This third installment of the Parasol Protectorate
was just the right blend of mystery, steampunk creations, revisionist history and perfect witty dialogue and delightful narration from the ever-enjoyable Alexia! And there were less scenes of sensuality overall, which is the only thing I disliked about the first two, which was nice.
Alexia, never one to be dumbfounded by unfavorable circumstances, takes her husband's abandonment, her friend Lord Akeldema's disappearance and her own family's turning her out of the house in stride, not to mention the assassination attempt by the vampires via mechanical, poisonous ladybugs, and heads to the Continent in search of some much-needed answers. Instead, what she finds is a new friend, an assortment of new enemies and organizations that want her dead, and the joy of pesto!
In the end, however, we are left with more questions than ever. What will Alexia and Conall's child be exactly? What was Lyall's plan to protect Alexia and how do Biffy (and really, what is that poor man's name
?) and Lord Akeldema figure into it? Why is Floote so very silent on the subject of Alessandro Tarrabotti and just how much does he know? What is the reason behind his devotion and loyalty to Alexia (or is it merely to her deceased father, whom, to be frank, Floote does not seem to have cared for overly much)? I do very much like Floote:) At what point will Conall finally run Lefoux off? Or Alexia herself realize the nature of Genevieve's interest in her and decline said interest herself? Trouve was a delight. As was Ivy! We finally see that there is much more to her than gossip and poor taste in headgear! Very, very much looking forward to Heartlessin July 2011!
Also, I liked seeing some real emotion (other than anger or frustration) from Alexia. To see her betrayal and hurt, her real emotion this time really helps bring her character into focus. I loved watching Alexia go from thoroughly vexed with the "infant-inconvenience" to coming to a tolerant sort of treaty-state with it, and then becoming protective and even the teensiest bit affectionate. Seeing what changes the rest of her pregnancy and beyond brings to her promises to be interesting.
Conall actually seemed to care about Alexia and not simply as his partner for the conjugal arts, which is the only aspect in which he seemed to view her at all to-date. This time he at least seemed to have some feelings for her besides that. I would appreciate seeing more an actual relationship between them than detailed descriptions of their bedroom antics. And despite his public retraction, he still has a lot of groveling to do and I hope we get to see that in the next book.
Alexia's soulless state continues to confound me intellectually. So, she has no soul. According to most Western philosophers, a soul is the essence of a human being - their mind, intellect, desires and will. Alexia has all of those in abundance. She lacks the aspect of a soul deciding how we behave (which will correlate to the religious aspect of ethics and morality), choosing to base her own personal code upon civility and extreme courtesy and politeness. In the religious sense, a soul is the will, intellect and imagination, responsible for conduct and is an immortal and sentient entity, independent of the mortal body. Alexia is supposedly damned, yet without a soul she will simply cease to exist and so cannot actually end up in hell, thus "damned" seems a misnomer at best. Though "destined for oblivion" is admittedly unwieldy as a slur. And she does lack creativity, mostly. And then a soul is often just denoted as the life force and as Alexia is certainly alive, I should like to know how without a soul.
And, as always, despite the convenience, must religious people always be the crazy, evil, narrow-minded fanatics? Is is reasonable that no religious person ever sees the supernatural as part of creation rather than anathema? Really?