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Take a ride through time with the devil. In the sixth book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator General Labienus. He's used his immortal centuries to plot a complete takeover of the world since he was a young god-figure in Sumeria. In a meditative mood, he reviews his interesting career. He muses on his subversion of the Company black project ADONAI. He con Take a ride through time with the devil. In the sixth book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator General Labienus. He's used his immortal centuries to plot a complete takeover of the world since he was a young god-figure in Sumeria. In a meditative mood, he reviews his interesting career. He muses on his subversion of the Company black project ADONAI. He considers also Aegeus, his despised rival for power, who has discovered and captured a useful race of mortals known as Homo sapiens umbratilis. Their unique talents may enable him to seize ultimate power. Labienus plans a double cross that will kill two birds with one stone: he will woo away Aegeus's promising protege, the Facilitator Victor, and at the same time dispose of a ghost from his own past who has become inconvenient. The Hugo-nominated novella "Son Observe The Time," telling that part of the story, is included here in its entirety. Fans of the series will love this book, and new readers will be enthralled.


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Take a ride through time with the devil. In the sixth book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator General Labienus. He's used his immortal centuries to plot a complete takeover of the world since he was a young god-figure in Sumeria. In a meditative mood, he reviews his interesting career. He muses on his subversion of the Company black project ADONAI. He con Take a ride through time with the devil. In the sixth book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator General Labienus. He's used his immortal centuries to plot a complete takeover of the world since he was a young god-figure in Sumeria. In a meditative mood, he reviews his interesting career. He muses on his subversion of the Company black project ADONAI. He considers also Aegeus, his despised rival for power, who has discovered and captured a useful race of mortals known as Homo sapiens umbratilis. Their unique talents may enable him to seize ultimate power. Labienus plans a double cross that will kill two birds with one stone: he will woo away Aegeus's promising protege, the Facilitator Victor, and at the same time dispose of a ghost from his own past who has become inconvenient. The Hugo-nominated novella "Son Observe The Time," telling that part of the story, is included here in its entirety. Fans of the series will love this book, and new readers will be enthralled.

