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Recently returned from war, young Edward Anton Bell-Fairfax is grateful to be taken under the wing of the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society. The adopted son of a genteel London family, Edward was more often tolerated than loved by his distant mother and remorseful father, who took him on in order to make amends for a past of heartbreak and, above all, in exchange for the eraRecently returned from war, young Edward Anton Bell-Fairfax is grateful to be taken under the wing of the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society. The adopted son of a genteel London family, Edward was more often tolerated than loved by his distant mother and remorseful father, who took him on in order to make amends for a past of heartbreak and, above all, in exchange for the erasure of crushing debt. The military offered both purpose and escape for Edward, something he dreads he will not find at home. Only the curiously timely arrival of an old friend of Edward’s father offers Edward a new direction, and a new purpose that fits with his still untarnished ideals.At the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society, Edward soon learns that a secret world flourishes beneath the surface of London’s society, a world of wondrous and terrible inventions and devices used to tip the balance of power in a long-running game of high-stakes intrigue.  Through his intensive training, Edward Anton Bell-Fairfax, an unwanted and lonely boy, becomes Edward Anton Bell-Fairfax, Victorian super-assassin, fleeing across the Turkish countryside in steam-powered coaches and honing his fighting skills against clockwork opponents.As Edward travels across Europe with a team of companions, all disguised as gentleman dandies on tour, he learns more about himself and the curious abilities he is gradually developing.  He begins to wonder if there isn’t more going on than simple international intrigue, and if he and his companions are maybe part of a political and economic game stretching through the centuries.  But, in the end, is it a game he can bring himself to play?Edward Anton Bell-Fairfax, the idealistic assassin. Perhaps the most dangerous man alive....

Title : Not Less Than Gods
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780765318916
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 319 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Not Less Than Gods Reviews

  • Stefan
    2019-01-26 10:15

    Your reaction to the announcement of Not Less Than Gods by consistently excellent SF and fantasy author Kage Baker will probably depend to a large extent on how familiar you are with her The Company series. If you haven't read any of the Company novels or collections, the story of the Gentlemen's Speculative Society (GSS) and one of its operatives, Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell, sounds like an interesting and entertaining steampunk novel. However, if you're familiar with the Company series, your reaction to a novel about "Edward's creation and recruitment by the GSS, his training, and his first mission" will probably be more of the "I want it and I want it NOW!" variety, with the number of exclamation points determined by how enthusiastic you are about the main series. (I limited myself to one, to avoid the impression that this review was written by a teenage girl. Mentally, please feel free to add a few more.)In a nutshell, the Company series deals with the operatives of Dr. Zeus Inc., a 24th century company that has discovered the secret of time travel and naturally decides to use it for corporate profit, sending quasi-immortal cyborgs back in time to collect lost art, extinct plants and so on.One of the things I like best about the Company series is the way the information is slowly revealed throughout the series. For example, the excellent first novel in the series, In the Garden of Iden, at first reads like a more or less self-contained story about Company botanist Mendoza, but it takes on a completely different meaning when you read the later books in the series, because there's a huge story arc building up throughout the series, with layers upon layers added to the plot and the characters as the revelations build up.The two stand-alone Company novels Kage Baker released after the completion of the main series, The Empress of Mars and Not Less than Gods, have a completely different impact depending on how familiar you are with the series, because fans already know the entire story and are now being filled in on specific aspects of it — in the case of Not Less Than Gods, the early life of Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell, who makes his first Company series appearance in Mendoza in Hollywood. In that sense, it's a bit similar to The Life of the World to Come, but about Edward rather than Alex Checkerfield. Even though it feels like a prequel, using that term doesn't make much sense in a series that deals with the nature of time travel.Even if you haven't read any of the Company novels, Not Less Than Gods is still a very entertaining read. Kage Baker includes enough hints about the nature of the Company to make sure that new readers will have a broad idea of what's going on — or at least as much as the main characters do. Even without this, the novel is a rollicking adventure story set in the Victorian era, about a small group of GSS agents traveling across Europe and the Middle East, causing havoc and (in the process) affecting history in several ways. They're armed with an array of — for that period — advanced gadgets and weaponry, a distinct appreciation for alcoholic beverages, and a good dose of jolly-old-boy British witticisms. Young Edward is a fascinating character, different from his peers in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, idealistic, tortured, and brave. As always, Kage Baker's prose is delightfully sly, always sounding as if she is sharing a subtle joke with her readers, gradually drawing you in as she unfolds the plot.As a long-time fan of Kage Baker, I was extremely pleased with Not Less Than Gods. If you're in the market for an excellent SF series, I'd probably still recommend starting with In the Garden of Iden first, but Not Less Than Gods is a solid addition to the Company series and works surprisingly well as a standalone novel.(This review was also published on www.fantasyliterature.com --- come check us out!)

