Valour and Vanity

Valour and Vanity - Mary Robinette Kowal 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 resources. Without even a place to sleep they first have to see to their immediate needs, and then they need to fight back.

What follows then is the best heist story i've read since the Lies of Locke Lamora. The scheme is clever, fun and involves a group of nuns, a puppeteer and a particularly roguish English poet.

It's difficult to discuss the plot at all without giving away details and the true fun of this novel is the twists, the revelations, and the way the heist plan comes together in unexpected ways. We'll just leave off by saying if you enjoyed the previous three books (and if you didn't, why would you be looking to read the fourth?) you wont be disappointed by the latest installment.