At long last I made it to book 5 of the Parasol Protectorate series. We find Lady Alexia Maccon, formerly Tarabotti, ensconced in married life to Lord Maccon, alpha of the now London Pack. At the conclusion of book four, Heartless, the pack had been forced to move into town to accommodate swarming vampires and Timeless finds the pack and their alphas two years later dealing with their daughter Prudence and her adoptive father Lord Akeldama. All of it is very complicated and perhaps the reason why book four was my least favorite of the series. But Timeless does not serve its purpose as the final chapter in the Parasol Protectorate series.
This go around Alexia receives a summons from Matakara, Queen of the Alexandria hive and the oldest living vampire. The Maccons, along with the Tunstells and their acting troupe, whom they take along as cover, set out for Egypt where, inevitably, they encounter adversity, mystery and adventure. The entire first part of this book is a retread and filler, with the author re-visiting some of the more memorable places and characters from the previous books – the hat shop now run by Biffy, the Woolsey Hive (with notable appearances from Countess Nadasdy and Mabel Dair), the fleeting return of Felicity Loontwill in a flurry of spite, the sudden reappearance of Lady Kingair and a single appearance of Guatve Trouve, in order to deliver a replacement parasol after the two intervening years to name just a few.
After the lazy intro, the meat of the plot and the wrap up were rushed and left this reader feeling emotionally manipulated. But the most disappointing thing of all is that the main mysteries of the books – the Order of the Brass Octopus, the nature of the soulless/soulstealers – remain unanswered pretty much completely, unless you count the fact that Alexia’s abilities are discovered to be cancelled out when she is submerged in water. We also spend no time further investigating the BUR or the Shadow Council, or any other aspects of the supernatural world in Carriger’s universe.
Noting all that, there is one storyline in the book that kept me from giving up on it entirely. The relationship between Biffy and Lyall. It was nice to have a homosexual relationship which was genuinely sweet and not reduced to stereotypes. I also appreciated the elegant solution introduced by Carriger to deal with Connall’s immortality and that our protagonist never voices any concern about becoming more aged than her love. But the thing I like most is Alexia’s personality remains very much her own, with her own separate interests, friends and responsibilities. I am however ready to be done with Alexia and her world.