Marc reviews the audio version of Lynn Flewelling’s ‘Luck in the Shadows’ (Nightrunner Book 1) (The book was re-published on November 3rd 2010 by Spectra and is 497 pgs long. The audiobook version was released on May 26th, 2004 by Blackstone Audiobooks and is narrated by Raymond Todd, it is 17 hrs and 52 minutes long.
Why I read this book: This was one of the very first books with LGBT characters I ever read. I discovered there were books with LGBT content (M/M, gay fiction and fiction with gay characters) and looked at the lists Google referred me to. Being a big Fantasy fan, I eventually stumbled upon the Best Fantasy Books with Gay Main Characters list on Goodreads and it was impossible for me not to give this book a try, especially when I realized there were audio versions of the book.
I will post reviews of all the books in this series during this week, so keep on the lookout for them. Please also check out my interview with the author HERE! 😉
CLICK ON THE COVER TO BUY THE BOOK ON AUDIBLE OR AMAZON 🙂
When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.
Buy Book One of the Nightrunner series:
I think the cover is absolutely brilliant. At a time where many covers of the books I read show a person, who does not even resemble the main character and have nothing to do with the plot, it is refreshing to see a cover that takes the reader directly into a scene. Much from the book and character can be gleamed in this sneak peek into the action. The nightrunning (breaking in/ spying), the danger and a look at the main protagonist. In addition, the point of view of the cover art is very interesting (looking from above) and might be and might be the POV of the second main protagonist (giving the reader the feeling t be right in the scene) 😉
Saying ‘Luck in the Shadows’ in the books is similar to saying ‘break a leg’ before a performance in our world. It is a ritual for luck, something that feels safe, before great dangers must be faced during nightrunning. When I started this book, it hinted at the dangers the characters had to face, now after all 7 books in the series, reading that title just makes me smile in remembrance. It is such a big part of the characters’ world and the universe the author created that this title and the series are forever interlocked.
Fair warning: The narrator changes in the middle of the series. However, after a short readjustment period, I can say that I like both. However, this first narrator in the series is much more skilled in making both main protagonists separate characters in the narration. I love that it never felt rushed and pulls the ‘reader’ right into things. A wonderful audiobook that will give lasting listening pleasure for many hours and is absolutely more than worth the price.
First, it should be noted that this is a non-explicit fantasy with two leading male protagonists, who fall for each other (and get together at the end of book 2, so a certain amount of patience is needed if their romantic relationship is one of the main drawing points for you 😛 ). Personally, I loved that this is a mainstream fantasy series with gay characters. It’s the story of two men who meet and are drawn to each other. They are different things to each other. Teacher and student, ‘father’ and ‘son’, friends and yes, lovers. While the label ‘gay’ doesn’t quite fit either of them, it really doesn’t have to. They are both capable of falling in love with another man and that is part of them, but doesn’t not define them and does not define the series either. The love and trust that will develop between these characters is a big draw for me. It adds a lot to the books and made me feel included as gay man, after reading so many otherwise great fantasy novels, where homosexuality was never even mentioned, seemed to not exist.
The world that Lynn Flewelling created is incredible rich with well-crafted, three-dimensional characters with flaws and charm and a plot that has many twists and turns and stays interesting until the last page is turned or the last word spoken. It has often been said that the book is slow-burning, but I personally can’t quite agree. The romance might be slow-burning as there is none until book two ends, but I devoured the audiobooks that were available when I began to listen to the series back-to-back and I never wanted to leave the characters behind. There is fast-paced action, political intrigue, magic, a completely new world that always offers something new to readers but stays within the logical framework the author set up.
The political intrigue with different races, bloodlines, family connections, secrets and scandals kept me interested throughout the whole series. The nightrunning aspect that is so strongly beloved by the many fans of the series is very important in this book and tests the main protagonists skill, trust and friendship. It melds them into a wonderful team and it is just a wonderful thing to accompany them as they try to figure out who they are to each other and try to uncover the truth together.
The book (and series) is extremely well-written and behind the Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire books probably my favorite series (with the Cut & Run series and the Sookie Stackhouse novels rounding out my top 5).
I told you the heart of the series was the relationship (including, but not limited to the romantic relationship that develops) between Seregil and Alec. But I can absolutely not review this book, without talking about the wonderful supporting characters that live in Lynn Flewelling’s universe. You will absolutely fall in love with them. Seregil’s best friend and once lover and his family, the wizards and really all their close friends, even the colorful people they encounter as they play lovable but harmless wastrels, who like to party and pick up much more than anyone suspects.
Every character you encounter in the book is crafted with love and care and attention to detail and comes to life in the book or audiobook. It is an amazing thing to experience and the mark of a truly great writer.
This series has been around since 1996 when I was 5/6 years old and has not lost an ounce of its magic and relevance since. It is one of the first and one of the best mainstream fantasy series to include gay characters and has earned it’s place at the very top of the genre. This book is very highly recommendable 😉 ❤
Lynn Flewelling grew up in Presque Isle, Maine. Since receiving a degree in English from the University of Maine in 1981, she has studied veternary medicine at Oregon State, classical Greek at Georgetown University, and worked as a personnel generalist, landlord, teacher, necropsy technician, advertising copywriter, and freelance journalist, more or less in that order. She currently resides in sunny southern California with her husband Douglas and two naughty dogs.
She is the author of two internationally acclaimed series: The Nightrunner Series and the Tamír Triad. Her books have been published in a dozen countries, including Japan and Russia.