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Valour and Vanity Hardcover – April 29, 2014


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Valour and Vanity + Without a Summer + Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (April 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076533416X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765334169
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

If Jane Austen were to write about a magical heist, her novel would not be all that different from the fourth installment in Kowal’s (Without a Summer, 2013) Glamour History series. Jane and Vincent travel to Murano, an island off of Venice, to study glassblowing in hopes of amalgamating it with glamour (magic). Though clever, they fall victim to an elaborate hoax that consumes their funds and leaves them stranded in Italy. Living in poverty, they team up with Catholic nuns and a street puppeteer to enact retribution. Adventures, obstacles, and high jinks propel the story while upholding its romantic core. Jane and Vincent’s healthy, steadfast marriage makes sense in the Regency era yet satisfies modern standards, even when their quips and stubbornness create problems instead of solutions. The act of weaving glamour into art or apparatuses makes for entrancing imagery, complementing Kowal’s Victorian writing style and enhancing the action-packed scenes. Lively, well written, and with sprinkles of history, Valour and Vanity will charm both adventurers and romantics. Add Lord Byron as cohort for extra fun. --Biz Hyzy

Review

With magic, manners, mayhem, and no small measure of derring-do - the Glamourist Histories are everything you could wish for in a sleek, fashionable fantasy series. A shimmering adventure for history buffs and glamour enthusiasts alike. -- Cherie Priest With the grace of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, a touch of classic fairy tale magic, and an action-packed ending, [the Glamourist Histories] will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Susannah Clarke, and even Jasper Fforde. Library Journal Kowal has captured both the style and content of an Austen novel, adding her own speculative fiction twist. Readers who enjoyed such novels as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell will find [the Glamourist Histories] appealing as well The Jane Austen Centre, Bath Startlingly good. -- Patrick Rothfuss Simply enchanting. -- John Scalzi A delightful read, with an examination of the craft and emotion of art combined with deftly drawn characters, laugh-out-loud wit and a magical re-imagining of Georgian society. SFX I love these books! They're an ideal mix between adventure, character, and magic. -- Brandon Sanderson In her Glamourist Histories series, she captures the tone of an Austen or a Heyer, while setting the stories in a world where ladies of Quality must manipulate Glamour to create intricate illusions. USA Today --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010). In 2008 she won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2011, her short story "For Want of a Nail" won the Hugo Award for Short Story. Her work has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. Stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and several Year's Best anthologies as well as in her collection Scenting the Dark and Other Stories from Subterranean.

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She also records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi.

She is the Vice President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Mary lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit www.maryrobinettekowal.com.

Customer Reviews

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She’s heard a rumor pirates rove the Gulf of Venice!
Jaylia3
This was an excellent novel that kept me up a few times reading when I ought to have been asleep- and that's rare for me these days.
Cissa
If Glamour in Glass was your favorite in the series before reading this, you will probably enjoy it and might have a new favorite.
Meg Petz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cissa on May 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are not reading this series by Kowal, this book- the fourth- is a fine place to start. Its tone is a lot different than that of the previous novels, though- they were more "Jane Austen with magic", and this one is "if Austen wrote a heist/intrigue novel..."

We get to see much more of Jane's and Vincent's relationship, and how they are learning to work together and rely on each other, albeit through struggles both within the relationship and caused by outside forces. Fot this reason, it seemed more intimate to me than the previous novels in the series, much as I loved them.

Also, the plot is more obviously exciting! Pirates! Swindles! Reversals of fortune! Revenge! Secret motivations and spying! and even Lord Byron! Kowal did a brilliant job of winding the very personal and intimate into the more carefully convoluted and eventful plot, with each reflecting on the other in many ways. Wonderfully wrought!

The other characters come alive, too, both the Good Guys and the not. I especially loved the portrayals of the nuns. Having attended a Catholic women's college, I learned great respect and admiration for nuns, and these are GREAT nuns, each very distinct.

I also appreciated that the glamour- the magic- was described more precisely, giving me a better idea of what it can and cannot do.