30 review for The Children of the Company

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    Remember mortals, two stars is defined as "It was ok" by GoodReads. That's exactly what The Children of the Company was--ok. First, as I was looking for the publication date, I noticed that it has several previously-published short stories worked into it. That explains why it seemed like one of those sitcom flashback episodes where the characters look back on different events and each one has a favorite story. It also explains why it delves into characters who are either minor characters or nonex Remember mortals, two stars is defined as "It was ok" by GoodReads. That's exactly what The Children of the Company was--ok. First, as I was looking for the publication date, I noticed that it has several previously-published short stories worked into it. That explains why it seemed like one of those sitcom flashback episodes where the characters look back on different events and each one has a favorite story. It also explains why it delves into characters who are either minor characters or nonexistent in the rest of the series. (I have read the two books that come after this and they don't have larger parts coming up.) My two favorite scenes were the one with Lewis in 5th Century Ireland and Victor during the San Fransisco earthquake of 1906. Both storylines had been alluded to in prior novels in the series, so they did offer some clarification. As much as I like Latif, the story centering on him really didn't add anything to the overall Company universe. Overall, I found this book to be an unnecessary addition to the Company series. It provides very little that brings anything forward to The Life of the World to Come (I see that GoodReads has this as book #5, but other lists have it after The Children of the Company) or The Machine's Child. I probably would have enjoyed it much more as a short story collection rather than as a patchwork novel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    REREAD #1: 9 April 2018 - 14 April 2018 (9/10) I was going to write something new and hopefully interesting here, but when I reread what I wrote in my review last time, I realised that I've said it already. So I'm going to be lazy and, if you're here to discover my thoughts, I'll just ask you to scroll down and read what I wrote last time. ORIGINAL READ: 10 July 2007 - 11 July 2007 (9/10) Take a ride through time with the devil. In this book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator Gene REREAD #1: 9 April 2018 - 14 April 2018 (9/10) I was going to write something new and hopefully interesting here, but when I reread what I wrote in my review last time, I realised that I've said it already. So I'm going to be lazy and, if you're here to discover my thoughts, I'll just ask you to scroll down and read what I wrote last time. ORIGINAL READ: 10 July 2007 - 11 July 2007 (9/10) Take a ride through time with the devil. In this book of the Company series, we meet Executive Facilitator General Labienus. He's used his immortal centuries to plot a complete takeover of the world since he was a young god-figure in Sumeria. In a meditative mood, he reviews his interesting career. He muses on his subversion of the Company black project ADONAI. He considers also Aegeus, his despised rival for power, who has discovered and captured a useful race of mortals known as Homo sapiens umbratilis. Their unique talents may enable him to seize ultimate power. ----------------------------------------------- I wasn't sure if I was going to like this entry in Kage Baker's brilliant series. I was expecting it to be a story told with Labienus as the protagonist (I certainly wouldn't call him a hero) and since he's not exactly a nice guy, or doing nice things, I didn't have any particular need to climb inside his head. Instead, Labienus and his machinations are the thread that holds the book together, but it is really closer to a collection of short stories that let us in on the "other side" of mysteries and events we've already encountered in the earlier books in the series. As such, it is totally unsuitable to be read as a book on its own, but for anyone following the tales of Dr Zeus Inc. it's actually a brilliant addition. Among other things, we find out what really happened to Lewis in Ireland, how Victor defeated Budu in San Franciso as the earthquake began to rumble under the ground and get another glimpse into the "childhood" of Latif. I also understand Edward a lot better than I did before. I still don't like him, but I understand him better. The story that caught my heart most was the one that told us what actually happened to Kalugin, who until this was missing and presumed (by the reader at least) to be the victim of foul play. Both proved to be true in a clever, sad little story. I hope Kalugin gets rescued by the end of the series, and I rather suspect he was never cut out to be an immortal. But as Mendoza's fate has shown us, making an inappropriate person immortal is a mistake that can't be undone. The saddest tale is that of Hendrick Karremans, the Recombinant mentioned briefly by Joseph in The Graveyard Game, and his short life and death. It was beautifully written, narrated by Victor, who I think may prove to be more of a loose cannon than anyone suspected. Baker has done it again, exactly when I didn't expect her to. She writes in styles that really shouldn't work and pulls it off. I remain entranced. The Children of the Company Kage Baker 9/10 [Copied from LibraryThing.]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    I loved the first book in this series, but the rest of them have been uneven, and this book was another disappointment. There are a few good scenes, but for the most part I was simply uninterested in the story that was being told. The writing is quite good and the characters themselves are interesting, even though my favorites (Joseph and Mendoza) are absent yet again. This is actually a collection of short stories, very loosely tied together. Every time I began a new one I got my hopes up, but n I loved the first book in this series, but the rest of them have been uneven, and this book was another disappointment. There are a few good scenes, but for the most part I was simply uninterested in the story that was being told. The writing is quite good and the characters themselves are interesting, even though my favorites (Joseph and Mendoza) are absent yet again. This is actually a collection of short stories, very loosely tied together. Every time I began a new one I got my hopes up, but none of them were very satisfying, and they certainly didn't combine well into a coherent novel. Bits and pieces were good, such as the facilitator dealing with domestic strife in Amsterdam in 1702, and the operatives collecting treasures in San Francisco days before the 1906 earthquake. What I enjoyed about the first book was the day-to-day life of the immortal operatives in a historical setting, interacting with the contemporary mortals and carrying out their pragmatic missions to preserve bits and pieces of local history. Baker took the series away from this kind of story, focusing instead on the grand machinations of "The Company" and following a set of convoluted conspiracies to overthrow said Company.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    I bounced off this book a couple of times before I got through it; the one problem I have with Kage Baker is that she changes points of view so often during the series, and usually at the beginning of a novel. I pick up the next novel, and it's another person, and I really want to know what's going on with the people I already care about, not someone new. Of course, I eventually get into it and find out that what's going on in this new book has everything to do with the people I care about, but I bounced off this book a couple of times before I got through it; the one problem I have with Kage Baker is that she changes points of view so often during the series, and usually at the beginning of a novel. I pick up the next novel, and it's another person, and I really want to know what's going on with the people I already care about, not someone new. Of course, I eventually get into it and find out that what's going on in this new book has everything to do with the people I care about, but it usually takes a few tries. This is book 6 of 8 of Baker's "The Company" series (there are also a couple of not-in-sequence story collections and novellas. They're good to read - this book made reference to one of the stories in Black Projects, White Knights, but they aren't strictly necessary.) Start at the beginning, with In the Garden of Iden, and read in order, or else you'll have no idea what's going on. However, it is totally worth starting at the beginning and reading through; these books are wonderful, and Baker's characters heartbreaking in their humanity, even as they aren't.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Grayson Queen

