The Graveyard Game by Kage Baker
Posted November 20, 2015on:
The Graveyard Game (Company, #4) by Kage Baker
published in 2001
Where I got it: purchased new
I really enjoy Kage Baker, but life is full of so many fun books it’s hard for me to monogamously read one series until I finish it. I’d read Mendoza in Hollywood (Company, book 3) a while back, and was a little underwhelmed by it. It felt like a rehash of the first book, and I thought it was kinda slow. Anyways, thanks to this tweet from fellow blogger Lisa, I decided to dive back into The Company series and pick up the next book in the series, The Graveyard Game.
I’m too lazy to type up a summary of the series so far, and what exactly The Company is. Go read my review of In the Garden of Iden for all that (and to get hooked on the series).
As this is book four in Baker’s Company series, spoilers are unavoidable. #SorryNotSorry. It’s kinda funny how things are all coming together now, actually. The first book in the series, In The Garden of Iden, functions perfectly well as a standalone. the next book, Sky Coyote is most definitely a sequel, but if you read them out of order the universe wouldn’t end. Book three, Mendoza in Hollywood circles back to some stuff that happened in book one and feels a smidgen apart from the other books in the series. And now, in The Graveyard Game, everything comes crashing together as Baker rips everything wide open for the gist of the rest of the series. I zipped through this book in just a few days (which if you’ve seen my work schedule, you know is a miracle), it kicked me in the feels and then tore those feels out and kicked them some more.
Some things that happen to you when you are an immortal cyborg:
- your broken heart never heals because your memory is so good that you never forget anything
- a “long standing grudge” has a whole new meaning
- you can play a really, really really long game.
Picking up shortly after the end of book three, and including a nice little summary of what’s happened so far (especially helpful if it’s been like a year since you read the last book!), Mendoza is missing. She broke all the rules at the end of book three, got arrested, and no one has heard from her since. Joseph feels responsible for her safety, he sees her as an adopted daughter. And Lewis? well, Lewis has known Mendoza for centuries. After all this time, he finally realizes he loves her. In a Maurice style fashion, he knows she’ll never love him back in that way, but he is concerned for her, he wants to find her. So Lewis and Joseph team up to investigate.
And this is where things get weird, and awesome, and then weird again, and then totally terrifying.
People have started disappearing. Joseph’s old friends and comrades, his mentor, people he knows should be around somewhere, these folks are simply nowhere to be found. Immortal cyborgs don’t die, they can’t. So, what the hell did the Company do with these people? What do you do when the perfect beings you created are suddenly a liability? (Will McIntosh took a stab at this question too) Lewis and Joseph are looking for answers, but they aren’t stupid. If Company operatives have been disappearing for asking questions or maybe learning too much, they better be as quiet as possible. The less The Company knows about what they’re up to, the better.
The previous books generally took place in the same time period. The operatives would be in the 1500s, or in the 1700s, or in the civil war, and the entire story took place in that decade. Not so much in The Graveyard Game. Time travel only works going backwards, to go forwards you have to live every day and be really, really patient. Well, when you can’t age or die, you’ve got plenty of patience. Joseph and Lewis simply wait for the right moments to ask the right people the right questions. Sometimes they go a few months between catching up with each other, sometimes it’s more than a decade. It was cool to watch time go by like this. As the reader, I’m just turning the pages, and suddenly it’s the year 2225. But the characters? they had to sit through every day to get there.
Through Lewis’s chapters, we see how technology is changing, how the economy changes, what he has to do to stay under the radar. He doesn’t age, but the things he carries with him does. For example, a nostalgic photograph he has, he keeps it framed, and many decades later has it digitized, because no one owns real photos anymore, and besides, after all these years it is too fragile to have on display. Baker could have just changed the dates at the beginning of chapters and left it at that, but instead she included all these little details, things that make you wonder what happens when someone lives too long.
I’ve been waiting for another Joseph book since Sky Coyote, and I got it with Graveyard Game. Joseph even gets his own POV chapters, where he is confessing to someone. At first, you can’t tell if he’s talking to someone, or writing someone a letter, or just talking to himself because he’s got to talk to someone. When I first met Joseph way back in book one, I thought he was a coldhearted jerk. Book two I fell in love with him a little. After reading book four, I just feel for him. Does The Company know what they’ve put these people through? Do they understand that telling someone “I’ll give you immortality if you work for me” amount to eternal slavery? What happens when people decide they don’t want to be slaves anymore? But I digress.
As quietly as possible, Joseph and Lewis try to talk to people who knew Mendoza, who may have been with her in the days before her arrest. There are two photos, taken hundreds of years apart, but the photos could be of the same person. That’s impossible, right? Everything from book one and three comes crashing down on their heads. They are getting close to something that could kill them.
The end of The Graveyard Game is the kind of powderkeg that makes me want to monogamously binge read the rest of the series. I know who was in that photo, but what I want to know is why. Luckily I’ve got The Life of the World to Come around here somewhere. Joseph and Lewis better find Mendoza, because if they don’t, I’ll never get to see her again either.
Why do i get the feeling that the closer everyone gets to what they are looking for, the more my heart will break?
I trust Kage Baker implicitly. She’s the pied piper and I’m a rat. And suddenly all I want to do is go swimming.