This third novel in the Company series reverts to Mendoza's first-person narration, and the transition did not go entirely smoothly. Mendoza is still far more self-centered than Joseph, and that comes through her narration. We saw in Sky Coyote that Joseph wants her that way because he fears for her safety, but after being in the head of a character who is constantly paying attention to those around him and to events at large it's frustrating to come crashing back to Mendoza bitterness, self-pity, and deliberately narrow focus.
That shift in perspective made the first third of the book relatively rough going for me. Baker's writing style is still a trifly obvious, and there were no perfect moments as there were in Sky Coyote to make up for the downsides. So I spent my time instead wondering at the gender roles that are shaping up in the series and being a little put off. Of the two first-person narrators, obviously Joseph is the more well-rounded, adult character; but if you're going to have a male narrator and a female narrator in a parent-child relationship, obviously one of them has to be more adult and it might not mean anything that Baker chose the male to be the parent. But unfortunately (for me at least), those same character traits are given to another pair of male and female characters in this novel: Porifirio is the sort of operative who deals with being an immortal by watching out for the other immortals in his care and is justifiably wary of the Company while Imarte has retreated from the trauma of living an immortal life among mortals into a ferociously narrow focus on her work.
However, just as I was beginning to be really annoyed by Baker's female characters, the action picked up a bit and I was reminded of what was so enthralling about Mendoza's narrative in In the Garden of Iden. The few things that Mendoza lets herself care about she cares about passionately, and that gives her narrative more tension than Joseph's ever had in Sky Coyote, because whether it's the wild beauty of unsettled California or her beloved soulmate, both we the readers and Mendoza herself know that she is destined for heartbreak. It took much longer than I expected for Mendoza's Englishman to appear on the scene, but once he did I raced to the conclusion breathlessly, and once the book was finished I wanted to immediately pick up the next one.
There is just one other thing that bothers me about this installment of the novels of the Company: I'm now three books in and the damned story hasn't started yet! This is why I tend to avoid long series' like the plague. . . delightful though these three books have been, there is still the sense that they are merely the opening act of some great epic, and I am getting rather impatient to get to that epic. Luckily for me, I do believe the action commences in the next book; even luckier I think it returns to Joseph's narration. Needless to say, I will be picking it up as soon as possible.
Further adventures of Company agent Mendoza. Great series.
I was afraid that, due to the title, this was going to talk overmuch about movies (books that get all meta- about film and media really annoy me - it's a personal thing). But the 'Hollywood' in this case is a good deal before the time of the silver screen - the botanist Mendoza has been assigned to this stretch of country in 1862, studying the native flora and saving anything that might be valuable to her bosses in the future. Still traumatized by the martyrdom of her human lover Nicholas, she is at first bemused and then, willy-nilly, head over heels when she meets a British spy who looks exactly like her lost love.
Full of quirky, unique characters and humor and well as poignancy.
Wonderful book. Second book in Kage Baker's "the Company" time travel series, following In the Garden of Iden. Heroine Mendoza (who had been rescued from the Inquisition in book 1) is assigned with a team to California in 1800's. She meets a man who reminds her of her lost love from book 1, with violent results.
In this series, the Company creates immortal cyborgs out of suitable children, and sends them back in time to preserve priceless treasures or doomed species, or secrete them where they will be found by the Company centuries later. But who benefits, and what is the purpose? The mystery is revealed bit by bit over the course of the Company series.
#3 in the "Company" series, which is a time-traveling sci-fi fantasy series set pretty much everywhere in history. Mendoza, a botanist, travels through time collecting plant specimens that are going to become extinct to save them in a repository for Dr. Zeus, Inc., aka The Company, an all-powerful entity from some time in the future. Human children, usually orphaned, are chosen and made into immortal cyborg-types and perform these various feats for the Company all over the world in various times.
Mendoza is in 1863 in this book, in the place where Hollywood will eventually be built. Encamped with several other Company staff in the still-desolate Hollywood Hills, Mendoza comes across a man who is a dead ringer for her former mortal lover, Nicholas Harpole. This man proves to be a British spy who is attempting to take over Catalina Island for some reason. Since Mendoza already knows what happens in the future, and since history cannot be changed, she knows that he never becomes famous and that England's attempted takeover fails--but she has to live through it to find out how and just what happened. Disobeying Company orders to help him, she puts herself in mortal danger although she knows this is a misnomer because she is immortal.
The book is Mendoza telling her story under the influence of Theobromos (chocolate) which is akin to a mind-altering drug for the immortals. I enjoy this unconventional time travel series and was very sorry to hear that the author died earlier this year of cancer. Now I will have to portion the rest of the series books out to make them last!