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Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories #4)

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  961 ratings  ·  187 reviews
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 Vinc
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published April 29th 2014 by Tor Books
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Olga Godim
Big publishers (like Tor, who published this book) have an annoying custom to let their marketing departments dictate their titles. Sometimes it works, but other times, it doesn’t. It didn’t work for this novel. The title the marketers came up with – Valour and Vanity – is too generic, while the novel is not generic at all. Its distinct writer’s voice, original magical system, and unique protagonists can’t be mistaken or even compared to any other in the fantasy genre.
A fast and enjoyable read,
These books seem to be just perfect for my brain at the moment. I read this on the train, more or less in one gulp. You’ve got to love that one of the most important threads of the story is the love between Vincent and Jane, and how it gets them through everything, no matter what. And despite how far their acts of derring-do have come from their Austen-esque beginnings in Shades of Milk and Honey, the development is clear. This time, the trouble they get into grows out of everything before (rath ...more
"Jane Austen does Ocean's Eleven." Stop. Read no further. That is all you need to know about this book. If you have not read the first three Glamourist Histories books, go read them now just so you can read this book (you don't actually have to, but it makes for a richer experience, as with any series).

In Valour and Vanity, Jane and Vincent, professional glamourists, journey to Vienna to hang out with Lord Byron (LORD BYRON) and continue studying Glamour in Glass (the technique, not the book).
Full disclosure: Mary is a dear, dear friend of mine, in addition to writing books that are aimed DIRECTLY AT ME as a reader. I would have a very difficult time not enjoying this book.

Every book in this series pleases me more. Not just because this is a romance novel with a heist plot, WHICH IT IS. (She describes it as "if Jane Austen wrote Ocean's Eleven"). It reminds me very much of the TV show Leverage, but with glamour (magic in this world), pirates, Lord Byron, nuns, boat chases, and a stre
Nancy O'Toole
Valour and Vanity is the fourth book in Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist History series, which I can officially say has really become one of my favorite series. In this book, Jane and Vincent travel to Venice, only to be robbed by pirates on their way. Left destitute, Jane and Vincent must depend on the charity of others to survive an reclaim their status.

One of the things I really like about this series is the strength of its characters. Jane and Vincent are pretty much my favorite couple in f
3.75 stars

Jane and Vincent are traveling in Italy with her parents, Melody and Melody's new husband. The time has come to part. While the Ellsworths, Melody and her husband will go on exploring the Continent, Jane and Vincent are headed to Murano to continue their experiments with glamour in glass. Mrs. Ellsworth is terrified their ship will be set upon by pirates. Jane is sympathetic but Vincent knows there's no such thing as pirates in this part of the world. Imagine everyone's surprise when c
With each entry in the Glamourist series, Mary Robinette Kowal keeps getting better and better. We the reader can enjoy a large cast of wonderfully drawn characters, a deep look at Regency-era society, military intrigue, the most intricate of daily life details, magic and wonder -- and here, a lovely spin on the caper novel. Not to be missed.
My review of Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal's new fourth book in the Glamourist History series, is now up on the wonderful AustenProse website.

It begins:

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 prefe
The blurb speaks truth. All you need to know to determine whether or not this book is for you is "Jane Austen does Ocean's Eleven." It's every bit as delightful as those five words suggest! I would recommend reading the prior three books in the series first, because they're excellent, and they're full of more instances of AWESOME LADIES BEING AWESOME IN REGENCY PERIOD-APPROPRIATE WAYS.

I adore this series, and I adore Mary Robinette Kowal for giving us a courageous, intelligent, sympathetic, hero
Jessica Strider
Pros: gut-wrenching scenes, interesting situation, fun characters

Cons: they’re helped a surprising amount

Vincent and Jane head to Murano to try to make their verre obscurcie with a local glassmaker. But their ship is waylaid by pirates and things go downhill from there.

This is the fourth book of the Glamourist Histories, and is a great continuation. The couple fall upon bad circumstances and must work hard to regain their former standing. As with the other books there’s a personal mystery that
Favorite part on this book was Vincent’s and Jane’s relationship. With all the trials and tribulations thrown at them this volume, their strong love and support for each other stand out in stark relief. I love how it didn’t take the entire book to reach the point where both parties are confiding in each other and coming to workable solutions to their problems. Both are honest for most of the book, a refreshing change from other romantic relationships out there.

It was interesting to see a Venice
I continue to adore these books. That's all you really need to know, right?

Valour-and-VanityThis is the fourth book in the Glamourist Histories, in which Mary Robinette Kowal creates an alt version of the English Regency period and gives it 'glamour', a form of magic that is generally used to decorate the sitting rooms of the gentry but which can also (we discovered in the last book) be used to create cold, and which maybe just might have military uses as well. I think this book could stand by i
Despite the fact that I generally am not a fan of heist movies (and similar-type books), I think this was my favorite of the series so far.

The combination of a maturing relationship between Vincent and Jane, plus valor in the face of true adversity is what did it for me. Oh, and puppets! :D
Amanda Cook
Kowal has done it again. Each book in the Glamourist Histories is better than the last, partly because her magic system seems more developed with each story.

When I first heard this book described as "Jane Austen meets Ocean's Eleven...with magic," I thought "What?!?" But it's true! Somehow, Kowal has managed to mix a historically accurate setting (and one real-life character) with a fantastical plot and created pure magic. I found myself reading the twists (it's a heist story; there will be twi
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

The best part of this story, I think, is that the annoyingly stupid Emma-Jane from the last book is no more! Yay!

