Following Kage Baker

There are only four of authors I "follow", eagerly awaiting each new book. I even have alerts set up in the 'Books in Print' database available through the library – as soon as any of them have a new book announced, I get an email. They are: Kate Atkinson, Connie Willis, Laurie R. King, and Kage Baker

I remember my discovery of Baker very distinctly. I read the review of her first novel, In the Garden of Iden, in Library Journal in October 1997, which summarized the plot as follows: “The initial assignment for 18-year-old Mendoza, transformed into an immortal cyborg by the 24th-century Company, is to retrieve from Renaissance England an endangered plant that cures cancer. Posing as a Spanish lady accompanying her doctor father, she falls in love with the mortal Nicholas Harpole, secretary to the owner of Iden Hall and its exotic gardens. Amidst the raging Catholic/Protestant powerplays revolving around the English throne and the fervent religious bloodlust of common folk, Mendoza is torn between her task and her love.” Immortality, time travel, and the Reformation! I was highly intrigued. The next week I saw a copy on the new book shelf, and a love affair began. Oh, the highs and lows as I followed The Botanist Mendoza through centuries of pining over Nicholas (and his Company-fabricated reincarnations). Oh, the horrendous cover art. Before it was over, The Company series spanned nine novels, two short story collections, and four novellas. I loved Baker’s characters, and while I occasionally had serious problems with her plot choices, I was passionate about everything she wrote.

Her other series has no name, and is usually referred by the title of the first book, Anvil of the World. Each of these humorous, original fantasies stands up well on its own. My favorite is House of the Stag, which chronicles the life of the half-demon Gard from outcast among the extremely-peace-loving Yendri, to slave held by evil magicians, to his adulthood as Master of the Mountain – loving father, devoted husband, feared by the entire continent.

There will be no more 'alerts' for Kage Baker. This year we lost her.

The library’s stock of In the Garden of Iden had dwindled down to one copy, but it was recently reprinted and more are on the way. Don’t let the cover art scare you.