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  1. #1
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    Parasol Protectorate

    So TIMELESS, the final book in The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger, comes out TOMORROW! Who else has read these books? I'd love to discuss them with you, because they're some of my favorite novels.

    The voice is amazing. Setting, characters, descriptions... it all just floors me every time I read the books. In fact, they're the first books that ever inspired me to write a real review!

    Anyone else looking forward to this book? What about the next series she comes out with? I am sad that the series is going to be over, though

  2. #2
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I read Soulless when it first published. I liked the premise and I think Gail has a great voice, but the book didn't work for me as well as I hoped.

    She's carved out something pretty interesting with this series and I find it very impressive that she's knocked out so many books in such a short time.

    One of those books/series where "I see the good things going on in the series, but I didn't quite connect with it."

  3. #3
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    I don't think they've been picked up too much here.

    They're very much paranormal romance books disguised as steampunk, and I think Rob has liked it the most out of him, myself and Mark (the other main reviewer), and few other members have been open about reading them.

  4. #4
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I read Soulless too and mean to read some more in the series when I get the chance. It's a great satiric series with a lovely Wodehouse feel to it mixed with touches of spy thriller and horror. It's also a really interesting premise, I think. I want to find out more what she does with it. And no, Loweryn, it is not a paranormal romance. The first book has a fair amount of romance sub-plot to it, however; the others less so as the main couple is then married. A lot of the comedy comes from the romance part, but she's basically using all of Victoriana to work with. If you ever read Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence mysteries, it's kind of like that.
    Last edited by KatG; February 29th, 2012 at 02:07 PM.

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    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Gail has been on a few of the podcast I listen to regularly (primarily SF SIGNAL's podcast) and I think she mentioned she's going to be publishing a side-quel type of series focusing on supporting characters from the world.

  6. #6
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    And no, Loweryn, it is not a paranormal romance. The first book has a fair amount of romance sub-plot to it
    Yes, 'twas a paranormal romance as she hooked up with a werewolf (I think). Might be wrong on the later books, but my point still stands

    Maybe I'm just being my usual "ROMANCE SUCKS!" self.

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    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Actually, Kat, I've got to agree with Loewryn. How is it NOT a romance? A great amount of the narrative energy of the novel is focused on Alexia's taboo romance with Maccon.

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    Jack Bauer Bastard's Avatar
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    I've read the first 3, I enjoyed the first one a bit with the comedy of manners aspect of it, but since then haven't cared much for them to be honest.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    I read Soulless too and mean to read some more in the series when I get the chance. It's a great satiric series with a lovely Wodehouse feel to it mixed with touches of spy thriller and horror. It's also a really interesting premise, I think. I want to find out more what she does with it. And no, Loweryn, it is not a paranormal romance. The first book has a fair amount of romance sub-plot to it, however; the others less so as the main couple is then married. A lot of the comedy comes from the romance part, but she's basically using all of Victoriana to work with. If you ever read Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence mysteries, it's kind of like that.
    Well, Kat, you've just tweaked my interest. When I was a teen I loved the Tommy and Tuppence mysteries almost as much as Christie's Poirot mysteries.

    I picked up Soulless over the holidays. Now to find time to read it ...


    Randy M.

  10. #10
    I read a sample from Soulless just a few days ago, and it looked interesting. I thought the humor was appealing, but I also thought that it could get grating depending on how it was handled over the course of the whole book. I've heard about these off and on, maybe I'll get around to em one of these days....

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contrarius View Post
    I read a sample from Soulless just a few days ago, and it looked interesting. I thought the humor was appealing, but I also thought that it could get grating depending on how it was handled over the course of the whole book. I've heard about these off and on, maybe I'll get around to em one of these days....
    I think it's handled very well because it doesn't get overbearing. I found that it's actually quite subtle if you listen to the audio version because the narrator does a great job understating the humor.

    Loerwyn, I have to disagree with you on the Para-romance. Yes, there's romance in the book, but it's a sub-plot. Since it's not the focus of the story, it's (technically) a Paranormal/Steampunk. But to be fair to you, I'm quibbling over semantics.

