Apr 042014

Cover for Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal. a white woman with brown curly hair in an up-do stands in the foreground in a Edwardian floral summer dress. behind her is a dark-haired and -goateed man in a white Edwardian suit, his outheld hand performing a glamour of fiery orange lights in the shape of a dragon. A medieval European church can be seen in the background.Publishers Weekly: 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.