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.
©2014 Mary Robinette Kowal (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Mary Robinette Kowal is an experienced audiobook narrator as well as a gifted writer. She also works another of her creative talents, as a puppeteer, into the novel's plot. The storyline is built on the witty premise that two highly skilled illusionists find themselves cozened by con artists who excel at making people believe in false appearances. The Vincents quickly find themselves far from home in Italy with no funds at hand and no fortune at all after the thieves clean out their bank accounts. Yet not all hope is lost: Jane finds help at a local convent among nuns who are indignant when they learn of the couple's plight, and several plucky characters prove to be capable allies when the illusionists undertake a daring plan to trick the tricksters and bring them to justice. Reading the previous books would be advisable to understand references made in the novel to past events. This is another enjoyable addition to the series.
I read and liked the first three books in this series, and was pleased to buy the fourth. I liked the story, but I kinda wish I'd read it rather than listened. Mary is a great writer, and has a good voice, but I came out liking this a little less than previous books. I think its simply the change in format: I got used to the experience of reading, so switching to listening made me dislike it. Also, she reads a little slower than I prefer, which can be slightly annoying.
Summary: listen if you listened to the previous ones and liked them. Don't switch from reading to listening halfway through the series.
This is a fun read. So far, my favorite of the series.
However, the reader CANNOT do accents. She's great at the uppercrust brit accent, but they encounter Italians and Venetians, and she tries to do an accent. It's terrible.
This is a great book, but better read than listened to.
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