Also gone is most of the historical and political bits from the last book, which is a little less yay - which isn't to say the story's not still grounded in the alt-history, as the Venice portrayed is suffering post Bonaparte and heavily taxed, and this does play an important part of the story - but it's less involved than the last story.

Anyway -

As the blurb says, while previous bo
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Jane and Vincent have been accompanying Melody and her new husband on their wedding tour of the continent. Leaving the newlyweds with their parents, Jane and Vincent head to Murano. Lord Byron has given the Vincents an open invitation to visit him in Venice, which is a nice cover for what they what to do in Murano. They have long wanted to visit the famed glassmakers there after their discovery about weaving magic into glass to make it portable and not tethered to the earth. The couple hope that ...more
Disclaimer: I received a copy direct from the author, since I'm helping out with a beta read later in the series and this wasn't available in my country at the time. In fact I don't think it's out yet at all so no real detail, sorry.

This is fantastic. I've read books 2-4 in the series one after the other - I would say "like sweeties" but it's more like "amazing cake that you can't say no to and doesn't make you feel sick". Mary is doing a wonderful job of growing the characters of Jane and Vince
Tasha Turner
Was pretty good. I still enjoy the characters and the world. This book didn't work for me quite as much as previous books in the series but I can't put my finger on why. At one point I did wonder what the plot was... Possibly reading the book jacket and knowing it was a heist would have helped... I did enjoy how the couple works together or not as the case may be. Plenty of humor. As always great descriptions and the author always does her homework. Regency is one of my favorite time periods but ...more
Kola is extremely good at her craft. I can not praise her more highly. The Glamourist Histories have been one of the best finds I have known this last ten years. That we capture the regency in a style that is similar to Jane Austen, and that we meld in a magical system that makes sense to itself is a tremendous achievement. Here we travel to Venice to make glass without imperfections for the next phase of exploration with Glamour.

That all does not go smoothly and that there is an intricate plot
Danielle T
It was sitting in my library pile, so I couldn't resist moving on to this one after finishing Without a Summer. Our glamourists Jane & Vincent take a trip to Venice to visit the island of Murano and its glassmakers, pursuing the idea of copying down a glamour in glass (like weaves in the Wheel of Time, glamours must usually be woven by an individual and don't really have a form for muggles to use... until potentially now). They make it to their destination, but are left penniless and strande ...more
I highly recommend this book. I considered giving it four stars instead of five, but mostly because of a difference in expectation and somewhat because the subject matter was difficult for me. I opened the book, expecting a heist novel, but it didn't start out that way - or rather it did, but took a detour into surviving for a little while first. I love the backstory and rode the roller coaster with them through the emotional ups and downs during the first 2/3s of the story, but it was harder to ...more
How extraordinary! Our favorite Regency glamorists headed to Murano intercepted by Corsairs. or are they?

What a glorious romp through Italian streets. Puppeteers! Lord Byron! Swindlers with code names! Corrupt police officers! International intrigue! Nuns on the lookout! Doctor Who! Letters going astray! It's an absolute madhouse, but at the core is the deep relationship between Jane and Vincent and how they cope with increasingly strange circumstances.

I admit that parts of a great elaborate pl
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.
Once again, Kowal has shifted the type of novel she is writing with the fourth book in her award winning series. If the first was an Austen Regency Romance, the second Austen crossed with Bernard Cornwall and the third a more purely historical novel filled with politics and family, then this fourth novel was equal parts historical regency novel and Oceans 11.

Robbed and conned out of everything they own, Vincent and Jane find themselves confined to the island of Murano, with no friends and no res
A letdown from her previous efforts. Jane and Vincent are are still married, still together and still using glamour. This time, their adventures take them to Italy, Lord Byron (yes, THAT Lord Byron), and more mystery, intrigue and possibly scandal.

The book starts off with a bang as the ship Jane and Vincent travel on are boarded by...PIRATES! Oh no! Stripped of their possessions, there's not much they can do but travel on to Italy, where they hope to meet with Lord Byron and perhaps find their w
Mostly everything about this book, I enjoyed, with possibly the exception of the 'heist' element. Billing something as "like Ocean's Eleven" is an awfully tall order. The only author I would say has 100% achieved that premise thus far is Scott Lynch with his Gentleman Bastards series. In this particular book, the heist seems to be only a short portion of the story with the majority portion consisting of (view spoiler) ...more
This probably isn't a perfect book, five stars would mean it is, but I just loved this book so that is why I am giving it that. I like Mrs. Kowal's glamorist books a great deal. I love the way they are written, the stories, the plot, the characters and everything about them. They just make me happy and feel good. That being said I very much enjoyed this book in every way. It is hard to imagine a heist novel being written in the style of Jane Austin but she pulls it off with great skill and grace ...more
Kristin Taggart
(Description nicked from B&

“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 ro
Clare Fitzgerald
I started reading Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series pretty much just to get to the newest book, Valour and Vanity, which was advertised as The One Where They Get Kidnapped By Pirates. This is not entirely false advertising (or… well), but it does form the basis of my biggest critique of the book: NOT ENOUGH PIRATES. I thought it was going to be a pirates book! But I suppose that is on me.

What it is instead is a heist novel, which is pretty freakin’ awesome, and it is a heist nov
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 15, 2015 10:05AM  
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Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and her short story "For Want of a Nail" won the 2011 Hugo. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year's Best anthologies. She is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass (Tor 2012).

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CB
More about Mary Robinette Kowal...

Other Books in the Series

Glamourist Histories (5 books)
  • Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)
  • Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2)
  • Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories, #3)
  • Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)
Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1) Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2) Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories, #3) The Lady Astronaut of Mars Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)

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