This was an excellent novel that kept me up a few times reading when I ought to have been asleep- and that's rare for me these days.

Highly recommended, for a perspective on the Regency era and for those who would love a very unique magical system in fantasy, or who have been reading the series. I think this one is my favorite in it thus far.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By How Roode on May 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having just finished Valour and Vanity, I find myself wishing that the rest of the books in the Glamourist Histories had been heist novels! This book is head and shoulders above the other three in the series, both in terms of character development (and likability), and of plot, not to mention the evocation of time and place.

What most impressed me in this book was how Kowal managed to balance the intrigue and suspense of a heist story with the unsettlingly intimate and personal portrayal of a marriage in an all-too-common crisis. I suspect I am not the only wife to feel that I've had the exact same argument as the Vincents, almost word for word. Had that struggle made up the majority of the novel, it would have been too heavy-handed, but when interwoven with the mystery and action of a pirate attack, spy activities, and a quest for revenge, it makes for an exciting and compelling novel.

In short, each Glamourist book has been markedly better than the last, so I can't wait for the final installment!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By raesdays on May 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I have not yet read the three books before this, but that did not keep me from enjoying Valour and Vanity tremendously, and it should not stop you from picking up any book from this series either.

The Regency era is Jane Austen’s England. The Prince Regent, who is the son of Mad King George (remember him from learning about the revolution, my American friends?), is a big proponent of excess and art, and Jane and Vincent work as his glamourists. Glamour is basically magic that creates illusions by manipulating light and sound.

And that becomes Vincent and Jane’s trade in this novel: not glamour, but illusion.

When the couple heads to Murano to find a glassmaker, they are waylaid by pirates. And that is the least alarming thing that happens to them on this trip. They end up swindled by those they thought were friends and can’t leave Murano until they pay back what they owe.

It seems so simple right? If you lose your money on vacation, you go back to your hotel and call the bank, or your mom, or the American Embassy, if things really go wrong. But Jane and Vincent don’t have telephones or airplanes or online banking. Penniless, and with no practical skills save for glamour, they are left with nothing but each other. Well, that and Jane’s wedding ring, which they pawn for cash.

We never have quests any more. When is the last time you had to go somewhere to find something or bring it back or travel to create something you need or fulfil your destiny? We don’t even have to go to the mall at Christmas time, you can just order everything online. Our problem solving these days is very different from what Jane and Vincent face.

But what they go through is familiar. I’ve been poor and struggling to pay the rent.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I have thoroughly enjoyed the first three books of the Glamourist History series, which has only gotten better as it goes on, but when I read the description of the fourth book I wasn’t positive that improving trend would continue, at least for me. Pirates? The Regency version of a heist film? Those may appeal to many but aren’t my preferred cup of tea. I love that the earlier books incorporate historic events into an alternate Regency world that shimmers with glamour--a magical art of illusion. Napoleon’s wars, the Luddite uprising, and the 1816 climate disruption are integral parts of their narratives, but the new book’s plot synopsis does not hint at a similar use of history. Still, I trust Mary Robinette Kowal’s storytelling skills so there was no way I would miss her latest. I just hoped I would love Valour and Vanity as dearly as the others.

A tip from Lord Byron sends Jane and her husband Vincent to the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre where an ancient but still vibrant lion glamour roars and struts among the rubble. That beautiful lion is forever fixed in place because glamoured images made with traditional methods cannot be moved, but Jane and Vincent hope to perfect a new way of creating glamour by weaving its threads into molten glass which could then be easily transported. To that end they are headed to the island of Murano, famous for its glass-making artistry. They have been on a mostly joyous Continental trip with the rest of Jane’s family, celebrating her sister Melody's wedding, but Jane is glad she and Vincent will soon be alone because her mother can tend to be high strung. Sure enough Mrs. Ellsworth musters a Mrs. Bennet worthy panic as Jane and Vincent’s ship is about to depart. She’s heard a rumor pirates rove the Gulf of Venice! Pirates!
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