Literature: The Parasol Protectorate
The Parasol Protectorate is a series of books by author Gail Carriger
. It is primarily a Supernatural Adventure Romance, set in an alternate Victorian London with heavy steampunk elements. In the world of the Parasol Protectorate, not only are vampires, werewolves and ghosts real, but they are instrumental in British politics, fashion and scientific advancement.
The books concentrate on the adventures of Alexia Tarrabotti, a 'plain', sometimes scandalous, half-Italian 'Preternatural' who has the ability to negate supernatural abilities by touch; Lord Conall Maccon, Scottish werewolf and pack Alpha and their friends and colleagues. These adventures include custom-made weaponised parasols, rogue scientists, dirigibles and 'glassicles'.
The series is being given a manga
adaptation by Yen Press
Gail Carringer is currently writing The Finishing School Series
, aimed at Young Adult
readers, set in the same universe 25 years earlier and featuring a few characters from The Parasol Protectorate. A sequel series focussing on Alexia and Lord Maccon's daughter Prudence
is also in the works.
The books show examples of:
- A Friend in Need: Played with and averted.
- Action Fashionista: Lord Akeldama's band of dandies are quite handy during the Hipocras club debacle. Alexia notes that their fine clothing is cut to hide their musculature. Lord Akeldama is also shown to be a skilled fighter since he a lone vampire and one of the oldest vampires in the series.
- Action Girl: Neither Alexia nor Madame Lefoux shy away from kicking ass.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: A mild example. Lord Akeldama overcame the vampire aversion to citrus so that he could use lemon juice on his hair.
- Adaptation Distillation: The manga volumes stay faithful to the novels, but nonetheless manage to distill the best elements of them into a visual medium.
- Alternate History: Pretty obviously, really.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Alexia's mother and stepfather. But mostly her mother. Even Felicity and Evelyn think so.
- Arc Symbol: The brass octopus, and cephalopods in general. Also the broken ankh. The former definitely crosses over into Sigil Spam territory, and the two collide rather spectacularly in Timeless, with the giant octopus in the sands of Egypt, formed out of preternatural mummies.
- Badass Bookworm: Professor Lyall. He's small for a werewolf, and a complete nerd (his professorship is in reference to his expertise on the breeding habits of sheep), but he's the most graceful transformer anyone's ever seen and he's the Beta of Woolsey pack, which means very few other werewolves in England can outfight him. He's also one of the oldest werewolves in England, older than both the dewan and Lord Maccon. that's gotta count for something.
- Battle Butler: Floote, in the third book, turns out to be quite a handy shot. Later, in book four, we find out that most of the the clavigers are trained how to subdue and capture their werewolf masters.
- Battle Couple: Alexia and Conall are formidable the few times they fight together. Lyall and Biffy make a good team as well, though the 'couple' part comes later.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster to Queen Elizabeth I was a vampire, and acted as potentate to Queen Victoria before Lord Akeldama.
- The Queen of the Alexandria Hive (and one of the oldest vampires in the world) is none other than Queen Hatshepsut, a pharaoh who ruled Egypt in the 15th century BCE.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Alexia Tarrabotti and Lord Conall Maccon. During their first meeting, Miss Tarabotti "prodded him in the nether regions with a hedgehog" (he sat on it) and it only went downhill from there.
- Beta Couple: Ivy and Tunstell
- Also Biffy and Professor Lyall, in Timeless. Pun intended.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Despite his many quirks, Lord Akeldama is an exceptionally old vampire who is more than capable in a fight, and his drones (see Action Fashionista above) form a gossip network so effective that he's often better informed than the British government.
- Bi the Way: Channing confirmed Lyall has had mostly female lovers in the past despite only having male lovers in the series. Other characters of mention would be Boots (Mentioned by Akeldama while implying the above), Angelique ( For being Quesnel's biological mother), and Alessandro.
- Bifauxnen: Madame Lefoux always wears masculine clothes anyway, but spends some time in the third book pretending to be a man with the help of a fake mustache. Is not the first time she has used this trick. In her younger days she disguised herself as a boy to attend an all male institute.
- Big Damn Heroes: In book three, a masked figure (really Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings) saves Alexia from certain death by vampire on numerous occasions.
- Lord Maccon and Floote in the final battle in Timeless.
- Boobs of Steel: Alexia's described as being well-endowed.
- Big Eater: Both the Lord and Lady Maccon, especially when the latter is pregnant.
- Blessed with Suck: Pretty much sums up Biffy's reaction to becoming a werewolf. And then, in Timeless, he spontaneously develops Anubis Form, a power only held by Alpha werewolves ... after learning that Alphas have this bad habit of going bugnuts insane as they age.
