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Point of Honour
Madeleine E. Robins
Tor Forge, 352 pages

Point of Honour
Madeleine E. Robins
Madeleine E. Robins was born in 1953 in New York City and still lives there. She went to Connecticut College, majoring in Theatre Studies. While on a trip to England, she learned that her book, Althea, was to be published as a Regency romance novel. She had a number of jobs before working in the production department at Tor Books. A few years later, she moved on to Acclaim Comics as editor of Armed and Dangerous, Magnus Robot Fighter, Shadowman and others. Since 1998, she has worked as a freelance writer and editor.

Madeleine E. Robins Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Stone War

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sherwood Smith

Marketed to appeal to a mainstream audience, this novel will also appeal to genre readers who like a well-researched historical feel -- the same readership, perhaps, that likes Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

From the very first pages, Madeleine E. Robins skillfully lets the reader know that this novel is not set quite in the Regency England we know (and has become such a cliché in the romance novel world); 'Prinny' is not the Regent for Mad King George, his wife Queen Charlotte is. And in this London, ladies can belong to clubs, where they can sit and read and drink tea, or meet and talk, or just sit and relax. Thus, those of us who read a lot in the period can disengage the custom and language filters that we can't help forming over the years. So she uses 'about' to mean 'concerning' and not 'physically bounding something' -- and 'bespoke' to mean 'observed' instead of 'ordered or requested'. In this parallel world, little variations like that are convincing, not distracting; meanwhile, the writing is tough, vivid, graceful, and blessedly free of unthinking Georgette Heyer idiom.

The story itself? Miss Sarah Tolerance is a fallen woman, who ran off with her fencing master. He died -- and she's back, but Society, of course, will not condone one widowed only by the heart. Instead of taking up prostitution, as had her aunt, who gives her a home, Sarah becomes an agent of inquiry, and has a modest business going when a young, supercilious lord comes to her with the prospect of a job, on behalf of someone else. The job is to recover a fan that a lady of ill repute was given by the mystery client's father... not, one would think, a job that would trigger off a series of murders -- and attacks on Miss Tolerance, who is quite adept with a sword, thank you. Highwaymen, whores, lords, spies, Bow Street Runners, mystery communications with the continent despite Napoleon's depredations, and scientific endeavor all draw our heroine's exacting eye. She takes a competent part in dashing battles, and even faces with admirable aplomb a meeting with the Prince of Wales in this wonderfully paced, wryly and well told tale. And oh yes, there is a very handsome earl... but I defy anyone to guess the ending. I was taken totally by surprise. And I think you will too. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2003 Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith is a writer by vocation and reader by avocation. Her webpage is at

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