Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Serial Killers' Featured Review: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Want to know more about the idea behind Serial Killers? This post is the place to start.

This month's book is Timeless the 5th book in the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. I'm the established reader and Odd is new to the series...

Synopsis (Goodreads)
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?
Odd's Thoughts: So, I'm the new reader here, if only by a technicality. You see, I've read the first book in the series, Soulless, and I struggled a little with it, for two reasons. One, I had never read a Regency before. Hang on, that'll be important in a minute.

But two was that Lord Akeldama got right up my left nostril. I found him so over the top, so hard to conceive of as a character and be in any way believable that I stomped right off into the night. But, sometime later, I ran across a suggestion, I think in Carriger's own blog (which is frequently hilarious and always worth a stop) that Lord Akeldama is, in fact, alive and well in the 21st century and going by the name Austin Scarlett.

And y'all, I love Austin Scarlett. I am Team Austin, even with the John Waters mustache that appeared during All-Stars.

And once we got that cleared up, I was able to enjoy Timeless a whole heck of a lot more than Soulless. In fact I made it as far as page 66 (Asphodel as a tea sandwich) before I stopped reading.

Oh stop with the gasping and the carrying on. I stopped reading because I simply must go back and reread the rest of the series before reading this book.

There are a lot of things in just the first fifty pages of the book that depend on the reader's prior knowledge of the series; I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason Alexia et al are living in Austin Scarlett's third closet, and pretty much five pages in I was dying to know what that reason was. Luckily, there's a way to find that out.

As for Alexia...yeah, she's still full of herself. (I know! So many opinions and yet only fifty pages in. Call your Congressman to complain). However, I am starting to believe that being full of yourself is a hallmark of a Regency heroine.

A dear friend of mine who grew up reading Georgette Heyer novels and horse books nearly exclusively, bemoans the fact that I have not read one single Heyer. Far be it from me to be a disappointment; I started with The Convenient Marriage and The Masqueraders, where indeed Horatia and Letitia were both really full of themselves. As was Robin, but seeing how I really wanted Robin to end up being worn by Sir Anthony like a feedbag, my problems with that book were pretty unreconcilable. And yes, I did just make a conclusion about all Regency heroines on the strength of two Heyers and 1.2 Carrigers. Woo! Livin' on the edge!

I still don't think all spinsters need marrying, though.

My Thoughts: I'm a little sad to see this series put to rest. The only thing that's helping me bear this pain, at the moment, is the knowledge that there are two spinoff series in the works. One of the things I've consistently enjoyed is how complex this world is. I'm so very, very glad that we're going to get more stories set here, even if Alexia, Conall and their menagerie of supernatural friends aren't the main focus.

I've always loved Alexia's very pragmatic outlook on life. Being soulless, she's extremely literal and, as it turns out, motherhood hasn't changed her all that much. Conall is her polar opposite and you wouldn't think the two of them would work together as a couple but they are absolutely adorable. I do love a man who gives his wife's neck a good snuffle upon occasion.

Picking up roughly two years after the last book, Prudence is a precocious toddler and Lord and Lady Maccon have settled nicely into their odd living arrangement in Lord Akeldama's third closet. In inimitable Alexia fashion, they're soon heading off to Egypt - with Ivy and her acting troupe in tow - to meet with a very old vampire. Let's just say that Alexia's parasol gets a workout on this journey, Prudence is an adorable little beast, and Ivy's hats are still questionable.

There were times, especially in the beginning, where the language was a little much. For me, that tapered off once I got back into the swing of this world. Alexia and her friends aren't afraid to use a dozen words to say what Conall could sometimes say with one. In some ways, this ... verboseness adds to the charm of these books. However, falling back into the speech patterns did take a little doing.

Overall, this was a great ending to a series that I've loved. The setup for Prudence's book was masterfully done and with so many of these characters being immortal, I expect we'll see plenty of old favorites again.

Kelly: So. Let's talk steampunk. First off, is this a genre you enjoy dabbling in?

Odd:  It is! I like my steampunk a little darker than the Parasol Protectorate, I think, because they strike me as being these very clever Regency comedies with steampunk tacked on, whereas I'm more a fan of integrated steampunk, where it's driving the story. Like in Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke, or Dru Pagliotti's Clockwork Heart. Plus I'm still working on getting through Bath Tangle, so it's kind of an uphill battle for me with Regency in some ways. I have to ask, though, do you read Regency?

Kelly: I do. That's one of the genres I fall back on when I need a breather from my (nearly) undying love for all things paranormal. But just to clarify, I tend to like the Regency Historical Romances with a lot of steamy sex. Those quivering virgins and virile sons of Dukes are fascinating!

Odd: This is possibly where I am having issues with Regencies, as my comments about Robin, above illustrate.

Although I've just thought of that whatnot, um, Regency with the Kraken. Kilts and Krakens! Or is that Victorian, not Regency? I'm terrible with my historical time periods. But what I want to know is whether the other books in this series have more steampunk in them or whether you'd agree with the assessment that the Parasol Protectorate is Regency with steampunk tacked on.

