Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 2)

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 2)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2010

A steampunk historical romance review

GermanChangeless

Changeless sees the intrepid Alexia Tarabotti settled into a position of power, both as muhjah to the queen and Alpha of the Woolsey pack. So when immortals of all kinds suddenly begin to lose their powers on a wide scale, Conall Maccon runs off to tend to his old Scottish pack, and suspicious activity begins to follow Alexia around, she is naturally up to the task.

This sequel considerably broadens Carriger’s world in several directions, by introducing the rest of Conall’s werewolf pack, delving into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the Alpha’s move to London, taking readers to Scotland, and uncovering more details about this world’s intriguing rules and wherefores. The new characters are introduced and expanded without taking away from the original characters’ growth, the numerous mysteries facing Alexia keep the plot steaming along full-speed ahead, and this heroine performs her antics with such aplomb that I didn’t mind that some questions don’t get wrapped up until later books. Amazingly, the clothing details of bizarre hats and edgy attire attain even greater heights of distinction in this work.

In short, this is the vindicated and indomitable Alexia Maccon as everyone loves to see her, and the plot has enough going on to keep her busy and readers highly entertained. However, unlike Soulless, this book ends on an abrupt note that requires swift continuation into Blameless, so have it at the ready.

“Soulless” (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2009

Alexia Tarabotti wields two great weapons: a custom parasol and the fact that she’s soulless. Up against mysterious incidents that frighten vampire queens and get under werewolves’ skin, will Alexia’s ability to cancel out any supernatural powers be enough? More importantly, will her spinster reputation survive her investigatory antics? And just how provoking can Queen Victoria’s werewolf agent, the Earl of Woolsey, become for this stubborn, intelligent lady when they must work together?

Gail Carriger’s novel works like an English scone smothered, or jammed, with humor. The light overall feel and humorous quirks tie the whole thing together and make Soulless good, quick travel reading. However, beneath all that fun lies a very solid and interesting world. The thoroughly thought-out details seem a bit dense at first, but the precocious characters and Carriger’s humorous jam balance it out well. The romance works well within the plot. The characters are engaging, and left with plenty of room to grow in the sequels. While not taking the most unpredictable route, the mystery unfolds with aplomb and drives a good pace. An excellent book to read over tea or when in need of a fun, supernatural escape, Soulless holds a world I would like to visit again.

Vlad the Impaler’s Just Desserts

Lately, in honor of a birthday wish, my friends and I decided to celebrate Vlad the Impaler: inspiration for Dracula, terrible warlord, motto: “To the PAIN!AND DEATH!”  

Vladportrait

Now, most people take these images and honor him by creating things along the lines of:

Vladart

My friends and I chose a different direction:

Vladcake

Note the peaked red cap!  The bloodied face!  The bodies on spikes!  The battlefield dirt and decomposing flesh!

This is our design.

…And it was delicious.

Sleeping Beauty as Stalker

Breezes from Wonderland » Blog Archive » Sleeping Beauty as Stalker.

 

“With Disney in production on a Sleeping Beauty film with  Angelina Jolie starring Maleficent, producer Neal Moritz is moving forward with a comedy take of  the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that turns the slumbering sweetie into a pesky stalker.

The 21 Jump Street producer is developing a modern-day retelling that finds the male protagonist accidentally awakening Sleeping Beauty and finding that he can’t get rid of the lovestruck heroine.”

 

Here’s the thing about this: doesn’t it sound just like the beginning of Twilight?  There’s a ‘special’ guy (prince/vampire/just rich guy(?), what’s the difference in this vampire fetish age?) who attracts the attention of a young girl.  The young girl feels this man is the source of her ‘awakened’ self, her interest in this new world she finds herself in, and refuses to let him shake her off.  If this Sleeping Beauty starts stalking the guy without knowing what makes him ‘special’ then the similarities get even scarier.  At least a prince’s sparkles, no matter what time period he’s in, are likely to be confined to his clothes.

Familiars, Ferrets and Fairy Tales

Today marks the anniversary of the trial, in 1549, of Joan Prentice.  She was accused of sending an imp, in the form of a ferret, to bite children.

