Book Review: Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

Out of all the books that I own (some 1200) the Nightrunner series by by Lynn Flewelling is my all time favorite series. I have read the first novel, Luck in the Shadows, so many times that it is falling apart. Luck in the Shadows is the first book in what is currently a six book series. The plot is sound and moves well. The main characters are excellent as are the side characters. There is nothing to dislike about this novel.

Alec is a young, naive woodsman. He is good with a bow and he traps and kills animals for a living. He lives off nature–think French fur-trapper. He has just lost his father to illness, and for the first time in his life he is on his own. Unfortunately, one day he finds himself in the wrong woods at the wrong time. He is arrested and jailed for being a suspected spy. He is tortured and finds himself facing being sold to slavers. That is not a pretty future. Then a bard gets thrown into his jail cell, but this bard is not what he seems. This bard is actually a master of disguise, a thief, a rogue–so to speak. He is called a Nightrunner. He easily escapes his chains and releases Alec out of his. The “bard” springs them both from the dungeon and for some reason decides to take Alec with him to his next stop which is the city of Wolde. Seregil seems some potential in Alec to become a Rogue as well and he begins to train Alec in the ways of being a Nightrunner. In Wolde, Seregil and Alec burgle the Mayor’s house and steal a seemingly unimportant wooded disc causing them to be hunted by a pair of nasty characters, one of which is a necromancer (raiser of the dead). The disc itself has some kind of magic that nearly kills Seregil (who is wearing the disc around his neck). Because of the magic disc Seregil is hallucinating and is completely out of touch with the world. With Seregil out of it, and Alec a green woodsman, the boys are in trouble. Only knowing that he needs to get to the city of Rhiminee, Alec undertakes the long journey to Seregil’s home city to find the wizard Nysander who might be able to save Seregil’s life all while trying to keep Seregil alive. Can Alec and Seregil reach Rhiminee before Seregil dies? You will have to read the book to find out.

There are a couple of secondary plots in this book that meld well with the plot of establishing Seregil’s and Alec’s characters. There is also a background plot of a war brewing.

What I love about Flewelling’s novels are her characters even her secondary characters like Nysander and Thero (Nysander’s apprentice) are excellently done and 3-D. I absolutely love Seregil and Alec. Currently, I am re-reading the novels, and it feels like visiting old friends to me. I am so excited to watch the plot unfurl again. Seregil is an excellent rogue with a heart of gold. There is a lot of depth to his character and you watch him war with lots of internal issues throughout the series. Discovering his past bit by bit as Alec does is a fascinating journey throughout the series. Alec is a doll and such an innocent in the beginning. He is polite and conservative, everything Seregil is not. You will wonder how he will ever survive Seregil, but Alec bends rather easily and becomes used to his new life. He grows a tremendous amount in this novel. There is continuous character development for all the characters (main and side characters alike) throughout the series. Everyone is dynamic and changes to reflect what has happened to the character and what the character has learned. It is definitely a tie for me between Seregil, Alec, and Vanyel (from the Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey) who is my favorite book character of all time. All of Flewelling’s characters are engaging and believable. She gets you invested in these characters. You want them to succeed and you will feel it when they are hurting (either physically or emotionally).

Flewelling writes an engaging book with spectacular characters and a solid plot. Her world is complete with histories and religions for each of the countries. You may feel overwhelmed with information sometimes but the important things are repeated to Alec who is learning all of it with you so it is not so bad. I like her writing style. Her style is a lot more involved than some other writers and she will pull you in and captivate you.I loose a day per book when I re-read this series. It is still that captivating to me after having read the series three or four times.

Luck in the Shadows is one of my favorite books. If I could only keep 10 books out of the 1200 I own, the first three books of the Night runner series would make the cut. If you like a good fantasy novel then you will love this series like I do. It is a fantastic read, give it a chance.