  12. #12
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy M. View Post
    Well, Kat, you've just tweaked my interest. When I was a teen I loved the Tommy and Tuppence mysteries almost as much as Christie's Poirot mysteries.

    I picked up Soulless over the holidays. Now to find time to read it ...


    Randy M.
    The horror aspect is light, though there. She's very good at action writing and there are several good, tense action scenes. The mysteries aren't terribly difficult but the spy/intelligence agency aspects in there are a lot of fun. There's a little of the Avengers t.v. show to it, perhaps, certainly in the coyness while fighting off creatures with umbrellas in evening clothes. And of course, the nods to Austen, Trollope and Dickens in satiric vein. Sometimes I would agree that she overdid the joking in ways that don't always quite work, but I suspect that's an issue that probably improves in the later books as she got more into the mythology and universe she's set up.

    That universe is alternate Earth and is a bit steampunky -- there are inventions and mad scientist labs, but if you're looking for super steampunky, this is not the series for that. The series is about a woman in the lower levels of the upper class in England whose secret is that she was born without a soul, which makes her part of something in the far past who were sort of highly feared supernatural cops, and this has all sorts of effects in that universe and mysteries about her being in that condition and political shifts in various supernatural populaces in relation to the changing age of the setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobB
    Actually, Kat, I've got to agree with Loewryn. How is it NOT a romance? A great amount of the narrative energy of the novel is focused on Alexia's taboo romance with Maccon.
    We've been over this before. There is a difference between romantic stories which have strong romance elements/sub-plots and romance novels, particularly paranormal romance which is a very specific thing. Romance media is happy to review any story with romantic elements -- they aren't picky -- and publishers will market to them in addition to their other efforts, but that does not make them romances. It makes them mysteries, westerns, fantasy novels, etc. (Jim Butcher won a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, for instance.)

    Romantic stories are very common in satire such as a favorite Wodehouse novel of mine, The Plot That Thickened. Romantic stories abound in fantasy: Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night, K.A. Stewart's Jesse James Dawson series, Simon R. Green's Hawk & Fisher series, Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, Dan Simmons' The Hollow Man, Jesse Petersen's Married with Zombies, Emma Bull's Tombstone, Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue, etc.

    But romance novels are things like Richard Matheson's Somewhere in Time. Paranormal romances are a sub-category of category romance that uses fantasy elements. They are focused on a romance that develops between two people, rather than one person having a romance in the course of dealing with other things. In a romance series, books are set in the same universe, but will have a different main couple each time. (If more than one author is writing in the series, it's called a continuity series.) Lilith Saintcrow's Watcher series, David H. Burton's Broken: A Paranormal Romance, Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, etc., these are paranormal romances.

    The Parasol Protectorate series is about Alexia Tarabotti and her unique abilities. The first novel deals with her effect on vampires and strange goings on in the vampire community, with the sub-plot of her falling in love with her acquaintance, Lord Maccon, a werewolf in the secret service essentially. The second is Alexia on her own dealing with ghosts. The third book has Alexia leaving her marriage and going to Italy in search of the Templars for answers about who she is. The fourth book deals with ghosts, zombies and suffragettes. In the fifth book, Alexia is called to Egypt and deals with a plague. That is not a paranormal romance series. (Nor is Piers Anthony's Xanth series, despite the fact that it spends lots of time on romance in the first book in the series, A Spell for Chameleon.)

    However, if you really don't like romance at all in your stories, don't read any of the authors I mentioned above. And if you don't like comedy of manners style stories, this series is not for you. If you do like authors like Suzanne Collins, P.G. Wodehouse, Stephen Fry, Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, etc., then you might like the series.

  13. #13
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    I've read the first three books and I loved them. They are a bit light on substance but fun to read. I am mostly greatful to them for introducing me to the character of Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters - the original mold in which Miss Tarabotti was cast.
    I am also glad the series is closing, I believe a series with more than 6-8 books with the same main character is a little self-indulgent and will get repetitive or decrease in quality. Miles Vorkossigan, Garrett P.I. and Vlad Taltos being the exceptions to this rule of mine.