  • Wealhtheow
    2019-02-03 08:33

    Years ago, Kage Baker began the Company series, which followed near-immortal time-traveling cyborgs in their adventures throughout human history. Yes, they were as much fun as they sound--and exhibited an excellent grasp of history and a gift for tragedy, as well.This book, not so much. It's a prequel to Mendoza in Hollywood, but is best read after The Children of the Company. The problem with this book is the cheeky, irreverant humor is missing, and the sense of impending doom is gone. And even by the end, I didn't have much idea of the characters' personalities. Edward himself is a fascinating man, but this book provides no new insights to him. The plot itself is episodic, with no narrative tension--Edward is told to go places and do things, and he goes and does them without much, if any, problems. I never felt worried about whether his mission would succeed or not, because I never got a good idea of what it was, or why it mattered. Overall, this was a disappointment, and only worthwhile if you really need more Company in your life.

  • Phoenixfalls
    2019-01-23 11:26

    This is an odd book, a standalone Company novel that I think would actually work better for someone who does not know the series than for those of us who know and love it (which might explain the very lackluster reviews I've seen of it online).Not Less Than Gods is written in a third-person omniscient near-objective mode, meaning the narrator knows everything about everyone in the story but rarely delves into their thoughts and feelings, staying detached. Despite what the jacket would lead you to believe, it never enters Edward's head -- he is a cipher to those around him and to the reader. I resented this mode at first -- it seemed to leave a great gaping hole in every scene -- but the introduction of Rabbi Canetti reveals that this was a very deliberate choice on Baker's part and one, in fact, that I believe would make the book for those who have not read the Company novels (and have the eyes to see it).To one who has not encountered the Company before, this novel has a central theme -- the danger of creating a monster and then giving it a soul. It is a Frankenstein tale, plain and simple, with Dr. Nennys as Dr. Frankenstein and Edward as his monster -- a subtler monster than Shelley's, but just as horrifying to the average bystander and just as innocent. We the reader cannot see Edward's perspective for this to work, however, because he does not know that he is a golem; the objective tone Baker uses reinforces her message.The novel still is not entirely effective; I think it would have been stronger had Baker dipped more into the ancillary characters' heads, and it is rather slow starting and episodic throughout. It is also more steampunk than I expected, paying far more attention to the workings of all the wondrous machines than were really warranted by the story. But I think that if I did not know the Company novels already, I would have been quite moved by the climax as Ludbridge watches Edward realize what exactly he is.However, I do know the Company novels, and I have met Edward before. I know his history already. Most importantly, I know how much more of a complete person (as opposed to a golem with a soul) he is than this book gives him credit for, so I am resistent to giving him the pass that this book provides him on all those shady ethical issues. With all that extra knowledge, I was left almost entirely cold by the novel. I wanted, instead, the novel that the book jacket led me to believe this was -- a real dip into Edward's psyche before Mendoza ran into him in California, something more realistic psychoanalysis than allegory. Or, at least, something with a bit more humor and action, some of the dashing zest for life it seemed Edward had (in amongst his raging egomania).So all in all I'm frustrated by this novel, but I nonetheless hope it does well, and it would be very nice if it finds an audience outside of Baker's core Company fans.

  • Eva Folsom
    2019-02-02 11:09

    OK, I know it's not exactly fair to grab the ninth book in a series--and a prequel, no less--and to judge it as a standalone book. Which I did. But seriously, I'm not sure exactly why I even finished this one. The characters were entirely unappealing, there were no women characters (unless you count the "characters" whose sole function was to have sex with the protags, or the brothel madam who has about four lines), and there was no point to the book, plot-wise. The story failed to have rising tension, but was rather a series of loosely-connected, boys'-adventure storylets. In these adventures, the characters are never actually challenged, and any "adversity" is easily vanquished by the trio of Marty Sues and there magic technology. All in all, an exceedingly dull read.