    It felt like it too forever to finish this book. Baker seems to have written a series of vignettes filling in some of the historical blanks her other novels missed. This might have worked if but for a few things: 1. She chose characters that hadn't had any depth, then tried to give it to them in these brief tales. 2. She tells more than shows and if she's not telling she's letting her characters pontificate the pages away. 3. Most of what was told her hold little bearing on the over all plot line a It felt like it too forever to finish this book. Baker seems to have written a series of vignettes filling in some of the historical blanks her other novels missed. This might have worked if but for a few things: 1. She chose characters that hadn't had any depth, then tried to give it to them in these brief tales. 2. She tells more than shows and if she's not telling she's letting her characters pontificate the pages away. 3. Most of what was told her hold little bearing on the over all plot line and will probably have to be re-explained in the next book. 4. The is no point to this book. It's rather more, a miserable tale of all the bad things these side characters went through. I would much rather of had this information in the previous books, it would have made them more interesting. So I have to conclude that Baker hadn't planned her novels out very well, having to fill in a few plot holes along the way. Some she didn't even fill in but twisted to fit her new ideas. If it weren't for the fact that I had checked out the next book, I would have stopped reading the series. Thankfully there aren't too many books left.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    The Company book #6 is really a collection of stories. It mostly fills in some gaps that had been raised before now, although I don't think it brought anything new to the table. It was interesting to see previous events from a different point of view, but this p.o.v. didn't really add any new revelations.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    January 22, 2009 not my favorite, although some good bits about Lewis *** February 5, 2015 Executive Facilitator General Labienus demonstrates a very plausible evil for a gifted immortal: he hates the monkeys. Sometimes it's impossible to have a good view of humanity if you actually have to work with people. Ah, but Lewis remains a shining, hopeful figure. Library copy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Yates

    I’ve enjoyed all the books in the series very much up to this one. I think it’s because the main protagonist here is Labienus, a thoroughly detestable person. The author doesn’t devote any time to fleshing out his character, just presenting him as a sadist. Also, there isn’t really a central plot in this book. It zigs and zags all over the place. But still there are a few gripping stories set in this world that Kage Baker has created, a world of time travel and immortals. Perhaps the most riveti I’ve enjoyed all the books in the series very much up to this one. I think it’s because the main protagonist here is Labienus, a thoroughly detestable person. The author doesn’t devote any time to fleshing out his character, just presenting him as a sadist. Also, there isn’t really a central plot in this book. It zigs and zags all over the place. But still there are a few gripping stories set in this world that Kage Baker has created, a world of time travel and immortals. Perhaps the most riveting tale in the book is the account of the San Francisco earthquake, with the immortals all knowing what’s about to happen, mingling with mortals who are perfectly clueless. The immortals have all converged on San Francisco for a bunch of well-coordinated robberies, trying to save as many artifacts as possible, and it’s really interesting to see them in operation. On the eve of the earthquake, they gather to have a party, eating and dancing, aware that San Francisco is about to be leveled to the ground. They can already feel the preliminary shocks in the earth. The whole scene is macabre but fascinating. This novel has quite a few interesting bits, but it also has some dead ends, including the part about the children referred to in the title. These children are among the characters who are both sinister and dull, and I’m hoping they don’t return in any of the books to come.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paperclippe

    You know, I haven't disliked a single one of Kage Baker's books - ever - but this one hit me really hard. The story format - small snippets of memories, seemingly unrelated at first - worked so with the gut-twisting content that I alternated between not being able to put the book down and absolutely having to put the book down. Anything I say about this book will be a spoiler to those who are familiar with The Company series and will make no sense to those who have not read it, so I'll just say t You know, I haven't disliked a single one of Kage Baker's books - ever - but this one hit me really hard. The story format - small snippets of memories, seemingly unrelated at first - worked so with the gut-twisting content that I alternated between not being able to put the book down and absolutely having to put the book down. Anything I say about this book will be a spoiler to those who are familiar with The Company series and will make no sense to those who have not read it, so I'll just say this: some of your favorites - Nan, Kalugin, Lewis, and more - return in this installment. And you might wish they hadn't.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nigel

