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 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