- Brave Scot: Lord Maccon, who's a Scottish werewolf.
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Alexia, since her husband is supposed to be infertile. Leads to Mistaken for Cheating because of it.
- But Not Too Foreign: Alexia is part-Italian.
- The Butler Did It: In Timeless in particular.
- Camp Gay: Lord Akeldama with his dandy fashions and effeminate manner of addressing people. He has a harem of male drones (most being Camp Gay themselves) although he's in love with Biffy.
- Christmas Cake/Old Maid: Alexia's been described as a young spinster. At first.
- Cinderella Circumstances: Alexia's family life is similar to this, even if she has a stepdad rather than a stepmom. Nobody in the family likes her much, and she has two pampered half-sisters that everyone likes better, and she's The Un Favourite.
- Compressed Adaptation: So far each volume of the "Soulless" OEL manga is a complete adaption of it's respective book in the series (Volume 1 is Soulless, volume 2 is Changeless, volume 3 is Blameless), despite being primarily image based and each volume is shorter than the book it's adapting since each one is still about the length of an average manga book.
- Deadpan Snarker: Several, but Professor Lyall is the most obvious.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: While this version of the Victorian era is markedly more progressive (at least in Britain), there are still a number of deliberately invoked norms that would look off to a modern audience, such as Alexia's initial "spinster" status. America meanwhile calls to mind the mentality behind the Salem Witch Trials...only with actual supernatural beings being hunted down.
- Disappeared Dad, Mysterious Parent, and Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Alexia's dad. He wasn't the type to stick around for a child anyway, but even if he'd wanted to, he couldn't have. He's got to have some kind of amazing backstory, but so far we haven't heard most of it.
- Alessandro Tarabotti was the product of a Templar breeding program, the goal of which was to create hunters who could track and kill the supernatural. After leaving Alexia's mother, he was killed by a werewolf Alpha who he took on to protect the love of his life.
- We also know that two preternaturals almost physically repel each other due to the nature of their abilities.
- Driven by Envy: FELICITY, she even admits such.
- Eagle Land: The second variety. America is an ignorant hellhole for supernatural creatures; vampires and werewolves alike are shunned, scorned, hunted and killed.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Ivy is very fond of looking at Tunstall.
- Emergency Transformation: Biffy in book 3 and Ivy in book 5.
- The Fashionista: A male example in Lord Akeldama.
- Everyone Can See It: The attraction between Alexia and Maccon. At the end of book 1, we find that the people shipping include Queen Victoria, who says she considered interfering personally.
- First Episode Spoiler: Alexia Tarabotti gets married at the end of book 1, and learns she is pregnant at the end of book 2. Given that the main plot of book 3 involves her trying to prove she could be pregnant by her allegedly sterile husband, it's nearly impossible to describe without giving away the plot twists of book 1 and 2.
- Fur Against Fang: Downplayed thanks to the Broken Masquerade. They still compete for drones and clavigers, and Vampires do have have a bit of fun promoting fashion trends that Werewolves find annoying, but direct confrontations tend to favor Passive-Aggressive Kombat.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Madame Lefoux, notable for creating Alexia's Parasol of Pain and the Octomaton.
- Gaslamp Fantasy
- Gorn: The manga adaptation doesn't shy away from the more graphic descriptions of the novels.
- Great Offscreen War: There are mentions of military activity in India, with a number of regiments arriving back in London.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Felicity seems quite jealous of Alexia's socially excellent marriage. She also gets jealous when her younger sister Evelyn gets engaged before her.
- The Grovel, twice.
- In Soulless, Lord Maccon treats Miss Tarabotti in a way that is considered a sign of high respect and romantic interest in his native culture, but in the culture they're both currently living in it's the height of rudeness.
Professor Lyall: You have behaved, I would go so far as to say, badly. I suggest a well-crafted apology and an extended session of abject groveling.
Lord Maccon: I am not a groveler!
Lyall: It is possible to learn many new and interesting skills in one lifetime.
Maccon: *after consideration* Grovel, you say?
Lyall: Grovel, my lord.
- In Blameless, after Lord Maccon publicly accuses Alexia of cheating on him, he prints a retraction and apology in the newspaper.
- Happily Adopted: presumably Lord Akeldama's adoption of Prudence in Heartless will be this.
- Though partially subverted by the fact Lord and Lady Maccon still end up doing most of the parenting. The adoption is a political sop to the vampires.
- Historical-Domain Character: Queen Vicky herself shows up, in part to induct Alexia.
- Hotter and Sexier: The manga doesn't shy away either from showing Alexia and company in more compromising and outright sensual lights.
