Baker, Kage: (06) The Children of the Company

The Children of the Company is nominally the sixth Company novel, but as I said before, is actually a fixup. This is annoying on two levels. First, there’s basically no movement in the overall plot, as all the stories take place before the end of The Life of the World to Come. Second, the fixup uses the framing device of Labienus reviewing documents and reflecting on his career: but I do not actually believe that a number of the stories would have been committed to paper. In particular, I’ll believe Victor’s first-person narration in a standalone story with no explicit framing device, but I refuse to believe that he would be so foolish as to keep a diary.

To the extent this book has an arc, it’s mostly Victor’s, which I enjoyed. (And I see that when I first read “Son Observe the Time,” I missed a small gesture toward my issues with the “recorded history can’t be changed” axiom.) We also are given a sense of Labienus’s personality (he has been briefly mentioned in prior books), which worked less well for me because I don’t find him as interesting, and see Latif and Kalugin again. There’s also another story with Kiu, introduced in Black Projects, White Knights, and may I take this opportunity to say that I regret that the only character with Asian ancestry is a Dragon Lady? And there is a very brief mention of a completely new character in the Epilogue, of all places, which puzzles me to no end—presumably this will be significant, but surely there was a smoother way to manage that introduction?

On the whole, I would have preferred that this were a collection rather than a fixup, because the seams and lack of coherence are distracting.

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