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Waters of Versailles

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson is a charming novella of court intrigue in 1738 Versailles as a clever former soldier makes his fortune by introducing a modern water system (and toilets) to the ladies of the palace. He does this with magical help that he may not be able to control.
ebook, 69 pages
Published June 10th 2015 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  324 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Elena May
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: tor-shorts
“Honesty is not a vice much indulged at Versailles.”

Sweet, imaginative fantasy novella with a unique premise. Sylvain, an ex-soldier, is introducing the ladies of Versailles to the joys and comforts of having toilets and running water, and they love it. He has some supernatural help...

I thought the story suffered a bit from a lack of conflict. Until the very last pages, Sylvain didn't have any problems to overcome or any clear goals he was fighting to achieve (though there were some
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it

last year, amy(other amy) tipped me off to this cool thing she was doing: the short story advent calendar, where you sign up to this thingie here and you get a free story each day.

i dropped the ball and by the time i came to my senses, it had already sold out, so for december project, i'm going rogue and just reading a free online story a day of my choosing. this foolhardy endeavor is going to screw up my already-deep-in-the-weeds review backlog, so i don't think i w
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's really amazing how many chicks you can pick up if you invent a magical toilet system in the 1740's. I mean, they fall ALL OVER YOU if you happen to be smart, Striving, and industrious about manipulating and enslaving poor water creatures. :)

I think this is a perfectly delightful French escapade full of wit, liaisons, and fresh toiletries. (Champagne showers not included.)

Honestly, though, I wanted to be more in the mood for this kind of tale.

I had to want to like highly coiffed and highly
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: r2017, stars-3-5

Entertaining fantasy novella set in the famous chateau de Versailles, jewel of King Louis XV's court.
I was surprised by the humour, which somehow permeates the story, but then again, we are dealing with thrones...
Althea Ann
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
New author Kelly Robson has been getting quite a bit of buzz for this novella, as well as the short stories which she recently had published, and I think it's very well deserved. This is going to be an author to watch - she's got a way with words!

Sylvain is an ingenious man with an eye for the main chance. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead - whether that's a carefully planned seduction or sucking up to a well-placed aristocrat. In this alternate-18th century Versailles, his effor
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A magical toilet system, who would have thought that could be the basis for a light and fun historical? The protagonist Sylvain, who's enslaved a water-based nixie, has developed a plumbing system that everyone in the palace loves. The being isn't particularly happy, but she's keeping the water moving, for the time being, while Sylvain is struggling to keep way too many balls up in the air, while affecting the typical attitude of a courtier.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson is a charming novella of court intrigue in 1738 Versailles as a clever former soldier makes his fortune by introducing a modern water system (and toilets) to the ladies of the palace. He does this with magical help that he may not be able to control.

Starts off as a fairly raunchy, historical novelette, then morphs into something more mystical and supernatural. Well, as mystical as a story about toilets can get...

Sylvain's behavioural changes towards his 'm
Maggie Gordon
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
OMG A FANTASY STORY ABOUT TOILETS. Really, this story gets a high rating for addressing something that drives me batty in a lot of pre-industrial fantasy. If you have fancy magic, why wouldn't you have some sort of indoor plumbing? Society, other than the military, needs to be affected by the presence of magic. So... MAGICAL TOILETS. YES.

Robson weaves a clever historical tale about a man desperate to make a name for himself at court, but who slowly realises that perhaps there are better things
Fantasy Literature
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Featured in our Short Fiction column: ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
A former soldier introduces toilets to Versailles through a magical creature/child, but this power might not be completely in his control, and will the court ever truly accept him anyway?

I liked the premise and it was a very easy read, but I found this story mostly forgettable and I've nothing to say about it. I read it five days ago and I've already forgotten most of it - it's the kind of story that is entertaining even if nothing about it stands out but the premise, the kind of story that is e
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I cannot believe I am giving 4 stars to a story about toilets!
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson is a great novella of court intrigue in 1738 Versailles. It is the story of a clever former soldier that makes his fortune by introducing a modern water system (and toilets) to the ladies of the palace. He does this with magical help that he may not be able to control.
Whats sets the story apart (well, beside toilets), is the main character, that left his home in the Alps behind to move up in the so
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, short_fiction
3.5 stars rounded up. This was a fun little story.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historic, novella
Delightful and very inventive. The hero is an ex soldier who has an entrepreneurial spirit and tries to carry favor with the court of Versailles buy installing plumbing. Only things don't go so smoothly and we soon realize why.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Kind of odd. This was the best of the three of her stories I've read for the Campbell nominees.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, owned, can-lit
I thought the novella was imaginative, well-written and cute. A comparison could be made with Vonda McIntyre's The Moon and the Sun, likewise a story about a water-based creature in Versailles, but at about 50 pages of length, WoV has less complexity, obviously.

The poignancy and the worldbuilding were very convincing. The humour not so much--I was under the impression that I was supposed to find the water dripping at the beginning of the story funny, and it just wasn't, not much. That said, the
Sami Sundell
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a historical novella, a soldier plunges into court politics and tries to gain acceptance by bringing water into Versailles.