  14. #14
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post


    We've been over this before. There is a difference between romantic stories which have strong romance elements/sub-plots and romance novels, particularly paranormal romance which is a very specific thing. Romance media is happy to review any story with romantic elements -- they aren't picky -- and publishers will market to them in addition to their other efforts, but that does not make them romances. It makes them mysteries, westerns, fantasy novels, etc. (Jim Butcher won a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, for instance.)

    Romantic stories are very common in satire such as a favorite Wodehouse novel of mine, The Plot That Thickened. Romantic stories abound in fantasy: Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night, K.A. Stewart's Jesse James Dawson series, Simon R. Green's Hawk & Fisher series, Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, Dan Simmons' The Hollow Man, Jesse Petersen's Married with Zombies, Emma Bull's Tombstone, Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, Christopher Moore's Coyote Blue, etc.

    But romance novels are things like Richard Matheson's Somewhere in Time. Paranormal romances are a sub-category of category romance that uses fantasy elements. They are focused on a romance that develops between two people, rather than one person having a romance in the course of dealing with other things. In a romance series, books are set in the same universe, but will have a different main couple each time. (If more than one author is writing in the series, it's called a continuity series.) Lilith Saintcrow's Watcher series, David H. Burton's Broken: A Paranormal Romance, Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, etc., these are paranormal romances.

    The Parasol Protectorate series is about Alexia Tarabotti and her unique abilities. The first novel deals with her effect on vampires and strange goings on in the vampire community, with the sub-plot of her falling in love with her acquaintance, Lord Maccon, a werewolf in the secret service essentially. The second is Alexia on her own dealing with ghosts. The third book has Alexia leaving her marriage and going to Italy in search of the Templars for answers about who she is. The fourth book deals with ghosts, zombies and suffragettes. In the fifth book, Alexia is called to Egypt and deals with a plague. That is not a paranormal romance series. (Nor is Piers Anthony's Xanth series, despite the fact that it spends lots of time on romance in the first book in the series, A Spell for Chameleon.)
    I know we've been over it before, but my contention here is that you don't have Soulless without the romance element, it drives the narrative and Alexia's actions to such a great deal that makes it essential to the novel.

    I suppose in this case, we'll have to agree to disagree.

    I haven't read beyond the first book, so I can't make any valid statements about those.

  15. #15
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    I know we've been over it before, but my contention here is that you don't have Soulless without the romance element, it drives the narrative and Alexia's actions to such a great deal that makes it essential to the novel.

    I suppose in this case, we'll have to agree to disagree.

    I haven't read beyond the first book, so I can't make any valid statements about those.
    We will have to disagree. The series could have just as easily killed the guy off and it still would have continued, including the vampire plot of the first book. It was not essential, except as a sub-plot to how her character developed and satirizing Jane Austen, etc. Likewise, while the romance was very essential to A Spell for Chameleon -- and much less removable from the comic plot, being the lynchpin for the main conflict -- that doesn't make Xanth a romance series, nor would you ever call it such, despite there being central romance plots to about half of the books in the series.

    When you guys start talking about male written series being paranormal romances on a regular basis, I'll buy the it doesn't matter that the author is a woman, it's just that the romance is so central argument. Until then, I will continue to believe that when I read a comic spy thriller fantasy or an urban thriller fantasy or a secondary world novel about a female warrior averting a war that the books are actually those things, even if the character also has sex or falls in love, just as I do with male authors writing about women or men characters whose romance plots and sub-plots somehow are never oh so central that you would call them romances.

    In the case of The Parasol Protectorate series, it's meant to be a comic thriller series with a strong romance element, a strong spy element, a milder steampunk element and a very strong Victoriana focus. So one question is does she pull off the tone of deliberately anachronistic Austen, Trollope, etc. I think overall she does. She's inventive, good with action as I said before, a little heavy on the jokes, nice characters.

    If you liked The Parasol Protectorate series, you might also like Tea with Black Dragon by R.A. McAvoy (not a romance,) and Patricia Wrede's Magic & Malice duology (not a romance.)

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