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Random House LLC
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Luck in the Shadows: The Nightrunner Series, Book I Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Luck in the Shadows has good writing, a complex plot, and enticing characters. It combines rogues and wizards, and royals and gutter rats, and places them all in a country standing on the brink of war. The book starts off with a bang, but Flewelling teases us with storylines that take whole volumes to come to fruition. (Which is not the same as a cliffhanger, BTW. This story wraps itself up just fine, while leaving room for continuing adventures in this amazing world Flewelling's built.) There's no doubt I've fallen in love with the two main characters, Alec and Seregil, but the supporting players are rich and nuanced, too. Thero? Beka? Fantastic.
Seriously, this book exemplifies just about every reason I spend so much time reading epic fantasy. I think I originally picked it up because it was listed as m/m fantasy, but it can hold its own among the epic standards just based on the characters and the setting and the plot, which is all gritty and wonderful.
I haven't told you the best part, though:
OK, I can't believe I just typed that, because seriously? I think sometimes I must not have a romantic bone in my body. Lately, I've been finishing more and more books wishing the authors would have just skipped over the love stories. Some are reasonably well done, of course, but those stories are getting buried in the flood of paint-by-number romances. It's almost like there's a checklist out there, and authors haven't caught on yet that following it isn't doing them any favors. (Insta-love? Check. Otherworldly chemistry? Check. Poor Suffering Martyr syndrome? Check. Traumatic past? Check...) When I finally found a book a couple months ago that didn't have the slightest hint of a romance, I very nearly re-read it immediately just for the opportunity to revel in the lack of formulaic drama. I could swoon just thinking about it.
This is not that romance. The romance in this series is barely a twinkle in the author's eye by the last page of LitS; it doesn't take off for real until well into the second book. The characters fall in love slowly, and organically, and...and healthily! BTW, there are several reviews pointing out the age difference between the two mains, but I stand behind my "healthily." (The rest of this paragraph has slight spoilers...which I'd recommend risking if the other reviews about the age gap are giving you pause.) The older character doesn't age the way a human does, so it doesn't come across like he's a dirty old man, and perhaps more importantly, the extremely slow burn gives the impression that Seregil, the older one, has zero intention of taking advantage. By the time they get together for real instead of just in their own imaginations, the power imbalance is gone. It's a relationship of equals. Believe me, I'm really not one for the May/December trope, but this book doesn't come across that way to me.
Further, the author doesn't expect the characters to be invested in the romance before we readers are. In fact, she draws things out so skillfully, we're left practically panting for the characters to finally muster up their courage and get on with it already. And speaking of which: don't make the mistake of thinking Alec and Seregil are basing things on lust and chemistry. No, this is the real deal.
In other words, the romance in this book is just about the most romantic thing I've ever read, and I – as jaded an unromantic as anyone could probably be – just want to cheer at the sheer sweetness of it all.
But don't forget what I said before! This moving, captivating, SLOW love story is stretched out on the frame of really, really good tale. Those looking for a book where the plot is merely a support structure for the love story would probably be disappointed – I wasn't kidding...this first book barely even hints at the love story to come – if it weren't for how finely-crafted a fantasy this is. If you're looking for a book where the love story is secondary to the story-story, or if you're patient enough to let the author show you how satisfying delayed gratification can be, I think you'll probably like this quite a lot. (I have a hard time imagining anyone NOT liking this book/series quite a lot.)
As for me, regardless of whether this was the third or fourth time I've read this book, I have no doubt I'll find myself back in Rhiminee on many more occasions.
I can't help posting a caveat or two--the series doesn't seem to have been "planned" in advance--characters begin to develop one way and then turn out another way, events that are signalled as being significant disappear without a trace, antagonists that the reader of the first book or two think will be major forces in the series are relegated to the background, etc.
At the same time, I have to admit that this didn't materially damage my reading enjoyment. There is a war going on, but most of our characters are not involved in fighting it (directly). This wasn't what I expected but it turned out to be a nice change from reading books full of endless battle scenes.
The stories/adventures the protagonists experience are almost stand-alone adventures, with the backdrop of the world remaining fairly consistent.
However, despite my complaints, the plot is wonderful and Alec is very easy to relate to in most of his ways-- and of course everyone becomes intrigued by Seregil. And now that I've reviewed, I'm off to read the second book... I've heard it gets even better :)
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