Kelly: Well, it has the paranormal down pat (hello, werewolves and soulless and vampires!) but this book was light on the gadgets and gizmos. I think the other books in the series use steampunk props a lot more in the overall plot (GIANT METAL OCTOPUS, anyone?) but this one definitely toned it down in order to close out the series arc.

Odd: Hold up: are you asserting that steampunk requires paranormal elements? I think I'm missing something here.

(I am so excited about the GMO. The mention of that right at the beginning was the first time I debated stopping and going back to read the series in order because c'mon. GMO. 
What book wouldn't be improved by the addition of a GMO? Bridges of Madison County would've rocked ass. )
Kelly: No, steampunk doesn't *require* paranormal elements but it makes it so much more fun when it has them! C'mon! You must know by now that I'm a sucker for a #NakedWerewolf!

(If Bridges of Madison County had a Giant Metal Octopus in it, I would have been all over that like a drunk girl at a bar!)
Odd: Disagree for the block, Alex. I like more straight ahead steampunk where you can really focus on the internal logic of the world. Naked werewolves have their place, but I'm kind of a gadget-head retold history wonk. When in doubt, add a dirigible. That's my feeling. 
But, that said, you know...66 pages of Regency paranormal steampunk (parasolpunk? has that been coined yet) and I'm willing to commit to the whole series. That, for me, is impressive storytelling power.

Unequivocal Epic Win

Books in this series
1. Soulless
2. Changeless
3. Blameless
4. Heartless
5. Timeless - Paperback | Kindle

Author Links
| Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon |


  1. This is a series that should definitely be read in order. I love this series and I highly recommend it! I can't wait for Pru's series.

    1. It is one that builds on the events in previous books. I'm kind of excited that Odd liked it enough to put it aside so that she could catch up.

  2. Can you read this series out of order? I've been eyeing it for a while. I've only read Gail Carriger's new YA book, though, AND my TBR pile is crazy, so I've been trying to avoid obtaining new books. BUT it does look awesome.

    I'm a little unsure though ... I hate characters that drive me insane and Lord Akeldama sounds like one of those characters!

    Either way ... I still look forward to reading this series!

    1. I *really* don't recommend it. As Odd pointed out, there are a lot of references to things that happened in previous books so jumping in mid-stream kind of took a lot of the fun out of it.

  3. I still need to force myself to finish this book. Maybe after I go on a freebie spree and build up some cushion in my GR challenge. I *will* do it. I WILL!

    1. I will remind you! You can rock your goals while clearing out a series!

    2. I have a couple more freebies I want to read, False Memory (which I started on Tuesday and need to finish), Girl of Nightmares, and then... Timeless.

    3. Tell me when you decide to read Girl of Nightmares and I'll be ALL OVER THAT!

  4. Well Amanda, I've read almost 50 freebies and I've upped my GR Challenge twice now and I still haven't finished Timeless. I really do like the book though and that's the sad part. Maybe I'll pick it up this weekend. And Kristilyn, I wouldn't recommend reading it out of order. Odd is evidently an adventurous soul. So much happens in the other books it might confuse the crap out of you and trust me, you do not want to go into this series confused. o.O It really is a smart, funny series and I love the characters but the writing bogs me down and I have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Plus - I really, really, really did't want the series to end. I'll just call my stalling and procrastination a mental block and leave it at that. *sigh*

    1. Okay, Shirley, I've thought about this all night and I just have to ask: What does the number of freebies you've read or upping your GR challenge have to do with not reading Timeless? I've read... uhh, let's just say that I've read more than 50 freebies at this point and I've also upped my challenge and I've read it.

    2. It was in reference to Amanda's comment. We seem to both be having the same problem reading Timeless so I couldn't help but compare - basically by doing the same thing you just did to me - only I didn't reply to Amanda, just made a general comment. :P I will finish it.... I'm too invested in the series and like it too much not too. I'll admit it's a mental block. Maybe this weekend? Hmm....

    3. Shirley, your comment to me sounded more like a subtle dig over how many freebies and books in general you've read, rather than a comparison. And my comment had NOTHING to do with how many books I've read--it was supposed to mean that I wanted to build up cushion in my GR challenge (which is exactly what I said), because I know it will take me a bit longer to read Timeless. A big part of the reason why I put it down in the first place was because I was behind in my GR challenge and didn't want to waste a week or more reading it and get even more behind. Your comment looked less like a reply to mine, and more like a chance to talk about how many freebies you have read.

    4. Sorry :( That's not how I meant it.

    5. I had the same mental block, to be honest. I didn't want the series to end, so I kept putting off this book. I will say that it ended well, if that helps.

    6. I'm sure it does. The first reason I put it off was because I was trying to read it during Bout-of-Books and it just doesn't lend itself well to quick reading. I just have been procrastinating about picking it up again. It will get read though. Soon I hope ;)