  • Kara
    2019-01-22 11:21

    Part of my disappointment may be because that, due to the author's untimely demise, this might be the last book I ever get to read by her, which makes everything so much worse. I blame the chemo and the cancer for clearly wreaking havoc with her ability to write a subtle, well crafted story that blends all sorts of history and science fiction along with strong characters and subtle re-workings of old themes, because none of that happened in this book. Again – not blaming the author, because I know she can could do better.The book is basically James Bond in the Victorian era - complete with all the gadgets, girls, exotic locales, international thugs, over the top plots, secret government agencies/societies.You will be completely lost if you haven’t read all her other Company works, and if you have read her other Company works, you won't be very satisfied by this piece of the puzzle - it simply slightly fleshes and puts together out a lot of pieces that have already been presented throughout the series. Also, she seems to have simply copied and pasted parts of her book on Alec’s childhood and just changed the names – and the parental abandonment theme was done better there.Also, this might be because Baker planned on doing more books to directly follow this one, the story arch doesn't feel complete. We are presented with a man full of idealism and naïveté - but we never see him become the cool jaded character we know he will be later in the series. The book failed to deliver on a lot of points, but this one was the worst.Edward is compared to both the Golem (by a walking stereotype) and to Frankenstein monster, but its like being hit over the head with a mallet – again, none of Kage Baker’s usual subtly. Those creatures knew they weren’t human to start with – but Edward is convinced he is human, even when presented evidence to the contrary. Which, I have to say, the scene in the bar where he hypnotizes someone into having a drink was one of the few well written and captivating spots of the story.Basically, I am so very sorry.

  • Lady Knight
    2019-02-15 04:20

    "The Company" has long been a favorite series of mine and when I heard about this 'extra' chapter, I couldn't wait. Unfortunately this volume just doesn't live up to the rest of the series. It is an interesting take on the spy/assassin genre and does have the promised elements of steampunk and mysterious societies. What's missing here though is more of a plot! I honestly felt that all the characters did was globe trot, killed the odd 'bad guy' and moved on. Where's the greater plot? Okay, I know it was just suppossed to provide some background for Edward, but I honestly expected more. It is a pity that it was Ms. Baker's last book. She's written much, much better material.

  • Donna
    2019-01-30 06:35

    Edward Bell-Fairfax, a young man with unique abilities, joins a secret society focused on advancing technology, then travels around Europe getting information and meeting other branches of his group.This is my first time reading Kage Baker. I enjoyed the overall style of the book and thought the world was really interesting, but I had some issues with the plot and characterization.The pace was odd and repetitive. Things started off well enough, with Bell-Fairfax's backstory and training. He's likeable but a little flat, possibly because he's just so damn good at everything. The man's only real challenges are internal, he struggles a little bit with his differences and a little more thoroughly with the ethics of his behavior and work. But I don't know if those personal quibbles are enough to balance out that he's big and strong and fast and perceptive and attractive and smart and thoughtful and kind. The other main characters are largely filler. One is there to train him, because as a young operative he can't be the leader. The other two have specialized jobs, but as characters they provide an average society member and a sloppy one to contrast Bell-Fairfax with.The story had some great moments of tension and intrigue, but it followed such a constant pattern that it became predictable. Our morally-questionable heroes arrive at an exotic locale, do a little light spying, encounter members of the local branch of their society, and get introduced to a big, steampunkish machine. The only real variation was the occasional appearance of the bad guys, who were talked up into more of a threat than they turned out to be. The pace isn't helped by the fact that it's so exposition-heavy, these folks spend a lot of time sitting around and talking.I know the focus of the secret society is technology, but it got tiring in terms of the story. Every time the gang faced a problem, someone would pull out a brand new trinket to deal with it. Their secret tech made them automatically better than any of their opponents, and what the tech couldn't accomplish, Bell-Fairfax could. Fun gadgets in a steampunk setting are supposed to be exciting, but at some point I started seeing the new toys as more of a drag on the story's momentum than anything else. As with any alternate history, the events and locations of the book relate to real-world events. This book could have done a much better job at explaining the significance of the team's actions. The plot will still be understandable, but readers without some knowledge of European history (specifically the Crimean War) will miss quite a few references and may even end up muddy on the reasons for the orders that the group is given. There are times when I like subtle little nods at history, but they're best used sparingly. I guess you could make the argument that readers who don't know the references will be on the same occasionally-confused ground as the characters, it's just less satisfying that way, though.I'm still rating this one three stars, because for all its faults, I enjoyed the world-building, the introduction of the group, and their early scenes on the journey. I also appreciated that the author was trying to work with some deeper themes through Bell-Fairfax's character, though I don't think the book was entirely successful in that respect.I won this one from the Goodreads giveaway program.

