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Of Noble Family    by Mary Robinette Kowal order for
Of Noble Family
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Of Noble Family follows Valour and Vanity as the fifth in Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories. In this imagined Austen-era world, the magical art of illusion is valued just as much as good looks, or artistic or musical ability.

The first book brought together plain but talented Jane Ellsworth and brooding David Vincent, an acclaimed illusionist. Now married, they work glamours in an effective partnership. In the second book, they aided the war effort against Napoleon in Belgium. In the third, they and Jane's sister Melody were implicated in a coldmongers' revolt. Melody wed Alastar Stratton and was soon pregnant. And Valour and Vanity took our glamourist duo to Venice, where they dealt with an elaborate scam.

Now, as Of Noble Family opens, David receives news of his hated father's and eldest brother's deaths, along with an appeal from his middle brother (now the Earl) to visit Antigua and set the family's West Indian estate in order. Naturally, Jane accompanies him. They arrive to find the estate mismanaged and the slaves (many of whom are related to David) brutally treated. When they try to rectify matters, another shock awaits them. And Jane's discovery of a yearned for pregnancy forces them to stay in an increasingly untenable situation.

But the slaves have their own secrets - including insights on glamour that fascinate Jane. There is great danger in Antigua for the Vincents, but also invaluable knowledge to be acquired and many wrongs to be made right. Of Noble Family is another exciting episode in the Glamourist Histories. And don't miss the author's Note on History at the back of the book that compares slave systems in the Southern United States and the Caribbean.

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