    Bit of a fix-up this, as short stories and novellas are stitched together to chart the rise and rise of Labienus as he plots across millennia to overthrow his human masters, defeat his immortal rivals, and commit lots of germ-based genocide. It's chilling and horrifying, bit also funny and warm and clever. I quite like it when the books skip across time like this, plot threads and characters weaving in and out, gives it a great sense of epic scale and impending crisis.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom Loock

    I just love the Company-canon of stories and novels, and this one is no exception. "The Children of the Company" is another collection of novellas and stories, though it is disguised as a novel by a negligible and very short narrative that connects the stories and has (the villain-of-sorts) Labienus go through his folders reminiscing about other employees of Dr Zeus.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathi

    Apparently this book has several previously published short stories woven into it, which helps explain the varied POVs and time periods. Yet it hangs together quite well and gives a wider perspective on the power struggles within The Company.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mrsculpepper

    not my favorite in the series. characters i care less about. good for backstory though.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sharleen Nelson

    A wonderful blend of sci-fi and time travel. Read every book in the Kage Baker Company series; you won't regret it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    These books are getting increasingly disjointed, and the flashback structure of much of this one really bugged me. Still, I want to know as much as anyone what happens in the end!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ray Francis

    The weakest of the series thus far, but it ties up some loose ends.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Phoenixfalls

    Two steps forward, one step back. There was finally a feel of momentum about the last Company novel (The Life of the World to Come) -- we finally reached the future, and quite a few events came to a head. The cast of characters appeared to be complete with the introduction of Mendoza's third (and final, I believe) lover and his devious Captain; we finally got into the heads of some of those poor short-sighted mortals nominally in charge of the Company, and we came within striking distance of 2355 Two steps forward, one step back. There was finally a feel of momentum about the last Company novel (The Life of the World to Come) -- we finally reached the future, and quite a few events came to a head. The cast of characters appeared to be complete with the introduction of Mendoza's third (and final, I believe) lover and his devious Captain; we finally got into the heads of some of those poor short-sighted mortals nominally in charge of the Company, and we came within striking distance of 2355. Unfortunately, this volume squandered all that momentum by jumping far, far backward to fill us in on another event shadow -- the evil machinations of Labienus who, from sometime in prehistory, has been doing his best to undermine the Company's stated mission. Which actually wouldn't have been terrible (though it was always destined to be frustrating) if Labienus had been rendered as fully as Baker's other viewpoint characters have been. Unfortunately, he remains throughout a caricature of frustrated desires and squeamishness. The implications from his being the only character in this universe to display homosexual urges left me a little queasy. I don't think that Baker is particularly homophobic (she was in theater, for goodness' sake! in California!) and I believe she could have rendered Labienus a more complex character had she wanted to (though thinking about it, most of her bad guys have been a tad stock) but despite what the dust jacket says, Labienus isn't really the focus of the book. He's little more than a frame; the book literally shows us him going through his secret files for a page or two, then "remembering" a short story set from quite a few other Company operatives' perspectives. We see Lewis at his best in an Ireland just being converted to Christianity; we see little Latif receive training from a Facilitator in Amsterdam; we see Kalugin's final dive into treachery; and we get Victor's story. Tragedies all, and most quite moving. We also see Budu and the ADONAI project from Labienus' perspective, as Baker maneuvers more of her plot into place. But I must say I resent the evil puppetmaster Labienus has been cast as, because (1) I just find it hard to believe a total sociopath could be produced through the indoctrination the Company uses on its Facilitators, and (2) it seems a rather creaky plot device. Still, some of the short stories within nearly moved me to tears, and Baker's prose has become more polished -- there were several pieces of description that took my breath away. The series has come far enough from the passionate first-person narration of Mendoza and Joseph that I no longer crave that from it -- at this point, I just want the action to start! But the frustration shows how much Baker has me invested in these characters and this world, so of course I still have to recommend it. But just a warning to the universe at large: the payoff had better be fantastic!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Clay Kallam

