Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Review: Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Valour and Vanity
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories (Book 4)

Description: 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 Ocean's 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.

My Thoughts: In this adventure, Jane and Vincent are on the their way to Murano to work with glassmakers to further develop the process they invented in Glamour in Glass. However, on the way they are beset by Corsairs, robbed of all their possessions and Vincent is concussed. They find themselves in Murano destitute. Luckily, they are taken in by a fellow victim of the Corsairs named Sanuto. He claims to be a wealthy banker from Venice.

Jane writes to her parents for assistance but her parents are traveling with Melody, her husband, and her husband's family on a tour of the continent. Sanuto bankrolls them and introduces them to the only glassmaker in Murano who is willing to work with them. Then the unthinkable happens...

Jane and Vincent are arrested and accused of defrauding the glassmaker and the merchants who sold them their replacement wardrobes. The real owners of the villa where they were staying also want repayment. Sanuto had scammed them in order to steal Vincent's process with glamour and glass which has military applications.

Jane have to find a way to survive in Murano while waiting for help from Jane's parents or Vincent's friend Lord Byron. Jane is hired by the sisters at the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli to teach glamour and Vincent becomes a street magician. Vincent is also determined to track down the group that scammed them to bring them to justice.

This was an exciting heist story where the good guys manage to triumph over the villains. I loved the relationship between Vincent and Jane which gave each of them the opportunity to be the strong one in the relationship.

Fans of historical fantasy and heist novels will greatly enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"Thank you." Jane took the dress. "My husband can also be a curmudgeon when he works."

Vincent frowned at her wit a look that said he could hear her, and also proved her point.
I bought this book. You can buy your copy here.

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