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Valour and Vanityby Mary Robinette Kowal
Synopses & Reviews
Mary Robinette Kowal's Valour and Vanity is a Regency version of a heist movie with a healthy dose of magic sprinkled in.
After Melody's wedding, the Ellsworths and Vincents accompany the young couple on the their tour of the continent. Jane and Vincent plan to separate from the party and travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs while en route. It is their good fortune that they are not enslaved, but they lose everything to the pirates and arrive in Murano destitute.
Fortunately, one of the gentlemen from the ship is a local banker and arranges for a line of credit and a place to live. Relieved, the Vincents begin the work for which they have come to Italy.
All is proceeding apace until a solicitor arrives at their house and charges them with illegal trespass. Jane and Vincent produce letters from their banking friend, but they are all forgeries, and worse, he has used their forged letters to clean out their funds in England. Now, Jane and Vincent owe money to a number of people in town and are forbidden from travel. They manage to find some small work, but it is obvious to both of them that this path will not maintain them for long.
Instead, Vincent hatches a reckless plan to get their money back. The ensuing adventure is a glorious envisioning of all the best parts of heist narratives, but in a Regency setting with magic.
"The espionage potential of magical illusions sets the stage for Kowal's fourth alternate-Regency caper (after Without a Summer). Lady Jane and Sir David Vincent, both accomplished at the art of spinning strands of magic into the sounds and images called 'glamour,' leave England to visit Venice and Murano. Their plan is to work with Murano's glassmakers, under the guise of visiting Vincent's friend Lord Byron, and capture glamour in glass so that it can be moved from place to place. After their ship is attacked by 'a Barbary corsair,' Vincent is injured and the pirates relieve the pair of their valuables. They arrive in Venice sans papers and discover Byron is away; their straits are dire. A banker offers lodging and monetary assistance, but their relief turns to dismay when they begin to suspect his motives. Jane and Vincent's affectionate but never anachronistic relationship, and Kowal's clever incorporation of period artifacts into the schemes, are of particular note. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Agency. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Acclaimed fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal has enchanted many fans with her beloved novels featuring a Regency setting in which magic — known here as glamour — is real. In Valour and Vanity, master glamourists Jane and Vincent find themselves in the sort of a magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen wrote Oceans Eleven.After Melody's wedding, the Ellsworths and Vincents accompany the young couple on their tour of the continent. Jane and Vincent plan to separate from the party and travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs while en route. It is their good fortune that they are not enslaved, but they lose everything to the pirates and arrive in Murano destitute.Jane and Vincent are helped by a kind local they meet en route, but Vincent is determined to become self-reliant and get their money back, and hatches a plan to do so. But when so many things are not what they seem, even the best laid plans conceal a few pitfalls. The ensuing adventure is a combination of the best parts of magical fantasy and heist novels, set against a glorious Regency backdrop.
About the Author
Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo winner for her story “For Want of a Nail.” Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimovs, and several Years Best anthologies. She also writes the Glamourist History series, which began with Shades of Milk and Honey. A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and many manual typewriters.
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