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In the Garden of Iden    by Kage Baker order for
In the Garden of Iden
by Kage Baker
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 1998 (1997)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

In the Garden of Iden is the first novel in the series about the Dr. Zeus Company; the second, Sky Coyote and third, Mendoza in Hollywood, have already been reviewed here. The author's time travel rationale hangs well enough together that the novels could equally well be classified as Science Fiction, but the backgrounds are so carefully researched and meticulously drawn that they could also be classified as Historical Fiction.

The principal character and narrator of this book is Mendoza, who appears also in Sky Coyote, and is the principal character in Mendoza in Hollywood. She appears first as a small child, a victim of the Spanish Inquisition, but is rescued by a Company facilitator, Joseph, and immortalized. Grown up and trained as a botanist, she poses as the daughter of Joseph, the Spanish Doctor Don Ruy Anzolabejar. Mendoza travels to England with Joseph and visits the manor of Sir Walter Iden, whose garden contains many rare and soon to be extinct species of plant which it is her responsibility to preserve for the benefit of the Company.

Here she meets Nicholas Harpole who is a pious Protestant, a very dangerous thing to be in the reign of Bloody Mary. Against all her instincts, and contrary to the strict rules of the Company, Mendoza falls in love with Nicholas, which sets the stage for the inevitable tragedy. Baker's intimate knowledge of the history and culture of sixteenth century England is used to provide a vivid portrait of manor life, and her characterizations, even of minor actors, are robust, colourful and complex. The story is told with sparkling wit, and surprising compassion. An exceptional first novel, and a harbinger of great things to come.

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