fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsGail Carriger The Parasol Protectorate 3. BlamelessBlameless by Gail Carriger

Lord and Lady Maccon have been smitten with each other since they first met, regardless of the fact that he is a werewolf, and she is a preternatural — someone who can remove supernatural powers from anyone she touches. Everyone knows that werewolves and vampires can’t reproduce, so when Lady Maccon becomes pregnant, Lord Maccon does what any right thinking man would do in the situation — he accuses Alexandria of infidelity and kicks her out of his home.

Forced to take refuge with her stepfather, Lady Maccon finds that she has become the scandal of the season. To make matters worse, Lord Akeldama, a vampire and inveterate friend, disappears just when she needs a friend most. So Alexia decides to do what any rational female would do in the situation — she takes her butler and her friend and heads to the Continent to track down any possible explanation of how the “infant inconvenience” came to be, even if that means heading to Italy and facing down the fearsome Templars.

In Blameless, the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series, Gail Carriger finally brings all the different plot threads she has woven in the last two books into full view, creating a tapestry that is simultaneously witty, charming, exhilarating and downright fun. Carriger’s familiar tongue in cheek humor is on full display — Alexia’s stepfather’s response to finding out that he will have to board his errant child as she returns home in disgrace is “I have died and gone to the land of bad novels.” The plot rips along at a quick trot, using almost every kind of transportation available (cable car, anyone?) to keep the action moving.

As much fun as the action is, the witty banter among a group of unique and interesting characters is the true star of this book. While I have described earlier installments in the series as Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse writing Harry Potter, I think this time they wrote a James Bond movie. There is an almost cinematic feel to the action and the dialog that is screaming for this series to be optioned for a TV program. PBS or A&E should start knocking on Gail Carriger’s door, because this is the classy counterpart to the True Blood series that is getting so much publicity.

While book two ended on a cliffhanger that left me breathlessly waiting for Blameless, this book ends with all the plot threads seemingly resolved, but the last page announces that the fourth book, Heartless, will be out in July of 2011. I can hardly wait to see what Alexia and Conall get up to next. While this will never be mistaken for, and has no desire to be, epic fantasy in the tradition of Tolkien, this is a fun read that has earned its way on to my keeper shelf, just for the joy of reading.

The Parasol Protectorate — (2009-2014) Publisher: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? Soulless is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

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  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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