‘Luck In The Shadows’ is book one in the seven book series called ‘The Night Runner’ series by Lynn Flewelling. It is set in the same world but a different time period to her other series, ‘The Tamir Triad’. I’ve read both these series before and there are some crossover characters and historical details which I enjoyed reading.
In this book, we follow two main characters, Alec and Seregil. At the beginning of the book, Alec is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and facing some severe torture which he can hear being performed on other prisoners. Luckily, the next person thrown into the cell is Seregil, who happens to be a bit of master of all trades, those being spying, general theft, oh, and he’s a bit of a rogue and ladies man as well. The two bump into each other accidentally but Seregil decides to rescue Alec and, after using him in order to make it to the forest, he takes him on his apprentice. Alec does not know what he has let himself in for and accepts the offer and the two get swept into various intrigues some of which come close to costing their lives.
This is a very traditional swords and sorcery type fantasy book with the added interest of bisexual characters. It is set in the usual faux medieval world containing lots of horse riding, sword-fighting, wizards and other magical creatures. I have to admit that, although the world is comforting, it is nothing new. Flewelling does rely on the old trope of world-building by having a naive character with little world knowledge having everything explained to them and thereby explained to the reader.
Having said that, the world-building is not that exciting, I do have to admit that I enjoyed finding out about the religious aspects of the world and how the gods are different in the different areas of the world. There were lots of elements to do with etiquette that Alec as a new spy had to learn before it would be safe for him to appear to different people, some of which he really did not enjoy but I enjoyed reading about!
Luckily, Flewelling more than makes up for this in her characters, she is one of the best writers in terms of creating fully formed and interesting characters that you just want to keep following. Seregil is meant to be the hero of the book but he has so many flaws and makes so many errors, no sword-fight seems to go quite his way and he is often being rescued by Alec or another character. Talking of sword-fighting, Seregil really dislikes having to take part, he would much rather slide into the shadows which again is not a typical hero activity.
This is a re-read for me and I have to say I rarely do this as there are too many books out there and so little time to read them all. However, I’m really glad I did this as I enjoyed this book just as much the second time around even knowing where the story was heading. I didn’t find it too boring, although occasionally there is a large amount of world-building in the form of storytelling which can get a bit tedious. I loved seeing all my old favourite characters and also seeing where this series links in to the previous one by Flewelling that I’ve read. I would suggest you read ‘The Tamir Triad’ before reading this series as there are events that happen there that are referenced as history in ‘The Night Runner’ series.
Overall, this is not ground-breaking or a heavy story in any way, but I do find it interesting and intriguing. It is a book that I would recommend as a comfort read for a fantasy reader, something were nothing too traumatic happens but there is an interesting plot.
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(pub: Bantam Spectra. 478 page paperback. Price: $ 7.50 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISBN: 0-553-57542-2)