 

“She confessed that the Devil appeared to her as a dunnish colored ferret with fiery eyes and asked for her soul. She couldn’t give her soul because it belonged to Jesus, but gave the ferret blood from her finger and cheek. His name was “Bidd”, and when she wanted him to do anything for her, she said:

      “Bidd, Bidd, Bidd,
      come Bidd, come Bidd, come Bidd,
      come suck, come suck, come suck”.

Bidd was a “familiar,” or animal kept by English witches that performed evil deeds for them and was rewarded with sucking their blood from witch teats.)

Joan Prentice’s trial was on 5 July 1589,and she was hanged within two hours after sentencing. “(Source: Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Bonanza Books, 1959)

Other reports say Joan had two imps, or familiars, named Jack and Jill.

 

Now, here’s the thing: why aren’t witches’ familiars allowed to be so active anymore?  Now they get to be cats that are black or dark birds with knowing looks-sometimes they get to deliver messages.  Always, they are underused.  Think of all the things they could do!  All the things they could explain!

1. Why did Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall?  An imp ferret pushed him off!

2. Why did Snow White actually let the old woman into the cottage after being warned by the dwarves and knowing full well she was in danger?  The imp ferret pushed the door in and the woman was just chasing after her poor, lost pet!

3. Why was Sleeping Beauty clumsy enough to prick her finger on the spinning wheel?  Maleficent’s ferret imp was lying in wait on top of it and Sleeping Beauty was reaching out to pet it, when the imp moved so she pricked her finger instead!

4. How did the witch visit Rapunzel before she was old enough for her hair to grow long?  She’d send up a rope with her ferret imp, he’d tie it securely and she could climb up.  When she left, the ferret would fetch it back down so the girl couldn’t escape.

5. Why does Cruella DeVille want all animals made into coats? As a child a witch sent her imp familiars in their animal forms to bite her!  She particularly likes dalmatians because she finds the spots comforting-the witches’ animals were always all one color!  Hence, her reaction on seeing the spot-less puppies: “What a horrid little white rat-eech!”

Also, I feel this is an entire form of vampirism that has somehow been passed over.  Say!  Perhaps Draco is really an imp!  When turned into an animal his form was a ferret, he’s mighty pale, and he does have an obsession with blood.  This is fun-I am thankful to Joan Prentice and her ferrets for all these scrumptious thoughts.  Anyone else have some theories or uses for a ferret imp?

“The Wolf and the Lion” 1×5

I really enjoyed the middle of this episode.  The times when Robert was on screen were really my favorite, as I recall.

 

Spoilers ahoy:

1. I wish my lessons were more like Bran’s.  Also, I wish there had been some kind of lesson like this for viewers somewhere on here-perhaps as an intro before each episode or something, like BBC did with Downton Abbey.

2. I still want to say that Bran remembers what happened and is annoyed by his mother’s absence because he doesn’t trust telling anyone else, and he really wants to tell someone.

3. Still don’t care about Theon Greyjoy.

4. I love the Knight of the Flowers!  His armor is INTRICATE.  SHINY.  I will take that action!

5. Also, I totally called Renly/Flower boy the minute there was eye contact!  Offering to make this dude a king might be interesting.  I think I could get behind a kingship where this pretty knight calls the shots.  He knows what’s up and knows how to do things in style, plus he already has the love of the people.  It could work.

6. Sansa’s innocence and girlishness in loving the knight and defending his honor at the drop of a hat makes me like her better.

7. Whose bed do we think the horsehead winds up in?  I’m voting for the Hound getting it to the Mountain’s bed himself.  Brotherly rivalry!  Excellent!  Knight of the Flowers sharing the win with the common Hound!  THIS is more what this show should be about.  Love that part.

8. On Catelyn: When you’ve got a hot royal fugitive on your hands, running to Crazy McBreastymom is the last thing you want to do.  Particularly if she’s got cocky captains, which it seems she does.  On the bright side, there’s now interesting bonds between Tyrion and Catelyn that she seems to be aware of by proclaiming that he is not to be harmed.  I am now interested to see how this plays out.

9. Tyrion: Well played, sir!  That shield looked vaguely blunt and cardboardy for me even as a shield, but as a blundeon!-that was some work, man.

