Kathryn's Reviews > Luck in the Shadows

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling
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's review
Mar 24, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy

One thing I want to say before I launch into a summary/review: the main characters are not gay; they're bisexual. Both of them express interest in and have relationships with women. It's a silly thing to get nitpicky about, but I do. On with business.

Alec is a young man, just turned sixteen and recently orphaned, who earns a living trapping and trading furs. He's lived his entire life in the wilderness, learning how to survive and navigate seemingly featureless plains and endless forests. His solitary existence is disrupted when he is arrested by the local lord accused of being a spy. Alec is thrown into the dungeon, where he is tortured for several days. Then the guards bring a new prisoner and throw him in with Alec. Before Alec knows it, he and the strange man have escaped the dungeon and are camped in the woods outside the castle. The man introduces himself as Seregil, a wandering bard who, like Alec, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Seregil needs to get to Wolde, a large trading-center, in three days, but the only way to get there in time is to take a shortcut that only Alec knows, so Seregil hires Alec as his guide, and the pair make their way to Wolde.

Along the way, Seregil confesses to Alec that he actually is the spy the lord was looking for, and offers Alec a partnership of sorts. Alec is hesitant, but Seregil convinces him with tales of magic, dragons, adventures and riches. When they reach the city they meet up with Seregil's partner, Micum. The trio heads south for Skala, which is one of the Three Lands (Plenimar and Mycena are the other two), but soon after Micum leaves the party to investigate some suspicious activity back in the North, and Alec and Seregil continue on. It seems there's about to be yet another war between Skala and Plenimar, and Plenimar is seeking allies in the North, which is why Seregil and Micum, agents of the Skalan government, were up there.

The two have lots of adventures, and kick lots of butt, and all the other usual things that happen in fantasy/action-adventure novels.

The review:

It has a standard Medieval Europe-type setting, complete with wizards, elves (she can call them whatever she wants, they're ELVES, okay, only without pointy ears), and various other mythical creatures. When I first read it, I had a very lukewarm response to it. It was definately an "okay" book in my opinion. The beginning just didn't grab me. Also, being first in a series (and the first novel Lynn wrote), there is a lot of exposition and world building, which I wanted to skim but didn't since I needed to know this stuff. Most of it is in dialogue form, with Alec acting as our conduit, while Seregil explains the customs and history of the Three Lands. It got tedious, and I found some of the passages just a tad awkward.

But the characters...especially Seregil...just grabbed hold of my heartstrings and made me care about them. And the dialogue--Lord, Seregil has a wit that could shred the wind! I love his irreverent sense of humor, too. And the chemistry between him and Micum just works; I can't think of any other way to put it. After I read the sequels, and then reread this one, I found myself falling in love with it.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Shannon (Giraffe Days) I totally agree with you about the characters. I really admire Flewelling's writing, and maybe because I wasn't expecting anything from these books (I think it must have been the covers), but I absolutely loved them! It'd be nice if they re-released them with new covers eh? Especially before I finally get around to buying them!

I also love "static" fantasy - fantasy that doesn't have a quest, but the characters are so interesting and well-drawn and -written that you don't need any bogus action - I loved watching Alec train to be a thief, for example. Done well, it's the best kind of fantasy :)

I always found the relationship between Seregil and Alec unutterably sweet, that I so wanted them to, you know, be a proper couple ;)

Kathryn I know what you mean; I had already been told by the person who recommended it that they become lovers, so I could see instantly where it was going. I like that she took her time hooking them up, it was much more believable than if there had "been something about him" and they'd had instant chemistry/attraction. That would have had me rolling my eyes and probably never reading it again.

And I love the scene where Alec is doing his first burglary job, and Seregil says, "Honestly, Alec! You can't go hacking your way out of every difficult situation that arises; it's uncivilized." That just sticks with me, I love it! And then he forgets to tell him about the dogs!

message 3: by Sala Bim (new) - added it

Sala Bim I just wanted to applaud a little and say thank you for making the distinction about the characters being bisexual, not gay. I don't think it's silly or nitpicky and it's a really important arch aspect to some of us readers. I think more people should just make that distinction up-front and get it over with. You clearly get that, so thanks again!

Bloody Ben It's true that the characters are bi, not gay, but after they end up together, they never look at anyone else, do they are mostly perceived as together and nobody thinks about who they slept with before(for the most part). But yeah, I agree.

message 5: by Sala Bim (new) - added it

Sala Bim In this context, it doesn’t actually matter who they were or weren’t sleeping with after they got together. If they were into males and females, and had relationships with them (whether before or after they were together), and it was discussed within the literature, then there is still a bisexual element to the story. And, as was my original point, that is a distinction that some people like to be made aware of, because it is not everybody’s cup of tea.

message 6: by Philip (new)

Philip Church As far as I can tell the author makes a distinction between sexual acts and sexual identity. I would characterize Alec and Seregil as in a gay relationship. Once they are together they do not have sex outside of their relationship, greatly love each other and stay committed in a deep and meaningful way. Their sexual behavior, especially Seregil's prior to and in the beginning is somewhat more varied and many people do many different sexual acts with different people until they find out or accept who they are. There are genuinely bisexual people but I would not characterize either main character as bisexual There are many lesbians who had husbands and children, especially if they are older and come from the more traditional American cultural values that were prevalent in the 50's and 60's. Alec comes from a very traditional and rigid religion and Seregil is a hedonist and an opportunist who freely admits that sexuality was for HIS pleasure, benefit and his status and there are no real deep attachments in it. Alec and Seregil had friendships with some they had relationships with for sure but not relationships.

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