- Hybrid Monster: baby Prudence, product of a preternatural and a werewolf, is able to turn into an infant werewolf or vampire when touched by Lord Maccon or Lord Akeldama.
- I Call It "Vera": Ethel, Alexia's pearl-handled revolver.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: Werewolves and vampires, being essentially undead, are understandably infertile unless turned mortal by the Preternatural touch, but this pairing is so rare that it leads to Alexia being Mistaken for Cheating.
- It's All About Me: FELICITY. Her pettiness is Played for Laughs at first, but as the series progresses she turns out to be such a Manipulative Bitch that she borders on downright evil.
- It's Personal: What finally convinced Professor Lyall that something really needed to be done about Lord Woolsey.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The reason why Alessandro Tarabotti took on the Alpha werewolf who killed him. Against the protestations of said beloved.
- The Knights Templar: Apparently, the order was really into slaying supernatural creatures. Alessandro Tarabotti in particular was a result of a breeding program set up by the Templars to make specialized hunters...which didn't exactly work.
- Last Minute Baby Naming: This, interestingly, goes twice for the same character. Prudence is given a last-minute name when she's born, but in Timeless, Alexia figures out that toddler Prudence is far smarter than one may think. Nearly every "no" that has come out of her mouth after being addressed by her name isn't just the terrible twos. She hates her name! With just enough time to change things so that it won't be much of an issue, Alexia and Conall just shrug and tell her that she can pick her own name now.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: The back cover blurb for book 2 gives away the plot twist at the end of book 1, and the back cover blurb of book 3 gives away the plot twists for books 1 and 2. Tough luck for those who want to read the entire series at once.
- Lineage Comes from the Father: Justified for Preternaturals, given that females cannot carry a child to term. Metanaturals like Prudence are an exception, but their powers come from both parents.
- Mama Bear: Alexia and even Ivy have their moments, but Madame Lefoux takes first prize for trashing the Westminster hive with a giant robot to get Quesnell back.
- Medium Awareness: "He also seemed to speak predominantly in italics."
- Meaningful Nickname: Prudence makes one for Akeldama since she shortens his name to be a Portmanteau of the her words for her Mother and Father.
- Morning Sickness: In Changeless, Alexia Tarabotti gets nauseous on a zeppelin. Naturally it's later revealed that she's pregnant.
- Mr. Fanservice: Lord Maccon isn't shy about showing off in the manga. Being a werewolf tends to relax one's clothing standards.
- Ms. Fanservice: Alexia in the manga is sometimes seen either disheveled, in Victorian unmentionables or outright nude.
- The Nicknamer: Lord Akeldama. People he likes get nice ones like rose petal, lilac blossom, honeysuckle etc. People who rub him the wrong way like Madame Lefoux get squash blossom and the like.
- Noodle Incident: The Hedgehog Incident (for a while, at least).
- Obfuscating Stupidity: After two and a third books of everyone thinking her nothing but The Ditz, Professor Lyall realizes Ivy might be a little more sharp than she lets on. In book four, Ivy reveals that she's actually known about a lot more for a long time.
- Old Retainer: Floote. His loyalty to his dead master extends to running a long-distance supernatural extermination mandate in Egypt on his orders.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Biffy's full name first comes up in the fourth book Sandalio de Rabiffano
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts fade away as their bodies decay and cannot venture too far from them. They are addressed with the title of "Formerly (name)". Their bodies have to be preserved but they can't be simply immersed in formaldehyde because it interferes with their ability to exist as a ghost.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires usually live in hives, centered around a queen who has the power to change new vampires. They are tended by drones, humans who serve in hopes of one day being changed into vampires themselves. Only a vampire queen can turn humans and make them drones and all female vampires are queens, which is why they are harder to make. Vampire queens also can't leave their home unless they're about to be killed, and have only a few hours to find another permanent home. Queen vampires have two sets of fangs, one for eating and one for transformation, and as she gets older her transformation fangs grow and her success rate of creating another female into a queen to act as her successor goes up. Rogues are male vampires that do not belong to any hive but can still have their own drones that they can have the local queen transform if their application is accepted. Both rouge and queen vampire have the ability to "swarm" if threatened, which severs their link to their territory either temporarily or permanently depending on the situation.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves must change into mindless monsters at the full moon, and only the older ones can bear the touch of sunlight. They are as allergic to basil as vampires are to garlic. They are tended by clavigers, humans who serve in hopes of one day being changed into werewolves themselves. They are also just as dead as vampires and can only be made though a very bloody ritual preformed by a "True Alpha" werewolf. A "True Alpha" is a werewolf of either gender that has the rare ability to transform their head into a wolves' separately from the rest of their body referred to as an "Anubis Form". True Alphas also go insane faster than normal werewolves so their lifespans tend to be shorter.
