Review: Luck in the Shadows – Lynn Flewelling

Book review: Luck in the Shadows by Lynn FlewellingI absolutely adore this book!!

Luck in the Shadows, the first book in Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, follows the delicious adventure-fantasy tradition of near-constant peril, swashbuckling combat and insidious dark magic.

I haven’t read this sort of immersive serial fantasy since I was a teenager, and I had almost forgotten the joy that comes with opening a new book and seeing the map of its world lovingly laid out and labelled in the prelims. It is immediately evident that the author has put a lot of thought into the dynamics of their universe and it’s so darn immersive! Not since the days when I would spend hours searching out and devouring every Tamora Pierce book in every library in Newcastle have I fallen so hard for a series, or so fast.

The book opens with one of our main characters, Alec of Kerry – a simple, recently orphaned country lad – imprisoned for seemingly no reason and on the verge of giving up all hope. Enter Seregil: spy, rogue, thief and noble (‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’? Not quite – Seregil is far nicer and a tad less cocky).

Before long Alec is swept up on an adventure that would take him to parts of the world he had only heard of in legends – and put his mentor’s life in immediate jeopardy. Can Alec get by on his wits and bring Seregil to Rhíminee, the only place where he might be saved? And what secrets will be uncovered there?

This is only the start of Alec and Seregil’s journey into uncovering a conspiracy that holds repercussions far deadlier than anyone could have imagined. 

Hunched in his alcove much later that night, Alec heard Seregil stir.

x

“Alec, you awake?”

x

“Yes.”

x

A long pause followed, then, “I’m sorry.”

x

“I know.” Alec had been thinking and already had the beginnings of a plan. “Micum said you know a wizard at Rhíminee. Do you think he could help you?”

x

“If he can’t, then I don’t know who can.” There was another pause. Alec heard something like a dark chuckle, and the sound raised the hair on the back of his neck.

x

“Alec?”

x

“Yes?”

x

“Be careful, will you? Tonight, for just an instant–”

x

Alec tightened his grip on the sword lying across his knees. “It’s all right, now. Go back to sleep.”

Luck in the Shadows became an instant favourite with me and I ordered the sequel, Stalking Darkness, the second I had finished it. The writing is engaging even when it is explaining the world’s extensive history/mythology, which in other books can feel a bit dry or longwinded, and the characters are fantastic – in some cases literally, since there are wizards and centaurs in the story.

It is clear that the two central characters, Alec and Seregil, will get together at some point in the series, but their relationship is developed so gradually and honestly that it adds an extra facet to every part of the story rather than dominating it. It makes times of peril especially poignant because you can see the characters realising more and more what they mean to one another, and what it would mean for one of them to lose the other, and this in turn makes you more anxious for their safety. Outside of perilous incidents, Alec and Seregil’s repartee is amusing and sweet, often with a flirtatious undertone (expect to squeal more than once at how absolutely adorable these two are!).

Beyond loveable characters and good prose, the storyline is also super immersive and expands in scale (I’m fully expecting it to reach epic proportions) as the narrative goes on. There was even a part of the book that I found very uncanny in a brilliantly chilling way, but I can’t tell you more than that…

In fact, I’m not sure what else I can say without spoiling it for you so I’ll finish with this: Illiore’s fingers, if you’re a fan of fantasy, order this book!!

I bought Luck in the Shadows after hearing a lot of good things about it online. The book is the first of Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, published by Bantam Books, ISBN: 0553575422.

Go to this book on Goodreads!