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Changeless [Mass Market Paperback]

Gail Carriger
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2010 The Parasol Protectorate (Book 2)
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
CHANGLESS is the second book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

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Review

"Soulless has all the delicate charm of a Victorian parasol, and all the wicked force of a Victorian parasol secretly weighted with brass shot and expertly wielded. Ravishing."—Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians on Soulless

"Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. . . . This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Soulless

"Carriger has created a wonderfully detailed world that is just one step to the side of our own."—sfrevu.com on Changeless

"The second episode in the 'Parasol Protectorate' should win it even more fans. I'm already hooked."—Locus on Changeless

"The dialogue is as smart and snappy as ever, full of intelligent humor and artful verbal sparring."—All Things Urban Fantasy on Changeless

"Changeless is the equal to Soulless: witty, sexy, graceful, and unpredictable. With a few more novels this delightful, Ms. Carriger will be challenging Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris for the top of the New York Times bestseller lists."—Fantasy Magazine on Changeless

About the Author

New York Timesbestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! May 21 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The newly-wed Alexia has started her job as Queen Victoria's muhjah on the Shadow Council. The Council, consisting of the potentate (a vampire), the dewan (a werewolf), and the muhjah, advise the Queen on supernatural and preternatural matters within the empire. As she leaves Woolsey Castle for a Council meeting, she stumbles over a regiment or two's worth of werewolves setting up a bivouac on her front lawn. As it turns out, werewolves serve in the Queen's Army, and this particular crowd has just returned from India by way of Eqypt. Past practice has them meeting at Woolsey Castle before being dismissed to return home. Alexia meets her husband's 3rd (Major Channing), who doesn't recognize her for who she is, and nearly has to take up her parasol to defend herself before saner heads (specifically Professor Lyall) intervene. Alexia no sooner sends the werewolves off to set up their camp in the back garden when her best friend Ivy Hisselpenny arrives in a great to-do, bursting to tell Alexia her splendid news. All of which happens in Chapter One and before Alexia can even get off her property!

So begins the 2nd book in the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, and I couldn't have asked for a better sequel. Alexia is blooming in her role on the Shadow Council. Add to that a husband who understands her well enough to commission a very special parasol for her and she feels herself a lucky woman indeed. But what's life without a few challenges, eh? Alexia certainly has her work cut out for her what with Conall slipping off to Scotland without a word to her, a mysterious phenomenon that renders the supernaturals in London super-less, and an female inventor/scientist who dresses like a man and sets Alexia's instincts buzzing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Newlyweds Sept. 18 2011
By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Something has happened in the heart of London. The vampires and werewolves in the area have lost their supernatural abilities and the ghosts tethered there have disappeared, apparently exorcised. Is it coincidence that this has happened at the same time that several troop ships from the east have returned to England. whatever the cause, Alexia has been tasked by Queen Victoria to get to the bottom of it.

Lord and Lady Maccon have been married three months and are still enjoying their newlywed status when Conall is obliged to travel to his ancestral home in the Scottish highlands. It isn't long till Alexia's investigation leads her to follow him.

As we learned in Soulless, the first book in this series, trouble seems to follow Alexia. Marriage has not changed this aspect of her life. Even when travelling in the confined environment of the dirigible, she has her intrigues.

Along with returning characters vampire Lord Akeldama and the wonderfully hatted Ivy Hisselpenny, we are introduced to the enigmatic Madame Lefoux. Dressed as a man, she is much more than the hat maker than she claims to be. I imagine that someone such as her would have been a like a fresh breeze in such a rigid society. All those rules of etiquette to be obeyed even when it is one's own family visiting. Ivy is still a colourful character with her wild hats and gaily patterned outfits. We also see a different side of her. Previously I thought her fairly frivolous, though when she sees that Alexia is having a social challenge, she jumps right in and re-directs the conversation into another area, even though she has no idea what she is talking about. A very funny scene that had me chuckling out loud.

Just as with Soulless, I loved this story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice continuation of the series Aug. 18 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first one (Souless). That being said I will definitely be buy the next one in the series.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  179 reviews
90 of 96 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite live up to my high expectations March 31 2010
By Dunyazad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ugh. Please don't force me to read the next book in a series by introducing major new plot elements a few pages from the end and leaving them totally unresolved. I want to go on with a series because I'm enjoying spending time in that world, not because I was tricked by a cliffhanger ending. The ending of Changeless just left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Of course, I'm more forgiving of these underhanded tactics when I've been thoroughly enjoying the reading experience up to that point. Unfortunately, I can't quite say that that was the case here. It took about half the book before I was really engaged in the story at all, and even then there were elements that irked me.

I read in an author interview that while Soulless was structured like a romance, Changeless was supposed to be more like a mystery. Unfortunately, I think that some of the silliness that worked so well in a lighthearted romance didn't quite hit the mark here. It was one thing for Alexia's empty-headed friend Ivy Hisselpenny to be concerned only with hats and manners when there wasn't really much at stake, or at least nothing that wasn't being concealed from her; but in the context of someone hanging on for dear life, at risk of plummeting to sure death at any moment, or when people were being poisoned or shot at, her absolute idiocy was just grating--not to mention that I couldn't think too highly of Alexia for secretly laughing at her supposed friend all the time.

