Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review - Gail Carriger's Blameless

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate Book 3) by Gail Carriger
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: August 31st, 2010
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
Challenge: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Alexia Maccon has left her husband due to his stupidity. Sadly this means she has ended up back in the "loving" bosom of her family. She has been fired from the Shadow Council and has a very problematic infant inconvenience, but at least her family throws her out, so things are looking a bit brighter. If only she had someplace to go and didn't have mechanical ladybugs attacking her. There are so many unanswered questions, the most obvious being, how could this happen, followed by, who can give me answers. The Vampires seem the logical ones for knowing the secrets of the Soulless, but seeing as it's probably them trying to kill her, best not to ask. Her one counselor to turn to in regard to all things, cravats to conspiracies, Lord Akeldama, is MIA. Alexia calls on those still close to her who trust she is not an unfaithful wife, but one wronged by lack of knowledge. Madame Lefoux, a milliner to be reckoned with, Tunstall, an ex-werewolf groupy, aka Claviger, and now famous actor, Floote, a butler through thick and thin, and her husband's Beta, Professor Lyall. Leave it to the logical werewolf to believe her and not drown his spirits in formaldehyde...

A plan is formed. To Italy and the Templars they will go. Of course they are pursued by night by Vampires and by day by drones. They seek refuge with Madam LeFoux's inventor friends, one is quite helpful, the other, Mr. Lange-Wilsdorf, a scientist with a murky past, is a bit over excited to study "the female specimen." He soon throws them out onto the mercy of the world once learning of Alexia's condition. The barely make it to the "safety" of Italy. The Templars are a strange bunch, viewing Alexia as a taint on the world, a necessary evil. She is the perfect weapon in their fight against the supernatural, yet she is all that they abhor. If she could just find some answers it will all be worth it so that she can crow her innocence at her husband, Conall. She just hopes that the Templars don't figure out her real reason for visiting, who knows what their reaction would be to a pregnant Soulless. But if worse comes to worst, at least coming to Italy made her discover the most wonderful thing she has ever encountered, pesto!

Let me preface this with, I love the Parasol Protectorate and all things Alexia, but this was not my favorite book in the series so far. It seemed to lack a certain spark that the other two contained. Perhaps it's that Alexia was more contemplative and lacked a pragmatism that she previously possessed. Better a doer than a dweller anyday. The pregnancy has changed her. She's so focused on proving herself right that in order to come to an explanation as to how that happened things get a little too into the technical mumbo jumbo that bog down most Steampunk books and have until now been gratefully minimal. The thing that was a barrier to overcome in reading the first book was the steampunky technology of the day, which you were used to by book two, but now there's all this new stuff being thrown at you and it gets confusing.

 It felt like the technology was a crutch to the wonderful back story and mythology of the Soulless. Aether this and that, when I feel it could have been simpler. Plus the lack of Akeldama, while key to the denouement, made this book lack his sheer wonderful presence. Also the separation of Conall and Alexia made their verbal sparring rather hard. Plus, in the end, we didn't really learn that much. We know what might be, but not what is. So more than anything, this felt like a bridge book and now I need the next book desperately. That could be, in the end, why I feel dissatisfied. There's so much I want to know NOW, that having to wait, having to have patience to learn the back story of Floote, more on the Soulless breeding program, more on what their child could be, is excruciating. Maybe I'm greedy, but I want more answers, less techno fluff.

Moste Importante Steampunkery:
A tie between the awesome mechanical ladybugs and the ornithopter. Seeing as ornithopter's technically exist, even as far back as drawings by Da Vinci, and seem to be a fun side project for inventors, I think the ladybugs will win. Also, I do see my contrary nature in choosing dirigibles in Gail's earlier book Soulless, because dirigibles exist as well... but there's a romanticism to dirigibles that ornithopters just don't have. So back to the lady bugs. They are homicidal whereas the ornithopter is just a means of transport... yet the ladybugs will appear before series end in a more begnin incarnation. "They where clockwork, or some variety of windup mechanical. And they were beetles - larger, shiny red beetles with black spots and multifaceted crystal eyes, boasting nasty-looking syringes that poked upward in place of antennae." See, that easily beats ornithopter. Beetles it is.


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