The second book in the Company –series and part of my 2nds challenge.

This time the main character is Joseph who is one of the oldest immortals around. He was made into an immortal in the Stone Age. The previous book’s main character, Mendoza, is a secondary character here.

Joseph has been assigned among the mortals for a quite a long while. His latest job is as a Spanish Jesuit. However, at the start of the book, he’s being reassigned. At first, he spends some free time at New World One which is one the Company’s places hidden from mortals. Even though the year is 1599, the people in New World One have every luxury imaginable from modern drinks to water toilets. Joseph enjoys his time there fully although the melodramatic director Houbert is a bit too enthusiastic about arranging entertainment for all no matter if the all what to participate or not. The immortals are served by Mayans who think the immortals are gods.

After a couple of weeks, Joseph is reassigned to further up north, to the place which will be California later. He, and a group of other immortals, are to relocate a tribe of Chumash Indians to the future and to safety from the invading white people. In order to save them, Joseph has to masquerade as the trickster god Coyote who seems to be a sort of champion for the tribe although definitely not all-knowing or even good all the time. He gets implants from the Company and introduces himself to the Chumash.

Most of the story is Joseph’s experiences with the tribe who seems to be fairly prosperous and quite advanced in trade relations. They aren’t stupid or naive, though. Joseph enjoys spending time with them because they remind him of his childhood and youth in the Stone Age. I was amused by how Baker had decided to make the dialogue quite modern and so the Chumash had Canoemakers’ Union and United Steatite Workers alongside with shamans.

There’s also an interesting subplot about the Company. Apparently, none of the immortals are allowed to travel into the future beyond the year 2355. The humans say that this is the start of the glorious golden years but the immortals have their own, darker, thoughts. Also, the oldest immortals have disappeared over the years. Technically, they cannot die but Joseph hasn’t seen any of the Neanderthal immortals for centuries. They seem to be very loyal bunch but not very easy to blend into the crowd anymore. Also, we see some of Joseph’s memories about Budu who recruited him. Some time ago, Budu was arrested and Joseph hasn’t seen him since. I hope Baker will return to these plotlines later.

The Alta California base is run by humans from the future and there’s a stark contrast between the two bases. The New World One is a decadent place where the immortals drink and party all night and can indulge their every vice. In AltCal, the humans are strict vegans, don’t drink, and are deathly afraid of germs from a less civilized time. They impose these limits to the immortals as well. Also, the future humans don’t care for culture, even pop culture, and don’t even understand metaphors. The future doesn’t look very promising.

The plot isn’t really an adventure story. Instead if focuses on the Chumash society and also the differences between the immortals and their bosses from the future. But I tend to like that, from time to time. In fact, I’d like to read some more books like that.

Joseph’s way of coping with outliving mortals is that he makes a point to not to get involved. Not in people and not in ideas. As far as he’s concerned, they are all transitory. I think that’s a good way to cope, at least in the surface, but how long can anyone live like that? It might also make a character boring in the long run. We’ll see.

Overall: a good continuation. I already have the third book.