Mary Robinette Kowal’s Without a Summer, the third of her Regency/Napoleonic-era-with-magic novels, is yet again a different sort of thing from the previous books in the series. The first was a countryside romance; the second was more military; and this one falls on the political side.

It takes place in London, among labor unrest (the original Luddites pop up prominently) and political turbulence, with plenty of attention to racial prejudices (particularly toward the not-yet-white Irish) and class divisions. Remarkably, Kowal doesn’t fall into the trap of making her protagonists into twentieth-century people transported back in time, either—there are points in the story when the main characters are every bit as narrow-minded and insular as you’d expect nobility to be at this time.

I don’t want to say too much, because: third book of a series, so hard not to spoil stuff. But I’m pleased with the way this series is going, and the way each book feels different from the ones before it. It speaks well to Kowal’s evolution as a writer, and my recommendation for this series gets stronger with each book. And now, on to book four.


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