    Kage Baker has earned critical praise with her excellent series on the Company, a time travel operation based in the 24th century that sends employees back into the past to save valuable works of art and then bring them back to the future (so to speak). Some of those employees are immortal, rescued in the distant past by Company operatives and then physically augmented by Company doctors so that they have extra capabilities and cannot die, and they are the subject of ‘The Children of the Company’ Kage Baker has earned critical praise with her excellent series on the Company, a time travel operation based in the 24th century that sends employees back into the past to save valuable works of art and then bring them back to the future (so to speak). Some of those employees are immortal, rescued in the distant past by Company operatives and then physically augmented by Company doctors so that they have extra capabilities and cannot die, and they are the subject of ‘The Children of the Company’ (Tor, $24.95, 300 pages). As always, Baker is compulsively readable, but ‘The Children of the Company’ seems patched together, as though she had a bunch of novellas and vignettes on her computer that were cut, for one reason or another, from previous books and now she decided to put them to some use. Whether this is true or not, ‘The Children of the Company’ sketches the characters of a variety of immortals as they go through their sometimes painful Company duties. For example, they know the 1906 earthquake is coming, and they must walk through the San Francisco of that day in full knowledge that many of the people they talk to will be dead tomorrow -- and yet they cannot warn them or help them. ‘The Children of the Company’ delves even deeper into such moral conflicts of the immortals, and their varying attitudes towards the mortals they must live with, and the Company that created them. It’s also clear that Baker is building towards a climax in this series (which begins with ‘The Garden of Iden’), when the immortals finally live long enough to encounter the magic date when time travel is discovered, so ‘The Children of the Company’ is a stage-setter for the rest of the series -- adding depth to various characters, introducing new ones -- as well as a standalone novel. Within the context of the six-book series, ‘The Children of the Company’ is an important addition to the narrative, but on its own, it’s less satisfying. (It would seem that immortals, especially with slightly different brains, would be more different than human beings after 6,000 or so years than Baker makes them out to be, and hopefully a little wiser.) In short, don’t start the Company series with ‘The Children of the Company’, but if you’re already on board, then you’ll find it a lesser, but still worthy, step forward.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob Nolin

    Here we are, six books into the series, and the future still doesn't make sense. A side character we've heard about earlier, Labienus, is the main character here, though, since this is really a fixup--a collection of previously-published stories mashed together with a framework--that's a bit misleading. This isn't a novel. By this point, the main reason readers continue to read the books in this series, I suspect, is to find out what happens when the immortal cyborgs, living through the centurie Here we are, six books into the series, and the future still doesn't make sense. A side character we've heard about earlier, Labienus, is the main character here, though, since this is really a fixup--a collection of previously-published stories mashed together with a framework--that's a bit misleading. This isn't a novel. By this point, the main reason readers continue to read the books in this series, I suspect, is to find out what happens when the immortal cyborgs, living through the centuries one day at a time, finally reach the Great Silence of 2335. What will happen when they finally meet with their creators? This is the question driving the series now. After all, this is SF/F, and we don't have flesh and blood characters, we have action and plot. And we have to keep reading to figure out what the future will hold. Who, really, is the Company? In the present volume, we see that certain cyborgs have plans, and some of these involve killing large numbers of humans. Given that the Company is only supposed to work in the shadows of recorded history (the event shadows), this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The final story in this mashup, "Applesauce Monster," shows Facilitator Victor acting as the bodyguard of a famous family. What, we wonder, happened to the actual, historical bodyguard? This would be like having a cyborg play out the known actions of, say, John Wilkes Booth. Labienus explains that it's all okay, as long as the cyborg does what history records. What? A moment's reflection shows how little Baker seems to have understood temporal paradoxes. My advice is: don't think too hard when reading these books, you'll just get a headache. These are time travel stories that don't stick by their own rules. But that's a problem, isn't it? Because after you set aside the thin-as-paper characters, all you're left with is the mystery of what happens in the future. The cyborgs have only limited knowledge of recorded history, but the guys at the end of time, 2335, know it all, and then, for some reason, recorded history ends. Why? That's the mystery. And after six books, we're no closer to knowing the answer. Take it as a fantasy, then, and don't think too much. Just go along for the ride, and the dry, witty writing. Or not.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Before I start complaining, let me say that "Son Observe the Time" is excellent, and well worth reading on its own. It can be found in the Gardner Dozois-edited Year's Best Science Fiction, Vol. 17, and it's earned its spot there. Unfortunately, it's far and away the best part of this novelette collection, especially compared to the ridiculous and dire framing story. Virtually every appearance of Most Evil Dude Labienus leads to repeated and escalating attempts to communicate that he's the worst. Before I start complaining, let me say that "Son Observe the Time" is excellent, and well worth reading on its own. It can be found in the Gardner Dozois-edited Year's Best Science Fiction, Vol. 17, and it's earned its spot there. Unfortunately, it's far and away the best part of this novelette collection, especially compared to the ridiculous and dire framing story. Virtually every appearance of Most Evil Dude Labienus leads to repeated and escalating attempts to communicate that he's the worst. Within the first thirty pages or so, we see directly that he's: greedy, cruel, pompous, exacting, egocentric, vain to the point of autophilia, hey wait a minute I think he might not be a good person you guys! It's fairly wearing. Toward the end of the book, Labienus kills a lost and starving mountaineer with his ACME spring-loaded window ledge, and by then my only reaction was to think, "Sure. Of course! Why not." I commend Kage Baker for somehow refraining from use of the appellation "Darth." Of course, whenever Labienus isn't Grinching it up, he's engaging in such gripping, tense activities as removing file folders from their properly labeled storage cabinets and sitting in a chair and remembering things that didn't actually happen to him, so I guess heads you win, tails I lose as far as Labienus is concerned. I'm continuing with the series, or rather doubling back to Black Projects, White Knights, and if the dark hints I've seen about Dragonball-esque cyborg "battle mode" fights are true, may God have mercy on my soul.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    On one hand, this is a REALLY tedious book to get through because after the conclusion of "Life of the world to come," you just want to find out what Mendoza does next, and there's little to no Mendoza in this book. However, this is the book that gets to the heart of of the Zeus conspiracy, and it's absolutely integral to the story line. Much of the book is told from Labienus' point of view, and he's very much Not a Nice Man. Once you get the gist of his chapters, you can kind of skim through them On one hand, this is a REALLY tedious book to get through because after the conclusion of "Life of the world to come," you just want to find out what Mendoza does next, and there's little to no Mendoza in this book. However, this is the book that gets to the heart of of the Zeus conspiracy, and it's absolutely integral to the story line. Much of the book is told from Labienus' point of view, and he's very much Not a Nice Man. Once you get the gist of his chapters, you can kind of skim through them. Worthwhile stories include Lewis' much-alluded-to time in Ireland, how Budu disappeared, the San Francisco earthquake and Victor's unwilling part(s) in the larger conspiracy. After this one, the next three books read quickly and much more satisfyingly, so fasten your seatbelt and take a deep breath. *********** 2016 reread: This is such a hard book to read. The reader truly sees the depth of depravity of the little cabals within the employees of Dr. Zeus and the lengths some will go to in order to promote their cause. They're setting themselves up for the Silence that comes in the year 2355 and they want to be the ones to step in and take power when recorded history stops. The bright spots are the story of Executive Facilitator Van Drouton and the chaos of her life running a house in Amsterdam and the glimpse into 1906 San Francisco days before the earthquake.

