melita66: (ship)
Or is that Robinette Kowal? Without a Summer is the third book in her alternative Regency series about Jane Vincent nee Ellsworth. In the first book, Jane was the oldest daughter and just about on the shelf. Her younger sister, Melody, is much more beautiful, although has no real accomplishments for a young woman. Jane is a talented glamourist and becomes involved with a young man, David Vincent, another glamourist. In this book, they have taken on a new commission in London after recovering from their spy work on the continent in the previous book. Jane's still seeing spies everywhere and begins to suspect that their patrons' son is not all he seems. Meanwhile, Vincent's father shows up, making nice, and upsetting Vincent terribly. His father had him beaten as a child to try to get him to stop working with glamour.

Ah, glamour is this world's magic, and is handled much like sewing and other needlecrafts are done. Robinette Kowal keeps the power levels under control in this series, which makes a nice change. Work too much glamour and you can overheat and die, if you're pregnant, you'll abort and coldmongers, who are the opposite of glamourists, usually die young and suffer from chilblains and other maladies.

The continental war is over so there are many unemployed. Automatic looms are being built so the weavers are being put out of business, and the connected Luddites have been rioting in the north of England. The weather is also unseasonably cold (turns out due to a volcano) which is putting everyone on edge as the crops may fail. Jane and David must navigate through all these issues through the aforementioned patron's son, Mr. O'Brien, and Irishman, and Catholic to boot.

She touches on unemployment, politics, prejudice and more in this book. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next book (which she's working on).
melita66: (maiko)
I was able to zip through Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamour in Glass pretty quickly. It's the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey. The first book was often referred to as Jane Austen with magic. Some simple magic can be done, but it's often considered a woman's art and is taught to high-born women as part of their skills (like painting or music). There are men practicing as well, and they seem to be the ones who get the commissions and publish the books, and come up with new techniques. The main character, Jane, is now happily married to "David Vincent", who is really Vincent-son-of-an-earl Hamilton (?) who gave up claim to the name to pursue his talent in glamour. While on a honeymoon trip to the continent, they become embroiled in Napoleon's escape from Elba.

I liked this book pretty well. The first book got rave reviews, which I thought were a bit too much. I thought it was a good book, but not fantastic. I think I liked this one better because it's moved on from the standard regency/romance tropes. The focus on Vincent and Jane's marriage and work is welcome. There's also discussion of new glamour techniques. The development of those were some of the most interesting parts of the book to me.

On its way: Flora's Fury!! Yea!

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November 2016

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