Jun 9

RT Book Reviews on Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

When it comes to writing historical fantasy that is at once absorbing, exciting and incredibly moving, Kowal is in a class by herself. Just as Kowal’s previous book, Without a Summer, blended elements of fantasy with a very real depiction of class struggle, Valour and Vanity balances the adventure of a heist with a poignant portrayal of sudden poverty. Kowal’s skill for writing characters who have fantastic abilities and yet remain deeply human, as susceptible to their own insecurities as anyone you or I know, is just part of what makes her one of the best talents in fantasy.

Married glamourists Jane and Vincent set sail for the Italian port of Murano to study with glassblowers and perfect their “glamour in glass” technique, before meeting up with rakish poet Lord Byron. But before their trip can even begin, their ship is assailed by Barbary corsairs. The small band of travelers is forced to pay heavy ransoms to secure freedom.

Now penniless in a strange city, and with Lord Byron distracted by a romantic intrigue, Jane and Vincent are sans resources. A kind gentleman from their ship offers to help them in Murano, welcomes them to his estate and even finds a glassblower to aid them. But no sooner do Jane and Vincent begin their work, than they discover their benefactor is a fraud and a thief. The Vincents come up with a plan to recover what was stolen from them — a heist. — RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars

Mar 25

Kirkus reviews Kowal’s new Glamourist History fantasy

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Renowned glamourists Lord and Lady Vincent become the victims of an elaborate scam that leaves them in dire straits until they conceive of a daring strategy to strike back.

After an extended voyage with her family, Jane and Vincent are anxious to find some time to themselves, traveling to Murano. They have a letter of introduction from the prince regent and hope to work with an artisan to experiment on infusing glamour­magical illusions of sight, sound and light­into glass. On the way, they’re waylaid by pirates, then rescued by a fellow passenger who takes them under his wing in the city. Without papers or money and with Vincent suffering a concussion from the attack, they’re grateful for the gentleman’s help. Once they make progress on their revolutionary glamour process, however, they’re detained by the local police and accused of fraud. Realizing their “friend” is a con man who has disappeared with all their notes and finished work, Jane and Vincent are left broke, in debt and under suspicion: “They had no funds and no friends at all. The only resources they had were the clothes upon their backs, and even those they owed money for.” Unable to find employment, Vincent becomes dispirited, especially when he must depend on the meager salary Jane manages to secure from a nearby convent. Things look up when a chance sighting of one of the crooks enables Vincent and Jane to turn the tables on them: “[S]he could see his mind working and putting together pieces of a plan, as surely as if he was plotting a glamural.” Kowal continues her creative Regency-set Glamourist Histories series with a clever, captivating plot that culminates in a magical heist storyline. Before we get there, though, we are treated to a touching examination of a loving marriage under duress and the connections and collaborations these extraordinary partners must create and reaffirm with each other and those around them in order to thrive.

Combining history, magic and adventure, the book balances emotional depth with buoyant storytelling. — Kirkus Reviews

May 9

Locus Award nominations for 2013 are in!

Congratulations to clients in the following categories…

Fantasy Novel:
Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

First Novel:
Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13)

In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s 1/12)
The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)

Faster Gun”, Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com 8/12)
The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Rip-Off!)

Short Story:
The Deeps of the Sky”, Elizabeth Bear (Edge of Infinity)

Shoggoths in Bloom, Elizabeth Bear (Prime)

Full list of nominations here.

Apr 2

Congratulations to the 2013 Hugo Award nominees!

Over the Easter weekend, the 2013 ballot for the Hugo Awards was announced. The award ceremony will be hosted by LoneStarCon 3.

* Congratulations to Saladin Ahmed for Throne of the Crescent Moon in the novel category!

* Congratulations to Jay Lake for “The Stars Do Not Lie” (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012) in the novella category!

* Congratulations to Mary Robinette Kowal as part of the Writing Excuses team for Writing Excuses Season Seven in the Best Related Work category!

* Congratulations to Jason Heller as part of the editorial team for Clarkesworld in the Best Semiprozine category!

More details here. Congratulations to all the finalists.

Apr 1

PW review of new fantasy from Mary Robinette Kowal

Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

In Kowal’s charming third Austen-influenced magical Regency novel (after Glamour in Glass), spouses Lady Jane and Sir David Vincent, who create magical artwork called “glamour,” accept a commission in London that leads to political turmoil and romantic complications. Coldmongers, who can magically affect temperature, are being blamed for the volcano-caused wintery spring, coinciding with unrest from the antitechnology Luddites. The Vincents observe mysterious potentially treasonous interactions involving their client’s son, Irish Catholic Alastar O’Brien; the Luddites; and the Worshipful Company of Coldmongers. Matters are further complicated by Vincent’s strained relations with his family and Jane’s efforts to find a spouse for her younger sister, Melody, who accompanies them for the season. Readers will appreciate the realistically warm and loving romance between Jane and Vincent all the more for their flaws and foibles, as their relationship is tested by internal and external forces. –Publishers Weekly

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