The Parasol Protectorate

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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 first book in the series was given a Manga adaptation by Yen Press.

Novels

  1. Soulless
  2. Changeless
  3. Blameless
  4. Heartless
  5. Timeless (March 2012)
Tropes used in The Parasol Protectorate include:
  • Action Girl: Neither Alexia nor Madame Lefoux shy away from kicking ass.
  • Alternate History: Pretty obviously, really.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant: Alexia, since her husband is supposed to be infertile. Leads to Mistaken for Cheating because of it.
  • Camp Gay: Lord Akeldama with his dandy fashions and effeminate manner of addressing people. He has a harem of male drones (all Camp Gay themselves) although he's in love with Biffy.
  • 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 Unfavourite.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Several, but Professor Lyall is the most obvious.
  • 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.
  • Eagle Land: The second variety. America is an ignorant hellhole for supernatural creatures; vampires and werewolves alike are shunned, scorned, hunted and killed.
  • Emergency Transformation: Biffy in book 3 and Ivy in book 5.
  • 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.
  • Gaslamp Fantasy
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Last-Minute Baby-Naming
  • 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.
  • Medium Awareness: "He also seemed to speak predominantly in italics."
  • Morning Sickness: In Changeless, Alexia Tarabotti gets nauseous on a zeppelin. Naturally it's later revealed that she's pregnant.
  • The Nicknamer: Lord Akeldama.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Out Giving Birth; Back in Two Minutes. In the head of an octomaton.
  • Pregnant Badass
  • 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.
  • Put on a Bus: Madame Lefoux's son Quesnel in the third book.
  • Queen Victoria: Occasionally appears on the page.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.

  • 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.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Alexia shows the wit and intelligence of this trope.
  • Steampunk: Dirigibles are simply one example.
  • Invisible to Gaydar: Lyall, although it's implied he may be bi instead - pretty much confirmed in the fifth book.
  • Suicide by Sunlight:
  • Urban Fantasy: Yes, it really does count as this.
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me?