  • Brenda
    2019-02-09 09:11

    No Mendoza, no romance, and the humor is lower-key than some of the other Company books. Those are pluses for me.I really like the books that go into Company secrets, but this isn't one of those either. That is, the Company is never mentioned directly. We spend a brief time with Edward in his childhood and then follow as he's taken in by the mysterious Gentleman’s Speculative Society. It starts to seem like a spy novel set in the mid 19th century. The techno-gadgets might seem like it's a James Bond type story, but Edward seems more like he belongs in a light steampunk John le Carré novel.Edward isn't going to spell out his thoughts and feelings as he gets his first faint glimpses of what's going on. It's all laid out on the pages buffet style (take what you want). This is a big plus for me, and makes me want to rave about the skill of an author who can do it. I didn't care about Edward before this, but now I want to read the whole series again.Four stars are because I really enjoyed reading this. The 5th is because I can't get it out of my head. Free will and Frankenstein's monster— or maybe any of us.

  • Kaethe
    2019-02-03 04:10

    This is one I missed in my earlier reading. It fills in the backstory on Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, describing his early life and preparation for use by The Company as part of a nineteenth-century British brotherhood of secret agents, armed with clever tech and a team of clever chaps. We're even introduced to a women's auxiliary.As much as I love the steampunky intrigue, the travel, the adventures, I do have a problem. For all that Baker can come up with fascinating scenarios, she just can't conceive of women as being useful outside their traditional roles. The auxiliary consists of clever, fierce, charming, and resourceful women who's primary purpose is sex. It's oddly stereotypical, where Bell-Fairfax is an early Bond. Either suffering from a lack of historical precedents or a failure of imagination, or both, Baker just can't seem to imagine a women collecting valuable intel as, say, a laundress, or barmaid. Still, it's pretty much the only problem I have with the series.Mostly a fun romp, with enough moments of serious reflection to keep it from feeling all froth.Library copy.

  • Leah
    2019-01-20 11:26

    An enthralling exercise in moving the plot forwards, a story with no antagonists (not really), and very little to push the characters on, apart from a vague sense of duty and the thrill of science and secrecy. Although it says it is the first Company novel, it clearly isn't, and probably means more to someone who's read other Company novels. Despite its lack of what one might call traditional plot, it is nevertheless compelling in its scene setting and technological slyness. The farce of Victorian gentlemen on a grand tour covering up a dark secret mission was eminently enjoyable and remarkably lacking in hysterics. While the characters were developed in their own ways - Bell-Fairfax's curiously limitless abilities, Hobson's unfortunate penchant for drink - they weren't the foundation on which the book was built, tending to blend into one another a lot of the time. It really reads more like an in-the-know prequel for those who do know, and an interesting view in the window, for those who don't. I flew through it, and would definitely read another in the series given the chance.

  • Steve
    2019-01-22 09:11

    I picked this book up on my library's new fiction, but not rental shelf. It is about book 14 in the Kage Baker's "company" series. I don't plan on catching up on the books in this series. The book involves a secret society that is about saving the world, with chapters across the world. There is a loose plot, but the book is about the characters using "technoligica" in part given to them by a time traveling future member who tells them what is going to happen in terms of war and even investment tips. One of the characters is somewhat of a golem (look that one up for yourself). He can speak and does have a soul however. This book does not make my recommended list.

  • Samantha
    2019-02-08 05:32

    Interesting backstory on the origins & early escapades of Edward Bell-Fairfax, who figures in the later Company novels with Mendoza. Not quite as well structured as some of the other novels, and it ends somewhat abruptly, but still a worthwhile read for those who enjoyed the Company series. You can read this without having read all of the other entries in the series.

  • Tom Loock
    2019-02-14 04:17

    I consider myself a big fan of Kage Baker and her Company-series and have now read all those stories and novels. Though this is classified as the 9th book in the series, the connection to the series is very thin indeed - one major character (Bell Fairfax) and a perennial villain plus the unspoken implication that the 'Gentlemen's Speculative Society' is a forerunner of 'Zeus, Inc.'On the positive side, this is a nice enough steampunk novel and it connects the Company to the women of Nell Gwynne. Sadly the plot is a straightforward line of stringed episodes without any real drama and after 300+ pages I still do not care about any of the four main characters ...

