Gail Carriger
Timeless Cover



I always seem to manage to read Gail Carriger's books in one or two big chunks of time, even though I otherwise never seem to have the time to read for eight hours straight anymore. Timeless, the fifth and final Parasol Protectorate book, was no exception, coming in from the library just days before I took a nine hour flight to France. Excitement over my impending week in Paris was certainly a bit distracting from reading, but overall, Timeless was still charming and engaging enough to keep my attention so I didn't shake myself to pieces with anticipation-jitters.

Timeless skips ahead about three years from the end of Heartless, giving us some lovely updates regarding all the social reorganization that Alexia did at the end of that installment, including how the former Woolsey Pack is getting on being the London Pack, how the former Westminster Hive is coping with now being the Woolsey Hive, how her "skin-stealer" daughter Prudence is doing what with being adopted by Lord Akeldama and having grown into the inevitable ferocious contrary toddler stage, how totally awkward things still are with Genevieve, and, in an episode so entertaining that when it was previewed at the end of the last book I mentally assimilated it into the last book's text as a major highlight (whoops), how Ivy and Tunstell's ridiculous drama troupe is doing.

The plot really kicks off when Alexia receives an order from the queen of the Alexandria Hive in Egypt, commanding her to bring Prudence to Egypt to meet the queen. Alexia is suspicious, because quite a large number of European vampires spent most of Prudence's fetus stage attempting to kill the both of them, but apparently one does not ignore a summons from the queen of the Alexandria hive. As cover for this trip, they pretend that the queen has actually heard fabulous things about Ivy and Tunstell's new play, and so Alexia, Conall, and Prudence set off for Egypt with Ivy, Tunstell, half a dozen actors, a few stage hands, and Genevieve Lefoux, their inevitable escort from the Woolsey Hive. As is to be expected, the trip to Egypt involves many wacky and madcap hijinks, many involving Prudence.

I have always been fascinated with ancient Egypt and I really loved the Parasol-Protectorate-ified version of Victorian Egypt, which ties in the supernatural lore of the universe with Egypt's ridiculously long and death-obsessed and gloriously occulty history in what I found to be intriguing and fangirly-squee-inducing ways (some of them involve KING HATSHEPSUT). Many of the main characters have a predictably ethnocentric "This place is so Not British fetch me my smelling salts" sort of reaction to Egypt (or in Alexia's case, "This place has coffee, fetch me some tea"), but I think most of the fun being poked here is towards their Britishy snobbery, which has been a pretty frequent target of mocking throughout the series.

Many former plot threads get brought to a head and largely resolved in this book: the God-Breaker Plague is back, and we learn more about Alessandro Tarabotti and his relationship with Professor Lyall, and the circumstances under which the old Woolsey Pack alpha had gone off and that had led Lyall to draw Conall to London. Biffy finally gets over Lord Akeldama and comes to terms with being a werewolf and having a specific place in the pack, and begins a relationship with Lyall, which made me super happy both because it is adorable and because I have been shipping them since the third book. Some really crazy shit happens with vampire reproduction. I cannot even remember all the plot seeds that were sown earlier in the series that pop up right at the end here, but it's a surprisingly high number for a series that is so unapologetically fluffy.

As disappointed as I am to see this series end, I did think this installment was one of the stronger ones, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire series. The over-the-top steampunkitude, farcical dialogue, and Dickensianly silly names give a light and fun exterior to a series that also has a lot on the Serious Literary Issues Of Our Time (mainly, representation) to recommend it, from its multiple kinds of badass ladies, its very large proportion of queer characters, and its continual messages about the danger of underestimating people just because they seem silly or frivolous.

By the end of this volume, everything is wrapped up neatly in an exquisitely tied sparkly bow, as befits a series populated with such a large proportion of gay dandy vampires and gay dandy vampire drones. Supposedly, there is a series about a more grown-up Prudence due out later this year, and I am terribly excited for it. But first, Finishing School!

Originally posted at http://bloodygranuaile.livejournal.com/44853.html.