Facilitator Joseph has outlasted entire civilizations during his twenty-thousand years of service to Dr. Zeus, the twenty-fourth century Company that created immortal operatives like him to preserve history and culture. The year is 1699 and Joseph is now in Alta California, to imitate an ancient Native-American Coyote god, and save the native Chumash from the white Europeans.He has the help of the Botanist Mendoza, who hasn’t gotten over the death of her lover Nicholas, in Elizabethan England.
Lately though, Joseph has started to have a few doubts about The Company. There are whispers about the year 2355, about operatives that suddenly go missing. Time is running out for Joseph, which is ironic considering he’s immortal, but no one ever said that it was easy being a god.
This was another great novel in everyone’s favorite series featuring time travel and cyborgs. Not going to lie, I’m starting to think that the Company series is going to eventually become one my favorites, the kind that I always want to have at least some sort of presence in my life. I’ll probably also being a ton of evangelizing, seeing as no one I’ve talked to about this series has even heard of it.
The time jump is a reasonably steep one. It’s now 1700 in an area of California where the Spanish haven’t come over yet and the Chumash Indians are living life as normal, although there are a couple of hints that they’ll will be arriving soon. Joseph, Mendoza’s mentor from the previous book, is the protagonist this time around. The Company’s orders are to save an entire village of the Chumash and everything about them – the people, langague, customs, tools, religious beliefs – by transporting them into the future. Jospeh’s job is to dress up as one of their gods, Sky Coyote, in order to prepare them for what’s about to happen and successfully convince them to leave everything behind to go along with him and the Company agents.
As a protagonist, Joseph has quite a different temperament than Mendoza. For one thing, he’s thousand and thousands of years older than she is. He’s been working for the Company longer than most, and the way he’s surivived is through viewing everything through a shield of sardonicism and wit. Even more so than the previous book, anything is up for grabs when it comes to poking fun at convention and attitudes of thinking. His attitude and way of speaking is so laid-back and colloquial that it was disconverting for a couple of chapters, as I was more used to Mendoza’s more polished manner of speaking. I do prefer Mendoza to Joseph when it came to who I thought was a better protagonist, simply because she’s a whole lot younger and experiences more life-changing things, but Joseph was perfectly acceptable. Pretending to be Sky Coyote suits him; he definitely has the irreverent, trickster attitude down pat.
Still, all that dry humor is a coping mechanism to keep him doing his job and not thinking too hard about the holes and inconsistencies popping up when it comes to the Company’s ultimate agenda. More clues are revealed that information is being withheld from the agents. They aren’t allowed access to any information or media after 2355 – they know nothing about what shape the world is in beyond that point in time. With the way this particular operation is being run, more agents are beginning to question how powerful or benevolent the Company truly is and what ulterior motives they might have. If he wanted to, Joseph could fit the pieces together, but he’s not sure if he’ll ever allow himself to do so.
Once again, the historical world-building is fantastic. The Chumash’s village and way of life was depicted with a great amount of scope and detail. I liked how the Chumash weren’t made out to be these mystical, spiritually evolved beings and that they’d speak and view the world in a mystical, spiritually evolved manner. They’re written as real people who argue over money, enjoy hilarious stories about Sky Coyote’s mishaps with his penis, and live regular, boring lives. I’m starting to get sad because soon the chronology of the books will catch up with the present and start takng place in the future, and I’ve really been enjoying the stories taking place against a historical backdrop. Kage Baker does history so well! Hopefully she does the future with the same amount of skill.
As I said, it’s only taken two books for me to begin considering adding these books to my bookshelves permenantly. They’re like nothing I’ve read in quite a while. They’re inventive, clever, engaging, and so much fun to read. Mendoza, and to a lesser extent Joseph, are appealing protagonists who carry the story forward really well. Thankfully, the local library already has the third book on the shelves, so I can go pick it up immediately next time I’m there.
Disclosure – library