I’m a great fan of Kage Baker’s Company novels, but I found The Children of the Company annoying.
It’s not really a novel, first off; it’s really an amalgamation of short stories. So forget about narrative flow. It’s just patched together by the character Labienus.
And Labienus is a most unpleasant character, for second; he’s a disaffected mortal who is the epitome of a misanthrope. And he’s not Mendoza. Readers want to know! Where’s Mendoza? For that matter, where are most of the previously introduced major characters? Back stories for some of them are fleshed out here, and one character does seem to be disposed of. But in general the grand story arc isn’t advanced.
I felt like I needed a character chart like you use when you read a Russian novel or an annotated timeline. Many of the short stories here intersect, in minor or major ways, with episodes in the other novels or other short stories. But really, do I want to read a book of short stories that just drop tidbits about the larger story?
I know an author’s purpose in writing is bound to be different from my purpose in reading. But this made me want to say: Kage Baker, stop stringing us along. Get on with it and finish the story you’ve started.