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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Of Noble Family

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories #5)
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Historical Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

The final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency...

Jane and Vincent have finally gotten some much-needed rest after their adventures in Italy when Vincent receives word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies. His brother, who manages the estate, is overwhelmed, and no one else in his family can go. Grudgingly, out of filial duty the couple decide to go.

The sea voyage is long and Jane spends enough time unable to perform glamour that towards the end of the trip she discovers that she is with child. They are overjoyed, but when they finally arrive at the estate to complete what they expect to be routine legal tasks, they realize that nearly everything they came expecting to find had been a lie. Also, the entire estate is in disarray, with horrifying conditions and tensions with the local slave population so high that they are close to revolt.

Jane and Vincent's sense of peril is screaming out for them to flee, but Vincent cannot stand to leave an estate connected with his family in such a condition. They have survived many grand and terrifying adventures in their time, but this one will test their skills and wits more than any they have ever encountered before, this time with a new life hanging in the balance.


It's interesting to me how this series keeps getting a little darker and a little more involved with issues of social justice.  This series is just so different from where it started. With the previous novel "Valour and Vanity", I thought it couldn't get sadder, or more heart-rending or plumb the characters of Jane and Vincent deeper.  I was wrong.  This is the last book in the Glamourist Histories series, and it brought more depth and closure to Jane and Vincent and brings their story to a completely fulfilling conclusion.

The main plot of this story deals with a surprise twist that occurs very early on in the book.  Which I can't really explore in my review because I don't want to spoil it for everyone.  But it is wonderful that the reader finds out more about Vincent, his past, and his family in this book, and just how much that has affected him.  Vincent has always been a closed off character in the series, but in this book we see and understand him so much more.  His portrayal throughout this series has been very realistic, and that has just been made more apparent to me in this book.  Because there's still so many layers to him, and it's revealed further.

Another reason I adored this book was the love between the Vincents just felt more real, and achingly honest.  They love each other so much, it's ridiculous.  I'm totally jealous. And it made me ache all the more with them as they went through all the trials and injustices this story presents.

The social injustice Jane and Vincent face in this novel is slavery and it's approached perfectly in this novel.  Our main characters are compassionate and do not condone the practice at all, but the story is realistic about the change they could effect for the time, and I felt all the frustration that they felt in seeing such an atrocity.  There's a particular new character in this book, who is the example for all the worst prejudices and greed that made it so hard to eradicate slavery, and it was satisfying to have him dealt with in the end.  This whole novel was a gradual building of frustration and suspense with how impotent the Vincents were in the situation, but fortunately (as is the case for all the novels in the series so far) the author manages to craft the perfect resolution that is both satisfying and true to the time.  I'm especially in awe of just how cleverly it was done in this book because there is such a full circle satisfaction to the conclusion.

I'm sad that the series is over, but I loved reading every installment, and it's wondrous how the author brought two such wonderful characters to vivid and varied life.  This is a gorgeous ending to a glorious series!

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