Well written, interesting, ambituous. About immortals among us...
I did not expect to be able to count The Graveyard Game for my challenge; I thought I had filled all the categories this series could fill. However, Baker makes a dramatic change to her series in this volume, and that change opened up a new category for me: she dropped the first-person narration and switched to third-person omniscient, so that she could follow both Lewis and Joseph as they took their diverging paths to finding the truth about Mendoza and the other operatives that have gone missing through the ages.
Lewis was a very minor character in Sky Coyote; no one will ever rival Joseph as my favorite character in this series, but Lewis was a nice addition to the mix, being very different from both Mendoza and Joseph. While Mendoza is passionate and self-centered and Joseph is cynical and a delightful mix of self-aware and self-deluding, Lewis is a gentle soul, artistic and romantic and not at all concerned with (or a concern of) the larger issues of Company politics and the Silence. He has also been quietly in love with Mendoza for centuries, so when he starts to get wind that something nefarious is connected with her disappearance, he forces Joseph to let him help.
This novel serves as a bridge between the first three Company novels, which were very narrowly focused around specific events, and the rest of series, which looks to be shaping up into a large, millennia-spanning epic. It also serves to move us very quickly from 1996 forward all the way to 2276, less than 80 years before the Silence that has caused such consternation among all the different factions in the Company. We get glimpses of the multitude of disasters that has depopulated the Earth and created the very childlike, Puritannical mortals we met in Sky Coyote; but Baker's focus is not on the world-building but on her characters. As Lewis gets more and more wrapped up in his investigation of who Edward Alton-Bell Fairfax was, Joseph is forced to confront all those things he had willfully blinded himself to for so long. The sections in his narration are the strongest of the book the same way Sky Coyote is the strongest volume in the series -- unfortunately, they are short enough that they can be set off in italics without risking eyestrain.
This volume does its job well, filling us in on all sorts of stuff Mendoza isn't aware of, but it isn't as emotionally satisfying as earlier volumes. It feels like a transition book, and should be read as such -- valuable in the information it provides, but not capable of standing on its own in any way. Those that have been titillated by the hints dropped in the previous three books about the Company will start getting their answers here, but those that enjoyed the previous three books for their narrow focus on individual characters and events may think that this is the point where the series jumps the shark.
The 4th (I think) book of the Company. Joseph and Lewis search for Mendoza as the Silence draws closer. Baker continues to flesh out the history (past) of her charaters, while moving the action into the future for the first time.
The 'Company' stories all deal with the idea that, in the 24th century, a company learns how to send people back in time. To creat agents for itself, it takes children of a part time period and turns them into immortal cyborgs, who work for them on missions such as saving 'lost' artworks and extinct species, hiding them safely so that they can be 'rediscovered' in the 24th century.
It's all very noble on the face of it, but as time goes on, the Company's motivations and methods begin to seem more suspect to many of the agents. Do the people of the 24th century really appreciate what they've done? What will happen when the agent finally 'get' to that century? Why does no one ever receive any communications or supplies from later than the year 2355? What Happens?
The series is very slow-moving, in some ways, because although the focal point of the series is the cyborg botanist Mendoza, some of the books look at events from other points of view and other characters. So although the stories themselves might be full of action, the larger picture hasn't developed very quickly.
In 'The Graveyard Game,' Mendoza doesn't actually appear at all. As a matter of fact, she's disappeared. Her two friends, Joseph (who recruited her into the Company) and Lewis, are determined to find out what has happened to her. It starts a bit slowly, but as they gradually uncover rumors and plots and schemes within plots, the tension picks up. It's not just Mendoza - it looks like a lot of agents are disappearing. And whatever happened to the 'old' style of Company agent - the 'Enforcers.' They were supposedly immortal as well - yet they seem to be gone. Where are they? Is the Company disposing of its own people? Or is there a rogue faction within the Company? Or is a hostile outside force at work?