  22. 5 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    6/8/11 Comfort Re-read I love this series! This book is a very dark entry however. Almost too dark for me. Labienius and co. are such horrible psychopathic megalomaniacs! (Enough polysyllables?) But, if you're a Company Fan, you really need to read this one, because it is how you find out about a lot of the backstories, and get your loose ends tied up, and red herrings explained. This book doesn't really add much action-wise to the overlying plot action arc, but wow!, it is important to add rich 6/8/11 Comfort Re-read I love this series! This book is a very dark entry however. Almost too dark for me. Labienius and co. are such horrible psychopathic megalomaniacs! (Enough polysyllables?) But, if you're a Company Fan, you really need to read this one, because it is how you find out about a lot of the backstories, and get your loose ends tied up, and red herrings explained. This book doesn't really add much action-wise to the overlying plot action arc, but wow!, it is important to add richness and depth--and answer some of the reader's MANY questions. So...read it. That's my advice. But do move on to the next which makes Alex, Mendoza, and etc. the focal point. Kage Baker was one of the best plotters out there, IMO. On the level of Connie Willis and Lois McMaster Bujold. And she had so many balls juggled in her many subplots... It is such a complicated and rich and full of depth series. I am really sad to loose her talent and wish she had had the satisfaction of being better known and appreciated before it was too late. The reader needs to have a brain to read this series. And her sly sense of humor shining through adds so much to my enjoyment. I notice more and more as I'm re-reading this series that I missed the first time through. Too much of a paen?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Molly G