  • Mark
    2019-02-15 08:10

    Not Less Than GodsBy Kage BakerPublisher: Tor / Tom Doherty and AssocPublished In: New York City, NY, USADate: 2010Pgs: 319REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERSSummary:Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, the issue of a secret society’s meddling in genetics, is raised a bastard in an absent adopted family situation. The society takes care of his needs and forces him along the paths that they want him to follow: schooling, Navy, etc. On his return from the Navy, the society initiates him in full, training him for the missions that they are going to need his mighty skills for.Clockwork opponents and steam-powered vehicles as a Victorian world prepares for war, Bell-Fairfax finds himself a cog in a machine playing a game of centuries and power.They’ve created the most dangerous man alive...and he’s an idealist. Control may be an issue.Genre:fiction, alternate world, time travel, alternate historyWhy this book:The blurb on the cover.This Story is About:duty, honor, and the doing of bad things in the service of good causesFavorite Character:Favorite has to be Bell-Fairfax. He is the central, main character. He is the hero, after a fashion. Least Favorite Character: Hobson the drunk. How he hid his shortcomings from those who trained him isn’t explained, but he had to have already been when he joined the Society.Character I Most Identified With:Ludbridge. He does his job. He does it well. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly.The Feel:The story feels a bit like standing on top of a tinderbox about to burst into flame must be. It’s Stephen King level anxiety, but that’s the kind of feeling I got. I would compare the feel behind this story to the feeling I got when reading The Stand. Not that horror lurked around every corner, but that these characters travel through a world on the verge of a shattering war.Favorite Scene:When, while on patrol, Bell-Fairfax finds a willing partner for an afternoon delight in a Greek bazaar shop.Settings:London; Beirut; Jerusalem; Africa; the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society HQ; Istambul; Sebastopol; a deep Earth railroad; Aalbourg, Denmark; St. PetersburgPacing:The pacing is awesome.Plot Holes/Out of Character:N/ALast Page Sound:Definitely need to read more of these.Author Assessment:Really liked the story. Will be checking out more by this author.Editorial Assessment:Well edited.Did the Book Cover Reflect the Story:Very steampunk. Nicely done.Hmm Moments:The sum feels greater than its parts. None of the scene leapt at me, but in total, they hang together very nicely.Knee Jerk Reaction:really good bookDisposition of Book:Irving Public Library, Irving, TXWhy isn’t there a screenplay?It would make an excellent movie. But I doubt it would be made since it trolls the waters that the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen explored and it will be difficult getting a studio to invest in a movie of that type again.Casting call:I could see Patrick Stewart as Ludbridge.Ewan McGregor would have been incredible as Bell-Fairfax.Oliver Platt could have been Hobson.And though it would be a small part, Ian McKellen as Richardson, the butler who took care of Bell-Fairfax in his youth when his adopted parents promptly disappeared after his coming to live with them. Small, but important part.Would recommend to:genre fans

  • Emily
    2019-02-01 11:31

    I first encountered this author's work with her novella The Women of Nell Gwynne's and was immediately informed that my not having read the rest of the stories in her Company series was a crying shame.Well, I'm still no further along in reading the rest of the Company novels, but I picked this one up by chance at the library- it's a sort of companion novel/bonus features that tells the story of one Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, and his rise through the ranks of the Gentlemen's Speculative Society. While I think I could have benefited from a more thorough knowledge of the series and the world that serves as the setting, this was an interesting enough, albeit oddly paced, story that was worth an impulse grab at the library.Mr. Bell-Fairfax only ever wanted to be a hero, and he tries all kinds of ways to make that happen. One might speculate that he's trying to overcome a rather dubious beginning as the product of a less-than-honorable encounter between a lady in England and a mysterious gentleman (a situation that some might call date rape, which I would totally understand and do not support.) The point of the encounter is to show that although the Society will go to any lengths to support their operatives and further their aims of utopia through technologia, the ways in which they go about doing those things are squicky in the extreme. Nothing is free, after all, and that theme follows Edward throughout the entire course of the novel. Edward ultimately has to decide for himself what it means to be a man and what it means to be a hero; it takes a lot for him to finally arrive at a conclusion and not everyone would feel it's the right one.The setting of the story is incredibly detailed and the technology of the Society is interesting to read about; these aspects went a long way to disguising the fact that the story was basically one big trip across Europe with random battles against bad guys thrown in. The ancillary characters are interesting but don't get a lot of face time; the ladies at Nell Gwynne's put in an appearance as well, in sharp contrast to the icky situation that starts off the book.If you're a die hard fan of the series, it might be worth it to read this book just to have read all the titles. I'm interested in reading the rest of the series from the beginning, which may improve my understanding of this book somewhat.Overall Grade: CRead more reviews and other good stuff at What Book is That?