- Out Giving Birth, Back in Two Minutes. In the head of an octomaton.
- Painful Transformation: All werewolves have this problem, but the older ones are better at hiding it.
- Papa Wolf: Lord Maccon, sometimes literally.
- Partial Transformation: Anubis Form - the head-only transformation necessary to change new werewolves. Not possessed by all Alphas, but Lord Maccon has it, and, as of Timeless, so does Biffy.
- Parasol of Pain: Alexia's weapon of choice, though her updated model she got from Madame Lefoux is also commented on averting the typical secondary trope while still being quite useful.
- Power Copying: Baby Prudence can steal a vampire or werewolf's powers, provided she does this at night, stays within a certain range of her victim, and the victim doesn't die.
- Power Nullifier: the preternatural touch, which reverts vampires and werewolves to their mortal states. Their remains will also do the trick, on a much wider scale.
- Pregnant Badass
- Put on a Bus: Madame Lefoux's son in the third book.
- Queen Victoria: Occasionally appears on the page.
- The Renfield: Drones, who serve vampire hives as retainers before petitioning for the bite. The werewolf equivalents are called Clavigers.
- Repetitive Name: Major Channing Channing of the Chesterfield Channings.
- Running Gag: The unfortunately named Captain Featherstonehaugh, whose only contribution to the stories is to be engaged to a different person every book.
- Ivy's horrible taste in hats is often mocked.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Alexia at one dinner party. Even her irritating mother admits that she looks nice.
- Shipper on Deck: Professor Lyall performs this function twice.
- He encourages Lord Maccon and Alexia's relationship, mostly because he's tired of their pussyfooting around.
- And at the above couple's wedding, he pushes Ivy and Tunstell together.
- Shout-Out: Pinky and the Brain gets one in Timeless.
Alexia, my dear, are you perhaps pondering what I'm pondering?
Alexia replied, without hesitation. "My dear Ivy, I very much doubt it."
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Used in Soulless as the next step in the Belligerent Sexual Tension.
She jerked back. "What are you...?"
"Only way to keep you quiet." He grumbled, taking her chin in a firmer grip and planting his mouth atop hers once more.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Alexia has a lot more steel than silk, but she does know her manners and use them when it suits her.
- The Soulless: Alexia Tarabotti was born without a soul, but she does not find her condition troublesome. She studies philosophy "to compensate for her natural lack of morals", and uses reason instead of spirituality to be a good person. Souls in this universe are a quantifiable possession — those who have large amounts, such as artists and musicians, are more likely to survive the transition into werewolf or vampire, while those who have none at all, such as the protagonist, can actually neutralize others' powers when in physical contact with them.
- There's no evidence other than in-universe religious dogma that the measurable "soul" is in any way related to the religious concept of a soul - from the in-universe scientific theories, it seems to be all a matter of how the body interacts with the "aether" which exists in this universe.
- The aether connection, rather than soullessness as our universe would call it, seems proven when Alexia falls in the drink and loses her ability to change werewolves back to human. Aether/water are opposites, and she reverted to 'natural' human in water.
- Spirited Young Lady: Alexia shows the wit and intelligence of this trope.
- Spot of Tea: It's a novel set in Victoriana, of course tea time is lovingly presented.
- Steam Punk: Dirigibles are simply one example.
- Suicide by Sunlight: Played with when Alexia touches a vampire so he can watch the sun set.
- They Walk Among Us / Broken Masquerade: The existence of vampires and werewolves are well known enough that the Her Majesty's government has a special department involving their concerns.
- Tsundere: Alexia, a combination of type 1 and type 2.
- Urban Fantasy: Yes, it really does count as this.
- Vampire Invitation: When the residence of the Westminster Hive is destroyed, Lord Akeldama refuses to invite the now-homeless vampires into his home because that act would mystically "sign over" his home to them. However, he's willing to let Alexia make that mistake — largely because it forced the Westminster Hive to relocate to Woolsey Castle outside of London. It's implied that this may not be the only way; when Countess Nasdasny is told that there is a new home for the Hive, her question is "who do we have to kill".
- What If the Baby Is Like Me?
- What Measureis A Non Cute: Most people seem to regard Alexia as plain and unattractive but to modern views she sounds very appealing. This is connected to Values Dissonance.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Werewolves, vampires and supernatural activities in general are described as being harshly persecuted in America, by virtue in part of not being human. But while the British Empire is considerably more tolerant if not outright largely accepting of them, there are still some Muggle groups who seem bent of wiping them out with the latest in Steam Punk science. Neither is the Vatican via the Templars all that keen with having such "abominations" walking amongst humanity.