    (x-posted from my review of "Sandman IX: The Kindly Ones") Reading this series and the [Neil Gaiman Sandman] series simultaneously (alternating installments) is yielding the weirdest parallels. The same themes and buzzwords popping up in ridiculous synchronicity. I don't think it's just Observational Selection Bias… They're vocabulary or concepts with which I'm already familiar. It's more how they're matching, not just just from one series to the next, but in which installment I happen to be on o (x-posted from my review of "Sandman IX: The Kindly Ones") Reading this series and the [Neil Gaiman Sandman] series simultaneously (alternating installments) is yielding the weirdest parallels. The same themes and buzzwords popping up in ridiculous synchronicity. I don't think it's just Observational Selection Bias… They're vocabulary or concepts with which I'm already familiar. It's more how they're matching, not just just from one series to the next, but in which installment I happen to be on of each. E.g. "Psychopomp", "was the devil forced out for disobedience or did he leave in disgust of God''s behavior", etc… In any case, both amazing series, not redundant, though clearly like-minded, and no wonder I'm loving them both. ;-) Just rather funny timing. (On finishing the book) Feels like the darkest so far; certainly the hardest to get through in ways that have nothing to do with the quality of writing, which is excellent and engaging as always. Sociopathic main character is probably the crux. Reread 9-12-2015. More rare and excellent every time. How many books have the villain as their POV character…? Quite a few now that I think of it but still seems like a particular accomplishment.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Dean

    Basically a collection of short stories linked by their connection to Labienus and his nefarious plan for world domination. Just about every cyborg mentioned in the previous books who have not had their own story get one here, usually with their origin included. They each play some part in the master plan Labienus has for taking over in the year 2355, some as willing partners and some as unwitting pawns. A great many pieces of the overall puzzle are revealed, and events that had been vaguely all Basically a collection of short stories linked by their connection to Labienus and his nefarious plan for world domination. Just about every cyborg mentioned in the previous books who have not had their own story get one here, usually with their origin included. They each play some part in the master plan Labienus has for taking over in the year 2355, some as willing partners and some as unwitting pawns. A great many pieces of the overall puzzle are revealed, and events that had been vaguely alluded to get fleshed out. Nicely done. The best part is that Kage Baker obviously has a plan. Too many authors start a series and then forget what they wrote in previous books, leaving questions unanswered, plots abandoned, and characters acting in book 4 contrary to the way they acted in book 1. Too often they have an idea on how to start a series with a mysterious puzzle but no clue as to what the solution to that puzzle is. (I'm looking at you, Ronald D. Moore!) Baker has kept careful track of her story and everything falls into place. Which is truly exceptional given that this series is about time travel, where it would be very easy to get confused. I can't wait for 2355 to get here.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim Mcclanahan

    I think I indicated somewhere else that this book is something of a speed bump in the Company saga. It serves to bring the reader up to date (for the most part) by intertwining some short stories with a covering narrative from the cyborg human hater, Labienus. Keeps you from getting too rosy a view of how things may ultimately turn out. As usual, the text is intelligent, compelling and evocative. The only sad part is that I'm only two books away from the end of the series because of the author's I think I indicated somewhere else that this book is something of a speed bump in the Company saga. It serves to bring the reader up to date (for the most part) by intertwining some short stories with a covering narrative from the cyborg human hater, Labienus. Keeps you from getting too rosy a view of how things may ultimately turn out. As usual, the text is intelligent, compelling and evocative. The only sad part is that I'm only two books away from the end of the series because of the author's untimely death. I'll forestall the inevitable by reading any parts of "Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers" that I may have missed before moving on to "The Machine's Child". Makes me think of the death of Giacomo Puccini while he was still writing the opera "Turandot". The opera was finished by others posthumously. But while conducting the premiere performance, Arturo Toscanini stopped at the point that Puccini died and told the audience that he was finished, not using the new finale. Others may decide to carry on Baker's work, but I will reconcile myself to being satisfied at the point she stopped.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Ok you guys. I have read 70/180 books for my 2014 reading challenge, which means I need to read 50 books in November and 50 books in December. Thank God for holidays. Had a brief crazed thought that I could read 20 books tomorrow to get halfway there, but people, this is a stretch even for me. A book an hour with four hours of sleep does not sound fun. This is the next book in Baker's The Company series, this one following an evil facilitator. He's so despicable that reading his sections is obnox Ok you guys. I have read 70/180 books for my 2014 reading challenge, which means I need to read 50 books in November and 50 books in December. Thank God for holidays. Had a brief crazed thought that I could read 20 books tomorrow to get halfway there, but people, this is a stretch even for me. A book an hour with four hours of sleep does not sound fun. This is the next book in Baker's The Company series, this one following an evil facilitator. He's so despicable that reading his sections is obnoxious. However, he's sort of this conceit through which we actually catch up on backstory for other characters like Victor, Kalguin (spelling?), Budu, Lewis, etc. More on H. umbralis (eww) here, which was interesting. Also many stories that were obliquely referred to are explicated in detail. Wound up really enjoying it! From here there are two more advancing novels and two prequels/side novels and then lots of short stories and some novellas. And then Kage Baker is already dead and that's it. BOO. BOO DEATH OF AUTHORS (who are good, sorry Bulwer-Lytton).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    This is the sixth novel in Baker's 'The Company' series, not counting the short story collection 'Black Projects, White Knights" (which I'll probably read next). At this point, I'd have to say this does not work as a stand-alone novel. To enjoy this book, you really have to know what came before, and be interested in what's eventually going to happen (in the 24th century). I did enjoy the book - but because I do really like this series. Mainly, it forwards the growing concepts the The Company is This is the sixth novel in Baker's 'The Company' series, not counting the short story collection 'Black Projects, White Knights" (which I'll probably read next). At this point, I'd have to say this does not work as a stand-alone novel. To enjoy this book, you really have to know what came before, and be interested in what's eventually going to happen (in the 24th century). I did enjoy the book - but because I do really like this series. Mainly, it forwards the growing concepts the The Company is more and more corrupt than we initially guessed, and rebellion is fomenting among some powerful parties. The story mostly has to do with a secret genetic experiment to cross the mysterious troglodyte race mentioned in previous novels with humans - but at this point in the saga, there's a lot of different characters and elements, and bringing them all in and forward doesn't make for an extremely cohesive plot. But - I've still really got to get the last two book in the series!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hester