  • Deborah Ross
    2019-01-19 07:13

    I have come late to Kage Baker's work. The good part of that is how many wonderful books I have yet to discover; the sad part, that I cannot tell her how much I enjoy them. So I must confess that NOT LESS THAN GODS is the first book of "The Company" I have read. For those familiar with this world, a story of "how it all started" furnishes background to characters and situations already known. The litmus test of such a tale, however, is whether it stands on its own without any referents. In short, this one does, and more, just what I would expect from Kage Baker.On the surface, NOT LESS THAN GODS is a sort of steam punk, secret society, coming of age story, as agents of the British branch of a clandestine organization attempt to direct the course of history in the mid-19th Century. Readers will recognize some actual events, like the Crimean War. The settings range from stolid to exotic as our characters travel eastward across Europe to Russia. Woven through the various missions is the story of one particular character, conceived and raised under mysterious circumstances. Clearly, Edward Bell-Fairfax has been shaped as the perfect assassin; he's almost superhumanly strong, tall, intelligent, with mesmeric persuasive talents. However, he also has a conscience, ideals, the capacity for compassion. If he brings to mind Frankenstein's monster (and there is a single brief reference to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley on the first page), or the golem to which he is compared later in the book, he differs from both in being his own creation. For me, the most moving parts of the story involved his dawning understanding of the moral consequences of the uses and misuses of the tremendous powers with which he has been endowed. Certainly, he can seduce a woman in such a way that she desires the encounter, but what at what cost to her--and to himself? Likewise, the assassinations he is called to execute force him to examine relative and absolute values. What is one life against many? When does a target stop being a cardboard figure and resolve into a human being? What is the cost of taking a life, regardless of the justification? This depth of examination, coupled with an unwavering moral center, imbue the pages with a complexity, unity, and emotional meaning far beyond any simple adventure.

  • MB (What she read)
    2019-02-08 10:28

    It's a new Kage Baker--Yay! I'm guessing the last Kage Baker? (Such a loss.)This one is wonderful! A little slow to start, but really takes off. It's a coming-of-age/victorian-era travelogue/mystery/spy story/ steampunk novel set in time before Mendoza in Hollywood about Edward Alton-Bell's early life. (Edward was never a favorite character of mine--at least at first--so I was looking forward to this with both anticipation AND trepidation.)I don't know if I'd recommend that you read it YET if you haven't already finished The Company Series. Chronologically (if that counts for this series) that's where it would fit, but I think it might 'spoil you' for what comes in the rest of the series. I strongly recommend that this series be read in PUBLICATION DATE order, (including the short story compilations). Each book builds on the previous and it will spoil your enjoyment if you skip around. Let her wow you with her mastery of the slow reveal as she puts the pieces together, ties up the red herrings, and shows you how everything and everyone fits together. I was always amazed by how many there were and how well she kept her balls in the air as an author--juggling multiple characters, plots, settings, and eras.This was an amazing series and I am so sorry to have it come to an end! Kage's sly sense of humor was unique. The 'world' that she created for The Company novels was fascinating, the plots were entirely unpredictable and surprising--you never knew what she'd pull out of her sleeve, she was full of knowledge about weird bits of history, and I loved everything she wrote!

