Note: This is a review of multiple books. I won’t put the synopsis up, because it would take up too much space. Therefore, you can click on the pictures of the books to go to their goodreads pages, or these links to check them out on Amazon.
Luck in the Shadows
I’ve been having some sort of an issue recently regarding my place in the genre. I think it’s been because I’m so incredibly busy, and finding time for my obligations is hard, and the current genre drama has been stressful. I don’t really feel like the community is a place I can turn to just love something anymore. I kind of feel like I’ve lost a friend.
I was looking through the library audiobooks, and ran across some books that I fell in love with years ago. These are books that were some of the first ones I read when I started reading in the genre. These are some of the books that kept me reading in the genre. I decided to give them another shot. I needed something to remind myself about why I loved the genre so much over all these years, and re-reading (or listening to) books that brought me some nostalgia felt right.
The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling was one of the first fantasy series my brothers shoved at me. Currently it is seven books long (and I think, if I remember right, the author is going to wind it up soon). When I read this series, I read it as a trilogy, and I still haven’t moved past the third book. I should, and I keep telling myself that I will, but for some reason I never do.
When you compare these books with what is currently out there today, there really isn’t much here that is completely unique and eye catching. There are wizards that live long lives, recite incantations, and have long pointy beards. There are elves and half elves, an orphan boy who finds himself as one of the most important people in Skala, who learns to work alongside Seregil who is a thief/spy.
The plot kind of unravels the way you’d expect it to in just about each book, but despite all of that, I absolutely love this series. I can’t get enough of it. I have read it probably ten times, and I just finished listening to the first three in audiobook. These were some of the books that got me into the genre. The thing that gets me every time I read these books is the relationships that Flewelling builds, and the enthusiasm and passion she has with what she writes.
And that’s really what attracts me to the genre in general – it has so much heart and enthusiasm, and Flewelling served to remind me of that. In fact, she’s one powerful voice in a genre full of powerful voices. This series is a lot of fun, and a nice, light escape. Alec and Seregil are characters that you can’t help but absolutely love, despite the fact that the books they are in are a bit predictable, and some of the ideas have been done before.
There are some holes. For example, the big bad superpower of Plenimar is a bit too big and bad to be believed. I never really understood their governing power, but the necromancy was interesting, if a bit cookie-cutter. As for the Skala side of things, the world is much more fleshed out there, and there’s a lot of mythology (some of which Flewelling explores in another of her trilogies that I absolutely love), but I never really felt like her magic system made any real, deep sense. It never really goes beyond muttering incantations and making it so.
However, in the context of the books, I really didn’t mind either of these points that much. These are books I read to escape, to feel real passion, and remind myself how wonderful a simple adventure story with gripping characters can be, but it is worth noting.
The series starts with Alec’s journey, finding himself and his potential after the heartbreak of losing his father. Soon he becomes embroiled in something quite larger. One thing leads to another, and the second book is directly related to events that start rolling in the first book. I should note, that the ending of Stalking Darkness, the second book, is absolutely heart wrenching and really shows Flewelling’s skill for packing her books full of emotional gut-punches.
Traitor’s Moon, the third book, is probably the book I struggle most with. It takes place two years after the previous books, and after much emotional healing that had to be done by both Alec and Seregil. Seregil is called back to the country he has been exiled from. It’s a lot of politics, and a lot of divulging Seregil’s rather tortured past while he navigates through present conspiracies and difficulties. I’m not exactly sure why this book didn’t work for me quite as well as the other two, but it didn’t. I felt a bit distanced from the work as a whole.
In the end, this isn’t a series you’ll want to read if you want to re-evaluate how you look at life. However, it is the kind of book you want to read if you’re looking for something with a bit of heart, a lot of zeal, and some real enthusiasm and great adventure. The books are pretty short, and easy to breeze through. What they do best, however, is showcase Flewelling’s skill with emotion, relationships, and her passion for what she’s writing.
It’s good to revisit old loves, and rekindle that flame which, on occasion, does sputter a bit. It’s something I highly recommend. It’s like getting back to your roots. It feels good, and it’s refreshing. This is a series I’d recommend to anyone. It was instrumental in kindling my love of the genre. If you’re looking for something fun, and a bit of an adventure/escape, this is perfect for you.
I also read this series when I was first getting into the genre, and like you, I have never read past the third book. A friend of mine gave me a copy of Luck in the Shadows when it came out, and insisted that this was a series everyone should be reading. I’m glad I took her up on it! I’ve reread this series once or twice over the years, but it’s been at least 10 years since I last went back to it. I did read Flewelling’s “Tamir Triad” series when it was released, and I remember enjoying those books as well.
In any event, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the books! It brought back a lot of good memories. I may need to carve out some time to reread some of these in the not too distant future.