Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Simon Voltaire, the Master of Paris, is the powerful Spark who rules over Europa's version of the City of Light. He is characterized as being content to stay at home defending only his own area and working in private inside Europa's version of the Eiffel Tower on his own projects, but maintaining the peace of Paris with an iron hand and the politest lawmen, who are normally given a wide amount of latitude to deal with problems.

He is a truly substantial man, on the lines of Master Payne, only even taller and wider, with dark purplish skin, white hair and his right eye either covered with or replaced by a large green lens. (Green appears to be his chosen color in terms of fashion as well.) He shows a distinct lack of appreciation for fine hats.

He is at least 200 years old, and assisted the original Storm King in his war against that era's Heterodynes; it is eventually revealed that he has wearily extended his existence by turning himself into some variety of cyborg; much of his aforementioned mass appears to be mechanical components.

He has been described as once being the apprentice of the master-Spark Van Rijn.

He has a daughter, Colette, who is introduced being in service to her father's government as a spy, along with numerous other offspring of various ages who all reside at the family château when in Paris. The Master evidently produced these offspring in the hope of finding a worthy successor as the city's ruler/controller, and states to an underling that Colette shows promise of being worthy of replacing him.

Why fear the Master?[]

Upon Agatha's arrival in Paris she takes in an amusing orientation that is quite informative. The incredibly lifelike marionette narrator (a young woman with reddish hair and dark skin) introduces Paris as the home of the Master and subject of no one's laws except his. Included in the "puppet show" are depictions of both Klaus Wulfenbach and the Master himself; oddly, the Klaus puppet is a more accurate copy of its model than the one for the Master.

Sadly, in short order, one of the Master's covert agents, Drusus Beausoleil, kidnaps Agatha and drags her into a confrontation with Du Quay, a would-be usurper of the Master's power, in an attempt to both thwart the man's plans and judge Agatha's abilities. While technically a success on both counts, the fallout from this act leads to the Master taking a personal hand in the matter, to the vast displeasure of both the Master and Beausoleil.

The Master grants Agatha an audience in the Awful Tower, where he shows a pronounced disinclination to assist her in freeing Mechanicsburg from its time-bubble. He reveals his policy of allowing some of the more peaceable Heterodynes to earn the right to very temporarily stay in his city, a privilege which is measured down to the hour. He gives Agatha three days, which is what was left on her father and uncle's account at the time of their disappearance(s).

Following Agatha's adventures in the Paris underground, the Master and the reader learn that Beausoleil has turned against his employer and infiltrated much of the city's systems, thanks to the technical knowledge given to him by his new Master; this individual has not yet been named, but the likelihood is high that s/he is some aspect of The Other, possibly The Queen of the Dawn. This forces the Master to reconnect himself directly to those systems, instead of using automated devices as had been the case in recent decades, as he aged, the city's population continued to swell, and he tried to find/raise/create a suitable replacement.

Having thus prepared, he goes forth to ruthlessly deal with an infestation of Geisters, and then face his former friend and ally Andronicus Valois, now a glowing Hulk-like undead abomination freed from his time-prison under the city. The two men have a final angry exchange of recriminations regarding the Heterodynes, in particular Valois's bride Euphrosynia, and with the assistance of Colette, Simon channels the entire power output of Paris through his body to melt Valois's two weapons. With the additional help of Agatha, Tweedle, Da Boyz and Jenka, Valois is skeletonized and finally reduced to dust. But the cost is heavy; while Grandmother unleashes a very showy celebration of Tweedle's literal claiming of the Storm King's crown, Voltaire lies alone, dying, on an abandoned street. Beausoleil appears in another of his clank-bodies and stabs the Master in the back with an elaborate sword decorated with a Heterodyne trilobite. It is soon revealed that this weapon serves multiple purposes: along with definitively killing Simon, it cuts him completely away from the city's systems, and sets up Agatha to be framed for the murder. However, as Beausoleil gloats about this turn of events, alarms begin to go off throughout the entire city, an indication that Colette has taken her father's place and then some as the new ruler and controller of Paris. She destroys all of Beausoleil's clank-bodies, banishing him from the city, and sets out to round up his co-conspirators.

Othar and the Master[]

According to Othar's Twitter, the Master had need of the services of everyone's favorite Gentleman Adventurer. Due to Othar's resulting violation(s) of Parisian security measures, as of this tweet the Master is also the latest entry on the long list of Sparks who want to exterminate Othar, although Othar's subsequent mental time travel presumably erased these events.

Master of France?[]

The title "Master of Paris" suggests that France -- or the area between the Pyrenees, the Wulfenbach Empire, and the Atlantic -- may not be a united polity, although no definitive information is available, apart from a comment in the aforementioned puppet show which describes the Empire as "surrounding" Paris. Othar's Twitter implies that the Master at least controls the Paris suburbs, with the boundary marked by a famous changing sign.

The Works[]


Simon Voltaire as he appears in the card game The Works

Long before his official arrival in canon, Simon Voltaire (Master of Paris, Spark) was depicted on a card in The Works card game. Unlike many similar individuals, his physical appearance in the game hews very closely to how he appears in the comic. In fact, he looks more accurate in The Works than he does in the puppet-show.

Possibly Relevant Outside Information[]

Monsieur Voltaire has a passing resemblance to the Marquis de London (on the wrong side of the Channel, of course) who in turn is a pastiche of the famous Nero Wolfe. Colette Voltaire may fill in for Lord Bontriomphe/Archie Goodwin.

François-Marie Arouet, the real-life author known as Voltaire, was an admirer of Isaac Newton, and himself conducted experiments aimed at understanding fire and light.

Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta, the namesake of the Volt, was an Italian physicist and chemist responsible for much early work concerning electricity around the turn of the 18th century. Much of Simon Voltaire's work as a spark seems to focus around these avenues of research. That and the similar name may indicate Volta providing some historical inspiration for Monsieur Voltaire.


  1. His first name was revealed by Grandmother for the first time within the story, but was previously known through his card in The Works.