  • Stuart Dean
    2019-01-23 05:32

    The early life of Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. Steampunk style. Edward is cashiered from the Navy and joins the Gentleman's Speculative Society, which is basically a James Bond type organization, or more accurately reminiscent of the movie "Kingsmen". Gentleman adventurers trained in spycraft serving Queen Victoria while being sure to dress for dinner and not miss afternoon tea. We follow Edward's training and learn that the Society has been around for centuries and has access to future tech, so in 1850 they have radios and night vision goggles and color photography. Edward joins a group of three other gentleman spies and they travel to Turkey to collect covert intelligence for the upcoming Crimean War. They cross another secret society with less altruistic intentions. Edward is still in his twenties and somewhat naive. This first mission shows how he went from an idealistic young man who would face the gallows to save an ill-treated sailor to becoming the uncaring killing machine he is when we he has his first unfortunate encounter with Mendoza. The story is fun and entertaining, the allusions to future events in the Crimea are there for people familiar with the conflict, and the character development of Edward is well done. My one problem is that I prefer that my steampunk heroes from 1850 not have better equipment than what is available today. Steam powered zeppelins and air rifles are OK. Radios that can receive transmissions from entire continents away without the benefit of relay towers or satellites and ice rifles, not so much.

  • Dave
    2019-02-12 08:28

    I was so intrigued by the premise of the book: a steampunk Sherlock Holmes joins a secret society of technologically-advanced spies who take it upon themselves to drive the course of history. They travel to exotic places and engage in 19th-century espionage and derring-do while playing with sweet gadgets. It breaks down into tedium from the get-go. We hear a prolonged, detached history of our protagonist's upbringing. He's inducted into the society of surprisingly benign spies, and takes on a series of almost completely unconnected training and reconnaissance missions. blah blah blah. One of the endorsements on the book mourns that Baker never receives the accolades she deserves. There's a reason she's not famous: the characters are infinitesimally shallow; the plot is segmented video-game style (go here, kill this guy, discover this new device, move to next round); the only real threats experienced by our band of protagonists are inebriation and venereal disease. I'm starting to think that Baker produced this book by transcribing a lengthy round of late-night role-playing games. By page 200 I was so uninterested I gave up.This book had all of the necessary ingredients to be gripping, but fell flat in every way. I expected the main character to remind me of Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes, but he was more of a Shadow from American Gods (sans angst). Bottom line: Baker has an excellent command of words, but she fails to do anything meaningful with them.

  • D.L. Morrese
    2019-01-29 08:09

    The last Company novel Kage Baker published before her death is set in the mid-nineteenth century and follows the exploits of the genetically engineered Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax while on his first real assignment for the mysterious organization known as the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society. Because of the setting, this novel has a “steampunk” feel to it and includes the Society’s use of information and technology supplied from the future, presumably by the Company. This book shows the more human side of Bell-Fairfax and his efforts to understand some of his unique abilities and justify the grizzly work of political assassinations he is called on to perform. The previous Company books in which he appeared presented him as arrogant and egotistical while this one shows him more like a cross between Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Spiderman. Although there is a lot of action in this book, the central conflict is internal to the main character and his struggle to reconcile selfish needs, compassion, respect, idealism, loyalty, and duty.

  • Traci Loudin
    2019-01-20 09:08

    Was really hoping this book would be interesting, because I've been wanting to read some good steampunk. Unfortunately, I'm on page 115 and just never got engaged with the book. It starts out focused on some servants of the house watching this boy grow up. You might get a little attached to the military fellow, but then the boy is all grown up, and we start following him. The house staff are somewhat forgotten.The boy thinks he's going to save the world... But interestingly, there's no conflict. Leaves the reader feeling like nothing is really happening. I appreciate that the book is written in a Victorian style/voice, but I was hoping it would follow traditional character, plot, conflict ideals nonetheless. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was when the leader of this small band has the others plant a listening device, and when they ask what it is, he says all in due time... And then later is impatient that they don't know what it is. It may pick up more later, but I'm stopping here.

  • Bettie
    2019-01-23 03:15

    Kage Baker has written many books I adore. Not Less Than Gods is not one of them. It just isn't fun. Part of the problem is that the hero of this novel, Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, was such a smug, smarmy, and smashing anti-hero in other books. Seeing all the sad circumstances that led to Edward's selfish, semi-sociopathic ways was a humorless drag. The only reason I finished this book was because it was the second-to-last Kage Baker book I hadn't read, and the thought of there being no more new Baker books made me determined to cherish and savor the ones I had. I really, really wish this were a better book. I can't imagine it being enjoyable to anyone but die-hard Baker fans, and only then because we miss her so very much.

