11h 29m; Grade: 4

A historical science fiction romance, In the Garden of Iden is a book of The Company, a group of scientists who use time travel to recruit children in past eras and develop them into agents. In the Garden of Iden follows one of The Company's agents as she is recruited from the Spanish Inquisition at age four, completes The Company training, and goes on her first field assignment to England during the Protestant Reformation and Bloody Mary's reign.

 In the Garden of Iden is primarily a 16th century romance. The main character is 17 and acts annoyingly young at times, but with themes of free will vs duty, zealotry vs conviction, and slavery vs death, In the Garden of Iden is not a light book. Comparisons to The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis cannot be avoided. Both deal with limited time travel by a select group of people. Both have rules that travelers should remain aloof from locals, and both deal with the complications that arise when they don't. In the Garden of Iden is more grounded in history since agents live through the past in real time instead of jumping back and forth.

I loved the time-travel premise of this series and am looking forward to reading other books that follow different agents through different time periods and provide more details on the shady practices of The Company.

Reading - Janan Raouf puts a lot into what has to be a difficult book to read. It was certainly a difficult book to listen to due to all of the accents. The main character is from Spain and thinks in unaccented English but speaks with a heavy Spanish accent. The other travelers also speak in Spanish accents while the locals use Elizabethan English. Occasionally characters use Latin or Greek. I found these sections easier since they were read as unaccented English.

Nums - The boredom the travelers felt in their down time and lengths they went to sneak their anachronistic magazines and holo-cubes was spot on, taking me back to my Peace Corps days.

Nits - The time travelers cannot change "recorded history," but what does that mean? Do diary entries count?
The reader pronounced the word "pasty" wrong, which happens all the times in audio books, and makes me laugh every time.

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