I also think that Changeless in general is lacking some of the interest of Soulless because the world is already established, and we mainly have to rely on plot and characters to keep us engaged now. One of the things I loved about Soulless was the unique setting and the descriptions of how vampires and werewolves were integrated into Victorian society, but in Changeless there wasn't much new in that regard.

Let me re-iterate here that these comments are coming from someone who absolutely loved Soulless. It's not by coincidence that I read Changeless as soon as it was released; I had been looking forward to this book for months. I'm sad to say that it was ultimately a bit of a disappointment.

And yet, when it comes to the final judgement, should you read this book? If you liked Soulless, of course you should, though I might advise waiting until September when the third book is released. And if you haven't read Soulless, I would highly recommend it. Even after being underwhelmed by Changeless, I'm looking forward to reading more of Carriger's work in the future.
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, but.... April 20 2010
By Kat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
You will notice that I gave this four stars, but that my review still has reservations.

The Plot:
Plenty of people have summed up the plot, so I will not be doing that here. Besides, I'm prone to giving away spoilers, so best to avoid this altogether.

To start, the good:
Loved, loved, LOVED this book as much as the original. The character interactions were as smooth and amusing, the humor was ever-present, the pacing was good, and the story overall was delectable. I am impatient to receive the third book simply because I enjoy this series, not because of the cheap authorial trick utilized. I would recommend it highly to almost anyone who loves werewolves, vampires, Steampunk, Victorian romances, the Victorian era, or just tea and parasols.

The Bad:
CLIFFHANGER ENDING.

This was a cheap and shoddy gimmick that I feel the author should be shot for. I feel it demeaned her story, her writing ability AND her readers. It was like the author, in an orgy of self-destructive tendencies, was jumping up and down screaming; "my writing sucks, and this is the only way I can get my readers to stay!!"

The Ugly:
More thorough editing, PLEASE. I was yanked out of the text at least once by an inconsistency involving the showing of the parasol, and later with logistical questions of it's use. I was annoyed by the amazing dumbing down of Ivy (though amused at the same time--worth the ride!), and more-so by the deliberate out-of-character denseness of Alexia herself regarding a certain matter. It is my opinion that a woman of imminent sense and logical mind, one who practically raised herself on her father's journals and had frequent close contact with Lord Akeldama would NOT tend to overlook the one glaringly obvious thing she refused to understand until the end of the book. It felt contrived, like the author needed the character ignorant, but not something the character would actually have been ignorant of.

The cliffhanger ending was also, I feel, a bad move. I ended the book on such a sour note that instead of thinking back on the book in pleasure, I found myself dissecting its flaws. The flaws mentioned above were only the ones I felt though the whole story, before the cliffhanger knocked me for a loop. My list of complaints afterwords was MUCH longer. And, despite the somewhat logical nature of the break between the two books, it also felt arbitrary, as if someone had randomly picked a place, and accidentally picked a chapter into the new book.

Final Summery:
I will finish the series and love every second of it.
I will recommend the series to all my frinds.
I do not, for an instant, regret my involvement with these books.
I still stand by that this author is a wonderful author, and the world she creates well worth every moment spent in it.

However, I can honestly say if this author ever works on another series, I will hold back on purchasing it until the entire thing is published in full, as I never want to have this trick pulled on me again. I am also feeling much less forgiving as a whole. If the upcoming book is later than six months, I probably won't buy it, and if it is shoddy, I will not be purchasing from her in the future.

This could just be me; I feel really strongly about the trickery of the ending, and the sour taste of it that lingered long after the novel was done. Again, if you are like me, don't buy this book until the new one is released. You'll be happier that way.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - another great entry in this wonderful series March 30 2010
By V. Chuba - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had the pleasure of devouring this book yesterday. The second in the Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless is as witty, smart and fun as its predecessor, Soulless, which I also recommend most highly. Gail Carriger is clearly a talented writer, capable of creating a unique and detailed world, clever dialogue, and relatable and believable characters. I didn't know much about steampunk before reading Soulless, but now I am hooked on the genre - if only all other steampunk offerings were as great as the Parasol Protectorate series!

I won't go into too much detail about the plot. Suffice it to say, almost everyone from book 1 is here, too. Alexia Tarabotti, having married werewolf alpha Connall Maccon, through series of events ends up traveling to Scotland on a dirigible, accompanied by assorted friends and family. The denoument takes place in Scotland, where she learns a lot about her husband's past. The mystery this time around isn't as strong as the one in the first book; instead, several supporting characters get more attention. Still, the book is fast paced and gives further insight into the fascinating world of Gail Carriger's Victorian Britain.

