cover image Valour and Vanity

Valour and Vanity

Mary Robinette Kowal. Tor, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3416-9

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. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Agency. (May)