Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review 2012 #1 - Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour in Glass

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
Published by: Tor
Publication Date: April 10th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Jane and Vincent have become quite the powerful couple. Working side by side they have elevated Vincent's art, their art, to a new level. Even if the newspapers don't really give Jane any credit. He is the toast of London, the Prince Regent throwing a dinner in honor of the magnificent grotto they have created for his New Years festivities. Yet part of Jane is sad. Being a woman, she is viewed as women of the time are, not as the equal her husband does. She is easily pushed aside after dinner when the men sit and talk and the women retire. Jane has no desire to retire! She wants to be next to Vincent discussing magic and politics and all the things that matter in the world, not shut up in some parlor till the men deign to come to them!

Soon though Vincent receives an invitation from his mentor, M. Chastain, to visit him in Belgium and to look over the school he has created. Vincent and Jane treat this as the honeymoon they never really had time for. To be surrounded by others able to work their craft and to perhaps learn more than she was able to teach herself is a dream come true to Jane. Though the journey there is no without peril. Troops are rallying for Napoleon, it is rumored that he shall escape Alba and make an attempt on reclaiming his throne.

Soon Jane and Vincent stumble upon and idea that would take his Sphere Obscurcie, which makes a person invisible, if in a fixed location, and make it portable, with glass. This discovery could mean defeat or victory at the hands of the French. A discovery the French and the newly escaped Napoleon would gladly kill for. Though a hitch has been thrown into Jane's world. She has discovered she has a condition that will not allow her to work glamours. Will Vincent still love her if they are no loner able to work side by side and she where to become a more traditional wife? As she quickly sees, Vincent is already keeping secrets from her and not confiding as much as he used to, now that she is no longer with him at all times. Yet, when Vincent is threatened, Jane might be the only one able to save him.

I adored this book. I was bereft when it ended. Never in a very very long time it seems have I been so enamoured of the world a book has created. The first book I quite enjoyed, it was quite enjoyable, but it didn't prepare me for the awesomeness of the second. I here refer to the original origin of awesome, like one million hot dogs as Eddie Izzard would say. The mix of magic and the Regency world was what captured me initially. Yet here, Mary Robinette Kowal has taken it further. She has added in a level of French history that I am always drawn to, ie, the despotic wacko, Napoleon. How could you not love magic and deceit and Napoleonic spies? Napoleon and his hundred days, sigh. It is literally in my blood to be drawn to his time period. My great great great however many greats need to be there, grandfather was a high muckety-muck for Napoleon, François Joseph Lefebvre, the Duc de Danzig. Family legend always had it that he had actually abandoned Napoleon during the hundred days, turns out, that wasn't quite the case... but, well, would you like to say you rallied to him? At least his portrait is still at Versailles...

Back to the book. Not only is there this wonderful and believable magic system that Mary Robinette Kowal has created, but Jane is so perfect. She is not of her time. Vincent sees this and loves this in her. They are a modern couple who defy the expectations and mores of the time they live in. The deepness of their love is so romantic, but what's more romantic? The fact that Jane is clever, smart, and, in the end, not a damsel in distress, but the one who saves the day and her husband. If more books would just have kick ass females that where modelled on Jane. Clever, analytical and above all, successful in their endeavours. By not falling prey to stereotypical tropes, by magnificent world building and by creating a couple that truly love each other and depend on each other, Mary Robinette Kowal's series is quickly becoming not just a wonderful and unique series, but an author to watch and to wait for with baited breath.


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