    Yet again, Kage Baker changed literary styles in this book in the "The Company" series. Instead of a novel, she wrote a series of short stories that explained events referred to in earlier books. We find out how Latif came to have a childhood, what happened to Kalugin, Lewis' experiences in Ireland, who "the bad toymaker" really was, and why Victor wears gloves. Victor turned out to be a tragic character and the story of Master Simeon broke my heart. Most of these stories are sad, but Latif's ch Yet again, Kage Baker changed literary styles in this book in the "The Company" series. Instead of a novel, she wrote a series of short stories that explained events referred to in earlier books. We find out how Latif came to have a childhood, what happened to Kalugin, Lewis' experiences in Ireland, who "the bad toymaker" really was, and why Victor wears gloves. Victor turned out to be a tragic character and the story of Master Simeon broke my heart. Most of these stories are sad, but Latif's childhood in the Netherlands is hilarious. Be forewarned, however, that there is significant time spent with Labenius, an unbelievably unpleasant character. I had a hard time reading the sections about him.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven Bragg

    Kage Baker seems to do better with short stories, so that she can build a storyline quickly, come to the point, and neatly wrap up and move on to the next topic. This book worked really well for me. She covered a lot of material, filling in holes in the plot from her main series of books, and expanding characters that had previously been lightly-drawn. Her black humor really permeates these stories, much more so than her other works, so you have to be in a snarky mood to really go where she lead Kage Baker seems to do better with short stories, so that she can build a storyline quickly, come to the point, and neatly wrap up and move on to the next topic. This book worked really well for me. She covered a lot of material, filling in holes in the plot from her main series of books, and expanding characters that had previously been lightly-drawn. Her black humor really permeates these stories, much more so than her other works, so you have to be in a snarky mood to really go where she leads (guess I was). The San Francisco story was especially well done, with a good viewpoint on what it would be like to know that a major catastrophe was about to hit. Despite the other reviews, I don't see any real downsides to this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ron Henry

    I found this installment of Baker's Company series a little harder sledding than the ones before. The "fix-up" nature of the book is more evident than ever and I was found the "And then Libienus picked up the next folder and read..." technique that would start each of the distinct story-length sections of the book annoying. The sections varied a lot in how compelling their stories were -- Latif in Amsterdam I had trouble getting into, but the agents preparing for the destruction of San Francisco I found this installment of Baker's Company series a little harder sledding than the ones before. The "fix-up" nature of the book is more evident than ever and I was found the "And then Libienus picked up the next folder and read..." technique that would start each of the distinct story-length sections of the book annoying. The sections varied a lot in how compelling their stories were -- Latif in Amsterdam I had trouble getting into, but the agents preparing for the destruction of San Francisco in 1906 was very good (I think that part might have won a Hugo when originally published as a short story).

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