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Latest News

Gail has added the last of her events for 2015.

Waistcoats & Weaponry won Steampunk Chronicle’s 2015 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Young Adult Steampunk Fiction!

Waistcoats & Weaponry has also been nominated for a Locus Award.

Kobo is offering Southwest Airlines customers complimentary access of eBooks while in flight. Little Brown has put forth Etiquette & Espionage. It will be available on board participating Southwest flights during the months of June and July.

Gail's monthly read along for June is Uprooted by Naomi Novik.


Books

Gail Carriger currently has three book series, all set in her whimsical steampunk meets urbane fantasy vision of the Victorian past.

The Parasol Protectorate Series

Beginning with Soulless, these five books chronicle the exploits of Alexia Tarabotti, a lady of considerable assets including large Scottish werewolf, battle-parasol, gossip, and treacle tart tenancies. Oh yes, and she has no soul.

The Finishing School Series

Sophronia is secretly recruited to a finishing academy located in a giant caterpillar-like dirigible floating over Dartmoor in which young ladies are taught to . . . finish . . . everything . . . and everyone . . . as needed. Book the First, Etiquette & Espionage, released early 2013 with three more to follow.

The Custard Protocol Series

The British Empire is deflating, only Rue and her marauding team of outrageous miscreants in their high-tech dirigible, the Spotted Custard, are still charging about trying to fix things, loudly and mainly with tea. The first book in this series is Prudence.

Gail´s Short Stories

Audio Books


Obligatory Bio

Bestselling 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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Miss Carriger's books are published in eighteen different languages. Twelve of them are New York Times bestsellers via 6 different lists (Mass Market, Hardcover, eBook, Young Adult, Series, and #1 in Manga). She has received the Alex Award from the American Library Association (for Soulless) and the Prix Julia Verlanger and the Elbakin Award from French readers. Her most recent release is Prudence first in the new Custard Protocol series.

The Parasol Protectorate series begins with Soulless and has been turned into a graphic novel and optioned for TV. Her young adult Finishing School series begins with Etiquette & Espionage and follows the exploits of Sophronia, a young woman who discovers her dreaded lady's seminary is a great deal more than expected. In the Custard Protocol series, beginning with Prudence, Rue and her crack (or possibly cracked) dirigible crew get into trouble around the Empire on behalf of queen, country, and tea. Gail also has a full cast audio production of her YA sci-fi Crudrat.

Subscribe to Gail's newsletter ~ Miss Carriger's Monthly Chirrup.


Gail Carriger

Book Review ~ The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley


In which I review The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley...

OK, part of the reason I chose this book was because McKinley's backlist (or at least some of it) was finally put up in ebook form. I've been on a quest to move (or donate) as many of my old mass markets as possible (when one lives in 600 square feet, one makes sacrifices). So when an ebook of an old favorite comes along I re-buy it. Don't worry, I am still left with a ton of books (so many are still OP).

The Outlaws of Sherwood was not one of those I kept. I got rid of it on my third trek to live in Europe. I've always enjoyed it, but it is very sad. Or that's what I remembered. And I wasn't wrong.

From here on out there are spoilers, so be warned.

There are conceits I really like about this book. The fact that Robin is a reluctant hero and leader ("He did not like it that they deferred to him so easily."), and that he isn't a very good marksmen. Is fun to see how McKinley plays with the legend. McKinley talks a bit about the politics and her reasoning behind the historical setting and owns her own doubts and issues with these parts of the story. Any flaws there don't really bother me as much as they would were I a medievalist. But I've never paid much attention to the time period as an archaeologist (ugly pottery) and so I give her a pass. I even don't mind the whole lack of Nottingham caves thing, after all, this book was written before the internet.

I did, however, struggle a bit with Robin's character. There is a conversation between Cecily and Little John near the end of the book, as follows:

"Little John said, “You do not think Robin is a stupid man.” 
She almost laughed. “No. He may be the most terrifying person I have met—because you believe what he tells you even when you know better. And yet I think he would quench that fire in him if he could—perhaps because it throws such dark shadows around the things he does not say."

I just never got this from descriptions of Robin and his behavior, I never felt I was shown this through the story, although I do love Cecily's assessment of the situation. While I don't mind being told, I'm not certain I believe. In building him up as primarily a reluctant hero, I found myself unconvinced on his leadership abilities. As McKinley herself writes, "I needed him to be a particular kind of hero with a particular set of preoccupations, surrounded by a company of people with preoccupations of their own."

Although, I did believe in his friendship with others.

The dogs stopped, confused, but the bows behind Will’s back stayed stretched. 
“I have the right-hand one in my eye,” murmured Marian; “and I the left,” replied Robin. “I am content with the center,” said Much.

Perhaps my lack of faith in Robin has something to do with McKinley's style of writing. She is one of those miraculous and wonderful writers who's power is often vested the things she leave unwritten. Here's an example...

He looked at her a moment longer, but when she lifted her eyes to meet his something happened to his face, and he turned away, and picked up the little pot of tallow again.

We aren't told what happened to Little John's face, or anything really about his inner feelings but we nevertheless know that he is half in love with Cecily and uncomfortable with his own realization. Here is another example:

"I think that we cannot go back to Greentree, and be as we were.” He shrugged again—and winced; and brought his eyes back to Sir Richard. “And perhaps it is only the bruises which speak this way.”

