Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: The Parasol Protectorate

And now for something completely different.

The Parasol Protectorate is a steampunk fantasy series by Gail Carriger. It is unashamedly silly and a little bit brilliant. It's literary candy of the best kind, precisely because it doesn't take itself seriously and is written with a great deal of wit.

As before, there are spoilers ahead for the entire series, so if you don't want to be spoiled I suggest you stop reading here.

In Summation

The world for The Parasol Protectorate is pretty standard steampunk, which will either delight you or annoy you depending on your fondness for the sub-genre. There's dirigibles, goggles, clockwork automatons and even a mechanical giant octopus. Steampunk can be a matter of taste, and as it is very much to my taste, I loved it. Your mileage may vary.

However, there are some pretty nifty original ideas alongside the standard steampunk ones. The concept of the supernatural vs. the preternatural was very interesting, and I liked a soulless heroine who wasn't dead, for once.

The first three books are the best. I found the fifth and last book somewhat disappointing, but there was some good character development for Alexia and Ivy, and Prudence is adorable.

Likes and Gripes

Professor Lyall is amazing and should have his own series. That is all.

Similarly, Madame Lefoux. It's actually one of my gripes that she doesn't get enough attention. She's a fascinating character and you don't learn enough about her. Still, when she's there she's fabulous.

Ivy started off very silly and I found that a bit annoying. She does become awesome later on, especially in the last book, but it would have been nice to see hints of that earlier.

I never got much of a sense of Conall Maccon, which is odd as he's the love interest. He's not really there half the time. It didn't bother me since I was happy to read about Alexia's adventures without her husband and she and Madame Lefoux really should have gotten together. He just didn't make all that much of an impression.


There's not much more to say, really. It's a fun and very silly series executed with style. If you're after an entertaining, witty light read involving werewolves and dart shooting parasols, this may well be it.

I give the series an A-.

1 comment:

  1. I love 'The Parasol Procterate'! I think that humor is, by and far, the hardest genre to do and I always really enjoy it when I find someone that does it well in medium but especially in books (which, I feel, is generally a little bit harder to do because I think that humor is easier to do in a visible medium).

    I haven't read the last book yet (life's been crazy) but I can't wait until things calm down enough that I can.

    Ditto on Prof. Lyall. (The scene where he's dealing with Conall who has gotten drunk off formaldehyde is, by and far, one of the funniest scenes I've ever read.) I understand why Gail didn't go too much into Madame Lefoux; she was an interesting character but it was Alexia's story and, thus, she was unfortunately only important in that regard. Hopefully we'll see more of her in the sequels dedicated to Prudence.

    I found Ivy a very interesting character; I actually enjoyed the fact that you didn't get any hints that she was more than what she seemed until the later books. (I haven't read the last book, so can't comment on that.) To me, it was nice to be surprised like the character I was reading; so often, the author chooses to do third-person omniscient that you're hardly ever surprised by anything. So, it was nice to feel so in tune to the main character's feelings. I also felt that it helped to cultivate this sense that Ivy really was THAT good at hiding part of personality.

    I also agree with the strangeness of not getting much a sense of Conall, but at the same time it's refreshing. It's nice to a see a story where the romance is the beginning as a catalyst for other things, but isn't anywhere near the main focus of the story. This is so different from the other popular novels ('Twilight') that we see where the romance gets more important even when it's not anywhere near necessary for the plot ('The Hunger Games'). Another fact that may have contributed to this was the fact that Gail was attempting to do parodies of popular types of models. The first was romance, the second gothic horror, the third the travel book and I can't remember what the fourth was...

    Great review! You made me think about some things that I may not have otherwise. (And god knows that I miss talking about novels; I can't believe how much I miss college sometimes.)