Andi Marquette's Reviews > Timeless

Timeless by Gail Carriger
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Nov 24, 2012

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bookshelves: paranormal-ish, steampunkish-things

In this, the 5th volume of the Parasol Protectorate, many subplots appear to have been wrapped up and clarified. I'm uncertain whether Carriger intends to continue on (I have a few ideas that might be interesting, but of course, I'm sure she's got plenty of her own!), but if she doesn't, this could serve as a wrap-up of sorts of the series thus far.

Here, our intrepid heroine Alexia Tarabotti must journey to Egypt at the request of a seriously ancient vampire queen, the mother of all vampires. But it's not really Alexia the queen wishes to see. No, she has heard of Alexia and Conall Maccon's toddler daughter Prudence, who is a "metanatural." That is, she is able to acquire the powers of any supernatural upon physical contact with said supernatural, leaving the latter mortal while she changes into either a vampire or a werewolf. You can see the difficulties this creates when Connall would like to hold his daughter. Fear not. Prudence's abilities can be halted if Alexia keeps physical contact with her, and if there is distance between Prudence and the supernatural after Prudence has touched the supernatural.

So what would a vampire queen want with a toddler with such abilities? Alexia doesn't know. All she knows is that it's not a good idea to blow off an invitation from the mother-of-us-all vampire queen. So off to Egypt she goes, with Conall and Prudence in tow, along with the Tunstalls and their theater troupe, which Alexia hopes can be used as a means to cover the actual reasons for the journey.

But someone or something appears to have it in for Alexia and/or her daughter. And why is one of Lady Tunstall's children kidnapped while in Alexandria? And my heavens, what secrets does Lord Maccon's beta, Professor Lyall, hide? And how can Biffy (he who resents being a werewolf) rise to the occasion to help Lady Maccon and perhaps even Lyall? A reading of this book will ensure these questions and several others are answered.

In this installment of the Protectorate, Carriger's wit remains intact. The character of Prudence and Alexia's interactions with her were completely delightful and sly and, I think, really made this plot, which in places felt a bit rushed to this reader, as if the author were trying to just get it on paper and get as quickly as possible to the ending, where she could demonstrate that she's managed to tie up a lot of subplots, though some remain a bit unresolved. I was disappointed that Lord Akeldama, Alexia's longtime vampire friend, didn't have much of a role in this narrative, and that the strained relationship between Alexia and Madame Lefoux remains unresolved to a great extent, as does the background of Alexia's steadfast butler Floote (though we do get a sense of who he really is here).

There is an intriguing subplot that involves Alexia's dead father -- we learn a bit more about him (but not much), as you'll see, and she ties it nicely into the ancient vampire queen's situation as well as to events in book 2, Changeless. That was nicely done.

Overall, Timeless proved an effective wrap-up thus far in several important respects, delved more into Biffy's character (I really ended up enjoying watching him throughout), and gave us a sense of Prudence, who is by far one of the more memorable toddler characters I've read. Parts of the plot fell flat, and I think Carriger missed an opportunity to delve into this ancient vampire queen and really give us a sense of the kind of power she wielded and her importance to vampire history and social organization. After all, Books 3 and 4 hammered us with vampires and how they operate, and left us with a sense of dread about the leadership. Not so much, here, though there is a truly interesting and delightful twist toward the end with one of the characters that I think you'll enjoy. I won't reveal it here (no spoilers!), but it proved something I totally didn't see coming.

Regardless (hmm...the title of her next book?), Carriger always provides a quick, fun read filled with humor, excellent dialogue, and memorable characters. So though Heartless (book 4) still remains my favorite in the series, I enjoyed the journey in this one.

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