You see? Masterful.

Normally, this style works so very well for McKinley, but for me it made Robin's character fall flat. Also while I like the love affair between Robin and Marian, I found it less interesting than those of the side characters such as Little John and Cecily and even Sybil and Eva.

That said, I had forgotten her twist near the end, that is no twist because Marian turns it down.

“But to you, too, Marian of Trafford, I give a choice; and yet what I ask of you might be a thing more hard than soldiering.” He stopped, turned, and faced her. “I would make you the new sheriff of Nottingham.”

I actually gasped out loud, between my tears, at this juncture. Yes, I spent most of the final 1/4 of the book in tears from the last stand battled against Guy (told from Tuck's perspective) to the denouement (or should I say deus ex machina?) of Richard and his conscription.

Enough of the things I found not precisely to my liking.

What do I still love about Outlaws of Sherwood?  Enough to remember this book decades later a put it on my re-buy and reread list.

Will Scarlet


“A great hulking tatterdemalion like this and you have not treed him?"

...and Robin thought, perhaps he has learnt to use his charm so forcefully because his life has not been so easy as I would make it.

I adore the character of Will Scarlet in the legend of Robin Hood, always have. And I love McKinley's descriptions of him. (Although, I don't see him as a blond. But that is a minor quibble.)

“I have thought, every time I fled from you, of how much I missed you.…” Her voice trailed away, and Will held out his arms, and Cecily went to him. They stood silently, and he stroked her ragged hair, and she sighed and leaned against him as if exhausted.

Little John


"You cannot be as large as I am without knowing that everyone else is smaller."

Much as I do not imagine Will as a blond, I can't imagine Little John as anything but blond. But that is irrelevant to his being one of my all favorites in this book. 

“Little John, you do not understand the art of conversation,” said Much. 
“I understand the art of silence,” said Little John.

Robin seems very fond of Little John as well and there is sense that he understands his friend's skills and weaknesses. Perhaps this is part of the way we are being shown what a good leader Robin is, but for me it came across more as Robin being a good friend. Anyway, when Cecil first stumbles amongst them, Robin says to Little John that Cecil will be “Intimidated into behaving himself. It is a thing I value you for. I am over-inclined to yell, and I cannot loom as you do.”

McKinley's Little John, now that I think about it, perhaps informed Floote and to a certain extent Percival and Pillover. I love competent grumpy men who don't say much. They make me happy. 

Cecily


“And I’ve woken up every morning since I ran away hoping that I might have one more day of it—even these last days."

As the girl who disguises herself as a boy it should come as no surprise, I hope, to you Gentle Reader that Cecily is my favorite character. When I originally read the book I can't recall if I figured it out or not. I mean, that he was a she.

Let him not be some mad lord’s only son, thought Robin, suddenly daunted. Some day we will accept someone into our company whom Sherwood cannot hold.

"But I hope his peevishness is not important. I do not like secrets; Greentree is crowded enough without them."

The revelation when it finally comes is no surprise but it is charming. Even if the actual event occurs off screen in a very Greek drama kind of way. 

Little John, watching her standing next to her brother, half-glowering in the old Cecil manner and half-comforted by Robin’s words, saw for a moment what it had been like for her as Will’s little sister. Some of what she was good at, and some of what she was bad at, as his pupil, came clear to him in that moment; and something else came clear to him too, but he set it aside so quickly that he allowed himself not to recognise it for what it was.

Of course I also love the relationship between Cecily with all her rashness and brashness and Little John with all his large silence. They both battle hidden anger that comes from fear, but you can understand even before her secret is revealed why they gravitated towards one another. 


“Will’s little sister saved my life,” Little John added as if inconsequentially.

I have one last thing to note about this book, which I know I didn't realize on my original read. It's third person omniscient, AKA head hopping. Now Soulless is also a head hopping novel, and frankly I tend to rather like them as a reader. I enjoying knowing what other characters are thinking and I may go back and write some more myself. Possibly this has to do with being raised on Dickens but it just doesn't bother me. It's one of the things I like about a lot of romance novels. So nothing really to say about the head hop, only noting that it is there.

{Gail's monthly read along for June is Uprooted by Naomi Novik}


GAIL'S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Ladies' Pocket Magazine Date-  Wednesday, May 1, 1839 Item ID-  v. 21, plate 56

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Goldfish teabags will turn your cup into a fishbowl

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Robotic Octopus Arm Could Revolutionize Surgery 

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
17 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Bookstores


PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! Final stages.
  • Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First. OUT NOW!  
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny
 The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
Soulless Vol. 1, Soulless Vol. 2, Soulless Vol. 3
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song, & Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar

Book News:
Five Books That Broke Sacred Writing Rules (And Yet We Love Them)

Quote of the Day:
"The covered bowl proved to contain pickles so powerful that the reek of vinegar when the friar removed the lid made Much’s eyes water, who sat nearest. The pot contained a vegetable stew of uncertain origin; and the dubious wrappings did contain cheese, of a potency, in its way, to rival the pickles."
~ Robin McKinley

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