01/04/2005. Contributed by Paul Hanley
pub: TOR. 298 page enlarged paperback. Price: $14.95 (US), $21.95 (CAN). ISBN: 0-765-31184-4.
check out website: www.tor.com
This is apparently the fourth book in a series about an organisation, Dr Zeus Incorporated, which operates agents across time. I have not read the earlier books and whilst I quite enjoyed this one I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the earlier books first as various characters clearly had a previous history with each other which I could only guess at.
In essence, in the 24th century, Dr Zeus Incorporated discovered both time travel and immortality. These gifts had certain limitations so could not be bestowed on everyone but it did mean the organisation could send people into the past to loot for their corporate profit. They also recruited staff from earlier times such as Mendoza who was rescued as a child from the sixteenth century and the dungeons of the Inquisition. In return, she worked for the Company (as the time travelling organisation is known by its operatives), saving rare plants from future extinction. It would seem that, in an earlier book, she killed 6 people whilst operating in the mid-nineteenth century American West and as punishment has been 'disappeared' by the Company. The fellow immortal who recruited her, Joseph, looks upon her as a daughter and is determined to find her despite all the difficulties including a virtually permanent high-tech surveillance he and his fellow immortals are subjected to by their future mortal masters.
This particular story is the unravelling by Joseph and another immortal, Lewis, of what has happened to Mendoza and also why none of the communications any of them has received is dated after 2355.
Gradually, they begin to discover information about the company and its activities. Warrior operatives Joseph knew long ago, when the Roman Empire held sway, are found in a cave in tanks in a form of coma or suspended animation. Joseph had been told they had been re-trained.
Our two detectives gradually uncover all sorts clues and information about what is going on and this works quite well as a mystery. Kage Baker writes skilfully and brings her scenes to life to create a believable world for the time travellers, immortals and so forth. By the end of the book, some of what has gone on has been revealed but I do not think enough was and I was mildly disappointed. It may be all will finally be revealed in a sequel.
All in all, quite an interesting book. It is well-written but I do not think the ending had sufficient punch. I might try and look out for the earlier books in the series, but probably get them through the public library.
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