I feel that Changeless is less plot driven and more character driven than the first book in the series. This is by no means a disadvantage; Carrige's characterization is certainly strong enough. I'm particularly happy with how Alexia's relationship with Connall is progressing. Throughout the book, the two have an easy familiarity that is all barbs and sarcasm on the outside, and deep affection on the inside. However, not everything is rosy and perfect - their relationship is tested in several ways. I will not spoil this for you - and I highly recommend NOT to read the preview of her third book until you've finished this one. Believe me, it will be worth it. I will simply say that Gail found a way to challenge their relationship in a way that some readers might think as too much, but I find it makes the characters human and real. For the resolution of this challenge we will have to wait till book 3. Needless to say, I absolutely cannot wait; September is very, very far away!

In summary, this book is highly recommended. I would not advise to read it as a stand-alone though; it's definitely part of a series, and one simply must read Soulless first. If you are a fan of Victorian England, Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse and all things British; urban fantasy or paranormal romance; or just a roaring good read, I promise, you will enjoy both books.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do not approve of that ending, no sir May 7 2010
By branewurms - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Do not approve of that ending, no sir, and not simply because of the unnecessary cliffhanger. I abhor this kind of trope and find it appallingly sexist. And while I'm sure Ms. Carriger intends to acknowledge and deal with the sexism going on here, I find it repulsive, inappropriate for a generally lighthearted sort of narrative like this, and I don't want to read it, period. And I am also entirely unconvinced that the sexism will be dealt with to my satisfaction.

For one thing, my estimation of Lord Maccon has plummeted abysmally. I don't care how fiery-tempered, superstitious, or whatever else he is, there is absolutely no excuse for the disgusting way he behaved. Suspicion and unease? Fine, I can accept that. But not what he did. I really don't see how the narrative can deal with his awful behavior in a way that will satisfy me.

Also, setting aside my distaste for the whole business, it's my opinion that lighthearted, generally comedic things should end on high notes; I think if Ms. Carriger had to go with this trope regardless, it should have been introduced in the next book. That ending struck a very discordant note and left a sour feeling behind. When I read something lighthearted, I expect to finish feeling upbeat and happy, not sour and uneasy. I'm really not sure what anyone involved was thinking, ending it that way.

I did however love, love, love Madame Lefoux, and deeply regret that this incident is unlikely to push Alexia into her loving (and oh so lovely) arms. Madame Lefoux made me wish this were a lesbian romance instead. (And somehow I have the feeling this isn't the kind of narrative where the heroine gets to have multiple lovers, either... Sigh.)

Will probably still be reading the next volume, but that ending really left a sour taste behind.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rough Start to a Marriage and a Rougher Second Book June 18 2010
By Randy Stafford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Newlyweds often have many negotiations and arrangements to work out in their married lives. That holds true even when one is an aristocratic werewolf and the other a special advisor to Queen Victoria. So, when Lord Woolsey forgets to tell wife Alexia about the werewolf regiment that will be camping out on the grounds of their estate and then heads off to Scotland, she is none too happy. Especially, since she has also been charged by the Queen with figuring out why werewolves and vampires throughout London are reverting to fragile human form. Alexia being Alexia, literally soulless practicality and pragmatism, she sets off to set things right with or without her husband's help.

While still a mixture of romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and steampunk gadgetry that has something for everyone, this wasn't quite as entertaining as the first novel, Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate). And, being the middle book of a trilogy, it ends on a cliffhanger. The revelation precipitating the cliffhanger is entirely predictable almost from the beginning if not the problems stemming from it.

While the first book takes place entirely in London, this book feels more closed in though, geographically, it's more varied with a beginning in London, a dirigible journey and then Scotland being the setting for most of the rest of the book. That dirigible journey isn't as interesting as you would expect despite dirigibles being, perhaps, the classic steampunk motif. Readers with a steampunk jones for bizarre technology will have to settle for the aethographic machine - sort of a cross between fax machine and a primitive crystal radio set. When we're in that Scottish castle and learning whether or not its owners, the Kingair pack of werewolves, have anything to do with the plague of humanity affecting the supernatural set, the story feels sort of like one of those mysteries set at a English manor over a weekend.

While I appreciated the concentration on werewolf pack dynamics in Soulless, here they got a little tiring though we do get an explanation of why Alexia Trabotti's husband, Lord Woolsey, abandoned his Scottish pack for an English one. And the humor, including the coy references to the couple's sex life, got a bit stale. Indeed, the humor seemed more forced in this book, sometimes even reliant on anachronistic phrases.

On the plus side, Carriger explores the idea of soullessness in this novel and shows it's more than just a catchy title for the first book. And we learn something of Alexia's father and his past. And the solution to the mystery of a plague of humanity affecting werewolf and vampire is interesting and develops the background of this world, logically fits in with Alexia's nature.

And Carriger does introduce the appealing figure of Madam Lefoux, sort of a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Q from the James Bond movies. An attractive woman in mannish garb, designer of an even more elaborate and ugly parasol for Alexia to wield, her obvious come-ons to Alexia and the latter's seeming obliviousness to them actually do add some humor and erotic tension to the story.
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