10. Okay, Ned-let’s get this straight.  Robert is a Warrior King and finally, there is some news that calls for a king always thinking about war.  Robert made the right. call.  This is what he knows how to do.  And this is where you completely stand up to him?  Not, you know, something understandable like your family, or anything?  Bah humbug.  If I were going along knowing I’m a fat fool and just wishing I didn’t have so many worries on the side, and then finally a situation arose where I knew the answer and could enforce it, and THAT’s what my friend opposes…I’d be riled and calling for their head, too.  Talk about frustrating!  In any case, who’s this innocent child you speak of?  Daenerys?  Cause the whole point of this lord system is that everyone is born with a purpose and her purpose right now is to be a threat to your people.  Therefore she is not innocent.  So, stop it.  Either point out the difficulties inherent in assassinating her (which would be legion), or man up and orchestrate an attempt.  In my opinion Robert showed great restraint at this fucking soldier refusing to follow orders about SOLDIERLY DUTIES when he swallowed them about politics right enough, by first allowing his other counselors to offer their arguments to him.  Foolish Stark.  On the other hand, if it’s Daenerys’ child, what the hell?  That kid is the single most dangerous threat to the kingdom.  Again-not innocent.  The end.  As I recall, I actually said, “This part is fun!” during the beginning of that scene, when Robert was front and center.  As soon as Ned and his agonized don’t-wanna face took over it was no longer fun.

11.  Also, the BEST argument for the Dothraki not being an immediate threat is that-“Winter is coming”.  Ned of all people should’ve thought to say that!  The horsemen with their lack of clothing, their need for horses, etc.-they’d be DOOMED trying to attack in winter.  And Ned didn’t even have the sense to bring that up.  (The answer is, of course, that then the next summer they’d be fully ready to attack wiht a prince who actually has the army and a claim on the throne, so it’s only an argument against immediate action and in that sense flaws for this argument, but still-if that’s what Ned’s goin’ for he should’ve busted this out.)

12. Robert continued to be my favorite character this time with his scene with Cersei-my favorite scene as of now.  It fully explained how Robert is forward thinking, it explains the dark-haired child, it fully fleshes out the dynamic between these two.  These are the interesting characters.  Robert’s made a rotten run of it, but at least he knows how to keep the machine moving.  Cersei may have massive personality flaws, but she has a good comprehension and the willingness to discuss matters when she needs to.

13. I’ve seen some people wonder that Cersei seemed to support Ned Stark-I am not surprised.  Ned Stark is a simple man, a follower, not someone who’d ever be able to out-scheme anyone or do something underhanded to get rid of their enemies.  Whoever the Hand of the king is, it will be Cersei’s enemy since Jaime won’t take the job.  Therefore she wants the best enemy-the one she knows, the one she can count on not to undermine her, or to do anything she can’t predict.  This sensible move endears the Queen of Pigs to me.

14. Arya out-facing the guards is a thing of beauty!  I really wish I could see the dragon skull better, though.  I couldn’t tell what it was til my friend informed me.

15. See?  Jaime totally improves when he has something to do!  The fact that what he had to do at the end of this episode was out of concern for his brother also helped his cause, to my mind.  I look on him much more favorably now.  (Also, man does the guy need a way to vent.  He lives between those who despise him for betraying his king, those who loathe him for following the orders of that king, those who hate him for both reasons, and the king who likes to make him hear whore-fucking and otherwise being unworthy of his sister.  I feel for him.)  The fact that this attack is against Ned in no way lessons the touching quality of going out hell-for-leather in reaction to his brother’s wrong.  He didn’t even take Ned captive or take advantage of a wounded man!  He does have a sense of honor.  I like him better!

16. Varys and Baelish clearly know too much to be such minor characters thus far.  I expect more action on this front!  Especially from Baelish.  So far he’s given Ned “help” in breadcrumbs and pebbles.  It’s time to get to the candy house or the wicked witch already!  Or both!  Both is traditional.

17. Was that Illyrio Arya overheard?  I liked Illyrio!  If he’s up to something I want in!

18. In short, there seem to be a lot of people whose sides I am currently willing to consider, but if I’m going to actually join sides and get a real interest in this “game of thrones” then someone is going to have to step it up and do more!  (But Ned is right out!)

19. Also, I love the vines on those columns in the throne room!

20. Why is it always so dark?  Are there vampires showing up?  (Were these mysterious dragons…VAMPIRE DRAGONS?)