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Not Less Than Gods

(The Company #9)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  81 reviews
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 era ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Tor Books (first published December 31st 2009)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  459 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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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 rea ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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 t
Eva Folsom
Aug 07, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 t ...more
Jan 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi, punk-steam

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 kn
Lady Knight
"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 ...more
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: steampunk, historical
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 li
Brenda (aka Gamma)
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Kaethe Douglas
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 con
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 Victori
May 07, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, scifi
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
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, sf
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.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book, a kind of side novel to the main Company series, tells the story of Edward Bell-Fairfax, one of the key characters in the main series. Taking place prior to Edward’s first meeting with Mendoza, we learn of his childhood, navy service, recruitment into the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society, and development as a GSS agent. We also see how he struggles with his violent tendencies, his idealism, and his astonishing abilities.
Chris Ellis
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Glad that this was not the first of the "Company" books I have read. It is a great series and although entertaining in its own right, this one is not the best of them.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not Less Than Gods
By Kage Baker
Publisher: Tor / Tom Doherty and Assoc
Published In: New York City, NY, USA
Date: 2010
Pgs: 319


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 th
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books

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.
Deborah Ross
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
MB (What she read)
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The Company fans
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 yo
Stuart Dean
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 se ...more
D.L. Morrese
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Traci Loudin
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, steampunk
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 ...more
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 l ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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 inspi ...more
Diana Gotsch
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
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 olde ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ea ...more
Jeremy Preacher
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 Nel
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Born June 10, 1952, in Hollywood, California, and grew up there and in Pismo Beach, present home. Spent 12 years in assorted navy blue uniforms obtaining a good parochial school education and numerous emotional scars. Rapier wit developed as defense mechanism to deflect rage of larger and more powerful children who took offense at abrasive, condescending and arrogant personality in a sickly eight- ...more

Other books in the series

The Company (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1)
  • Sky Coyote (The Company, #2)
  • Mendoza in Hollywood (The Company, #3)
  • The Graveyard Game (The Company, #4)
  • The Life of the World to Come (The Company, #5)
  • The Children of the Company (The Company, #6)
  • The Machine's Child (The Company, #7)
  • The Sons of Heaven (The Company, #8)
  • In the Company of Thieves
  • The Women of Nell Gwynne's