  • Me
    2019-01-28 04:33

    the Bechdel Test asks three things of a film: Does it include at least two female characters? Do they speak to each other? Do they speak about anything besides a man?" I was horrified to see that this book was written by a woman, as it does not pass the Bechdel test. It was a dry account of some Englishmen playing with steam punk toys and either pretending to be drunk or actually drunk, with an occasional fight scene. Basically a pale imitation of James Bond if he was a century older. I read a lot, in many genres and like nearly everything I read, but I was actually motivated to join this site (I formerly just read the reviews to find new books to read) just to say how bad this book stinks. Phew.

  • Alina
    2019-01-30 06:31

    This novel is set in the same universe as The Garden of Iden (in which a Company of time travelers meddles with history), but isn't as good. It centers around a Frankenstein-like figure whose birth is arranged, and formative years stage-managed, by the Company's mysterious puppet master. Kage Baker handles the novel's pseudo-Victorian style beautifully, along with the period dialog and coined names for anachronistic technology. For me as an aspiring writer, the author's mastery of language inspires envy. But the Victorian novel conventions also keep the characters at arm's length, making it hard to connect emotionally with the story. Despite the fun steam punk bits and clever winks at the reader, I almost didn't finish it.

  • Diana Gotsch
    2019-02-15 08:31

    If you have read Kage Baker's The Company series this book will make a lot more sense. It never really explains who or more correctly what Edward Bell-Fairfax is. Nor does it explain what the Company is what it is really up to. In fact the name Company is never used for the people manipulating the past for their own reasons. I suspect it could be very confusing for a novice reader of this series.It is the tale of Edward's life before we meet him in Mendoza in Hollywood. It helps explain the man in that book. Someone who has not read the whole Company series will miss some of the irony when the characters in this book talk about the glorious future they are helping bring about. It is also a lot bloodier than most of the other books.

  • Ladysatel
    2019-02-15 08:26

    This is a book of The Company, a secret group outside of any Government. It is what is calssified as a Steampunk novel. In the early years of the 20th century agents of The Company are involved in stopping attempts by nefarious forces to overthrow governments. An experienced agent takes a group of 4 newly trained agents on a long trip through several continents to foil the plans of a group which plans to assassinate the Russian Czar. The Company has been instrumental in helping to train the oldest son of the current Czar to be a better ruler. They are trailed by a group of black clad assassins posing as religious tourists.A rousing good read if you like this type of story.

  • Alisa
    2019-02-17 08:19

    I read some of the reviews after I began the book, and having finished, can see why some readers were disappointed. In fact, I pretty much understood why even at that early stage, but felt compelled to read on given the countless hours of enjoyment Ms. Baker's "The Company" series has given me over the years. This book perhaps serves best as a footnote, albeit a lengthy one, to the first introduction of Edward Bell-Fairfax to the reader in that series. It does serve as a biography of Edward's early years, and not much more, other than a look at some of the other entities working to save the world. Sadly, Ms. Baker left our world much too soon.

  • Jeremy Preacher
    2019-02-06 11:24

    Not Less Than Gods actually works better than some of the arc-focused Company novels, I think, although Edward ranks very low on my list of favorite characters. Spies running around Victorian Europe with mysterious technology and knowledge of future events is fun, whatever flaws the book has.And it has them - really this is a character study, not a novel. There's no clear plot, no particular resolution. It's just a collection of setpieces. It does make me badly want to hunt down The Women of Nell Gwynne's, though, because I do enjoy the setting, and expensive hookers would be much more fun to follow than Mr. Self-Righteous and Neurotic.

  • Jenne
    2019-02-13 04:33

    There was a lot of cool stuff in this book, but the people were pretty boring. And there was a whole lot of action, but not really in service of anything. But the train was awesome. I loved the train:"It resembled a giant serpent made of gleaming brass. The riveted apertures of its eyes were windows, behind whose pale transparency a pair of uniformed men could be glimpsed, apparently seated at a control panel. In its grinning jaws it held a faceted jewel, which threw a brilliant beam of light forward."

  • Greg
    2019-02-13 03:34

    Neither interesting, entertaining, well-written, nor compelling in any way. It quickly became trashy, boring, convoluted and confusing. I quit reading it without finishing it.I'm beginning to wonder why I even bother to begin reading modern novels. Most aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and are light years less interesting than history, biographies, and other non-fiction. I still like some if the older fiction that's been around for awhile, but only rarely do I run across fiction written in the last 20 years that holds my attention.