First in the fantasy/time travel/sci-fi series featuring The Company, this book tells the story of Botanist Mendoza, one of the immortals sent back in time to England during the reign of Bloody Mary. A nobleman in Kent has a small garden where he collects rare plants--plants which will eventually become extinct, and which The Company wishes Mendoza to collect samples from and replicate so that sometime in the future they can be reintroduced to nature. This is what The Company does. What they do not count on is nineteen-year-old Mendoza falling in love with the assistant at the gardens. This is her first assignment and while she's been assured that it's fine to have sex with mortals, getting really involved with them can be messy. Which it assuredly turns out to be in this case. This book smashes genre classification--it's wonderful historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, time travel with a little romance, too--and the romance was well-done, else I'd not have tolerated it. LOL What a totally bizarre and interesting premise for a series! Well-written, interesting characters, an appealing writing style and very difficult to put down. Will definitely be looking for more in the series.
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.
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.