The main character, Sylvain, builds running water and indoor toilets into Louis XV era Versailles. He does this with help from a captive water spirit. Even though most of the story happens in palace halls, the real essence of it is the interplay between Sylvain and the spirit, the way their relationship develops.

The story is well written and captivating. The palace politi
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, own
"Waters of Versailles" is about eighteenth-century French plumbing! Well, magical plumbing. Sylvain becomes very popular for his toilets, and this...this is actually far more charming than it sounds. Because toilets!! And magic! And romantic dalliances! While I didn't find a strong narrative to hold on to, I was carried by the historical fantasy setting and Sylvain's magical doings. I found the climax/resolution a bit odd, but the final image is lovely.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novella
A soldier-turned-courtier brings indoor plumbing to Versailles. With a little supernatural help.

I would have liked the main character more if he was nicer to his nixie helper. Or prisoner, rather. It would have been a sweeter story. Still, on the whole, quite mesmerizing.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor-com
Everybody in Versailles wants a throne... only not the kind you are thinking! A very original story, part historical fiction, part fairytale about the introduction of plumbing in Versailles, court gossip and a magical water creature. This is more a 3.5, but it gets an extra .5 star for originality.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Short, sweet story about a man who plumbs King Louis' Versailles with water pipes, fountains and toilets, with the help of a nixie- a "fish" who controls water. He tries hard to fit into the royal palace, but seems to be forever juggling outrageous demands from the courtiers, which winds up putting more demands on his little "fish". Eventually he has to find a way to deal with his frustration and discontent.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it

Sex, Magic, and Plumbing Can you resist such a combo? I don't think so.

Plus, it's free on website. And it's just 70 pages long. You'll be done in an hour.

Read it, have fun, appreciate the fact you can use a toilet that doesn't require magic to flush things away.
Maya Gu
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED it! So creative and original and hilarious - one of the best novellas I've read recently. Another knockout from The art is stunning as well.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, mythology
Slight read but I love the idea of getting ahead in a palace via indoor plumbing...
Tsana Dolichva
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson is a novella about an ex-soldier (well, officer, I think) currently residing in Versailles and fitting the palace with plumbing. As in new-fangled toilets, and also fountains. He has some supernatural help.

I was kind of expecting this novella to be funnier than it was. The concept struck me as lending itself to a comedic tale, but this wasn't one. That's not to say it wasn't lighthearted and, at times, amusing, but going in, I had been hoping to laugh more.

Morgan Dhu
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it

In Kelly Robson's novella The Waters of Versailles, former soldier Sylvain de Guilherand has found a place for himself at the court of the Sun King through his skill in plumbing - providing fresh water and toilets to the court. But his expertise depends on an unequal - and possibly coerced - partnership that is fraying at the seams, as are the pipes that supply water to the toilets of the court.

At the outset of the story, Sylvain has everything he ever thought he wanted - the favour of kings and
Yonnette Jo
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I can't say that I really loved this novella. I think, out of the original fiction that I've read thus far from, that this is the one I enjoyed the least.

That being said, I absolutely adored the nixie and all interactions that Sylvain had with her. I loved how he called her "the little fish," I loved how I could almost see her playing in the water, making ice, splashing Sylvain...

...And above all else, I loved the ending.

The main thing I wasn't a fan of was how Robson approached the hist
Jamie Collins
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
1.5 stars. I rather like historical fantasy stories, and magic + plumbing at 18th-century Versailles sounded like a really fun idea, but this novella didn’t work well for me. There’s something that doesn’t quite click about the writing style. The opening scene should have been good - Sylvain in the throes of passion with a powdered courtier when he notices water dripping ominously from the overhead pipes - but I was distracted by phrase choices.

I didn’t believe in the main character at all, I fo
Mark Tapper
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The writing is lyrical, the story whimsical, and you know from the first sentence you are in highly-skilled hands. I am a new author--or rather a returning one after a long hiatus--and most of the work I have been reading by new writers has been, well, disappointing. I have rarely found one with a real command of the language, and most of the stories seem reductive and tired. Then along comes Ms. Robson. This novella is elegant and witty. The originality of setting speculative fiction in the Cou ...more
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Opening lines:
Sylvain had just pulled up Annette’s skirts when the drips started. The first one landed on her wig, displacing a puff of rose-pink powder. Sylvain ignored it and leaned Annette back on the sofa. Her breath sharpened to gasps that blew more powder from her wig. Her thighs were cool and slightly damp—perhaps her arousal wasn’t feigned after all, Sylvain thought, and reapplied himself to nuzzling her throat
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: "Waters of Versailles" by Kelly Robson 4 15 Apr 18, 2016 02:10PM  

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Like you, I'm a passionate reader. I spent most of my teenage years either hanging out at the drugstore waiting for new issues of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, or when I was in the city, lurking in the SF and Fantasy section of the bookstore. This was pre-Internet and since there were no bookstores in my town and the library was pretty bare, good books -- the kind that made my heart sing -- w ...more

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“« “You’re fancy,” the little fish said, her voice sleepy.

Sylvain looked down. He was in full court garb, a manikin in satin, wrapped in polished leather and studded with silver buttons.

He pulled off his wig and settled himself on a boulder. “Do I look like a man of worth to you, little one?”

“Worth what, Papa?”

He grimaced. “My dear, that is exactly the question.” »”
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