Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

Luck in the Shadows is the first in the Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling. It opens with Alec of Kerry being freed from prison by his cellmate Seregil of Rhiminee. Seregil is not who he appears to be, and not who he pretends to be either. But he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice and Alec agrees despite not perhaps knowing exactly what he's letting himself in for. Before long the two of them are up to their necks in trouble, plots and betrayal and this is only the beginning.

It's not often I read more traditional fantasy, I guess I'm stuck in something of an urban rut, but I really loved Luck in the Shadows. One of my favourite things is when you open a book and rather than reading a story it feels like your catching up with friends.

So basically the kingdom is in peril from an unknown threat, but does the danger come from within or without. In a world of secrets, spies, liars, forgers and thieves, how do you know who's telling the truth.

This is very much the first book in a series, plans are set in motion, mysteries are discovered but it quickly becomes apparent that this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is more than one plot and more than one player. I love that the intelligence of the reader isn't insulted, not everything is spelled out, there are mysteries that are obviously going to unfurl over the course of the series. I admit to not always being 100% sure of what's going on - but that's what re-reads are for. :) I also think it accurately reflects the state the characters find themselves in.

Alec is only 16 and something of an innocent (though not for long in Seregil's company) and he acts as a 'window' for the reader into the world of Skala, Mycena and Auren. He's very enthusiastic about the Fae and excited about the possibility of seeing dragons and centaurs. As Nysander says of him :-
" is always refreshing to meet someone as ingenuous as yourself. So many who come here expect revelations of mythic proportions - ...They have no awe left in them for the little marvels. All their wonder has turned to appetite."
Seregil is more of an enigma, it seems every thing we learn about him opens up more questions. He has some magical ability but not enough to be a wizard. He's a thief and a quick thinker. And sometimes he's a little obtuse when it comes to other people's feelings. Seregil doesn't always understand why Alec is upset with him and Alec can't always explain. The two of them end up getting frustrated, very realistic behaviour in a developing friendship. But eventually they come to an understanding.
"There'll be times I choose not to tell you something, but I won't lie to you. That's a promise and there's my hand on it."
One of my favourite parts of the book is the intrinsic nature spell that Nysander casts on Alec and Seregil revealing their inner animal spirit. In fact I think all the transformation spells were little highlights in the story - especially the owl and the brick. :)

At the end of the story I'm left wanting to know what's going to happen next - be warned there's something of a disturbing cliffhanger. But I think wanting the story to continue is one of the best feelings you can have about a book. :)

* - I don't think this has been one of my best reviews. But I found it a very hard book to review, it's something of a minefield, there's so much I don't want to give away. I'd love to share and gush but perhaps the best thing to say is that if you like fantasy and haven't read The Nightrunner series yet, maybe you should give it a try.


Nicole said...

Might not be "one of your best reviews," but it still soudns like a fun read. Thanks for the rec!

Kris said...

I read this series years and years ago. I really need to reread them. Thanks for the reminder, Lesley. :)

Renee said...

Oh, I love this series!

And, yes, Seregil's animal, especially, fits him so well, I think.

You're right. The series just continues to get better as the world and Seregil & Alec's relationship grows in depth and complexity--and the reader's understanding grows, too. You've got lots of great reading ahead of you, Lesley! :-)

LesleyW said...

Nicole - Hope you like it if you read it. :)

Kris - you're welcome. :)

Renee - looking forward to the rest of the books.