Saturday, August 2, 2014

Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess - Phil and Kaja Foglio

    2012; 481 pages.  New Author? : No.  Books #4-#6 (kinda) of the Girl Genius series.  Genre : Gaslamp Fantasy; Graphic Comic Novelization.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    Agatha H. is fleeing from the Baron Klaus Wulfenbach.  In an airship.  Just her and a cat.  Some might say it’s a stolen airship.  But as of now it’s a crashed stolen airship, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

    Like running away with (and hiding in) a traveling circus.  But what acrobatic or entertainment skills can Agatha offer them to earn her keep?  Well for one thing, she has a pretty decent Talking Cat routine.

What’s To Like...
    Agatha H & the Clockwork Princess is a novelization of the immensely popular graphic comic series Girl Genius, penned by the husband/wife team of Phil and Kaja Foglio.  ANAICT, the series is up to #12 now, and the Foglios are gradually converting the graphic novels to Kindle books, three GN's per novel.  I read the first novelization back in 2012; its review is here.

    Frankly, the story here starts out slow, with Agatha traipsing around in the woods after crashing the blimp, then joining the circus and doing menial tasks.  The “Talking Cat” shtick got tossed when it was discovered that the cat really could talk.

    However, the pacing gradually gains steam, and by the halfway point, the action is nonstop.    You will meet a slew of new characters, especially in the circus, but just a few of them need to be kept track of.  The three Jagermonsters, Maxim, Ognian, and Dimo, are a great addition to the storyline’s main cast.

    There are a bunch of kewl Discworldian footnotes, although it might have been better to put the links/notes at the end of the book instead of at the end of each chapter.  I also encountered quite a few typos for a non-self-published book.  Whoever converted/proofed this book should return his fee.

    There were a couple instances of mild cussing, and a few “adult situations”.  They were tasteful, but still surprising, given that the target audience of the graphic novels is teenage girls.  But little Agatha is growing up, and passion and romance are in the air.

    The ending ties things up nicely, while of course still leaving you hungering for the next installment.  Some characters – both good ones and bad ones - die along the way.  I like that.  I grow tired of the Star Wars/Battlestar Galactica mentality that heroes should only kill robots, droids, or mechanized insects.

Kewlest New Word. . .
Obstreperous (adj.) : Noisy and difficult to control; unruly; disruptive.

    Agatha lowered her voice.  “We’re the good guys, remember?  We do not eat children.  We do not even threaten to eat children.  He is not ‘Provisions.’”
    Krosp’s ears flattened.  “Whaaaat?!  Why not?  It’s up a tree Maybe it’s a bird!”
    “He talks!”
    “Lots of things talk!  Maybe it’s a parrot!”
    “He’s not a bird!”
    Krosp looked back up at the now fascinated boy.  “Squirrel?” he hazarded.  (loc. 616)

    “So he’s not much for intellectual discussion?”
    Agatha shook her head.
    “Good kisser though, eh?”
    Agatha had blushed and nodded.  Even though all they had done was kiss once a night onstage, those kisses had been getting better and better.
    “So kiss him enough that he doesn’t have a chance to mess things up by talking.”
    Agatha frowned.  “That seems like an extremely poor blueprint for a long-term relationship.”  (loc. 5438)

Kindle Details...
    Agatha H & the Clockwork Princess sells for $13.67 at Amazon.  The first book is currently selling for the low, low price of $1.99, so this is a good time to try out the series.  The third book (presumably covering Graphic Novels #7-#9) is due out in January 2015, and will sell for $13.99.  For whatever reason, the present book is twice as long as either of the other two.

It was said that if you interrupted a Jager at dinner, you’d be the dessert.  (loc. 7888)
    As an adult reader, what impressed me the most about AH&TCP was the strength of the main characters.  Naturally, Agatha is the most impressive one.  When she’s not running around being the Chosen One, she is busy being one heck of a mechanical engineer.  There are other books that have strong female characters of course, but usually it’s at the expense of some pretty wimpy male counterparts.

    Here, *all* the main characters – good and bad, male and female, human and otherwise – are strong. Heck, even the talking cat is a strong character.  Furthermore, nobody finds it strange or exceptional that Agatha is, and excels at being an engineer.  This makes Girl Genius a truly amazing series.

    Similarly, none of the characters are pure good or pure evil.  Honestly, I’m still not sure which side of the moral compass has the greater influence on Klaus, Gil, Othar, or Bangladesh Dupree.

    8½ Stars.  If you have a teenage or tweenage daughter, I highly recommend this series, although in truth, they may enjoy the graphic novel format better.  But adults reading the novelized version will be entertained as well. 

No comments: