When Alec of Kerry wanders onto the wrong lands at the wrong time, he finds himself captured and tossed in a dungeon on charges of spying. It’s an overwhelming situation for a young man who was just hunting for animal pelts. He finds himself on the verge of a death sentence and without a friend in the world. And then Alec meets a fellow cellmate, a bard who seems determined to escape. When he helps Alec to freedom as well, Alec finds himself tagging along with the mysterious Seregil.
Seregil has helped people out of tight spots before, but there’s something different about the unassuming Alec. Seregil is compelled to bring Alec with him, despite the danger associated with his work. Alec’s new life is filled with intrigue, burglary, magic, violence, and adventure. It’s not what he expected, but with Seregil at his side, Alec finds himself ready for whatever happens next.
Luck in the Shadows is a somewhat older book, but one that he been recommended to me many times and I just never got around to reading it. So when I found a copy at a local bookstore, I grabbed it and decided it would be a good fit for our Reading Challenge Month here at Joyfully Jay. Luck in the Shadows is the first in the Nightrunner series and, based on the complexity of the first novel, you definitely want to read these in order.
Alec and Seregil are really the core of this book and they serve as both guides and protagonists for the world around them. Alec is inexperienced, but he never struck me as naive. Rather, he is tossed into the whirlwind that is Seregil’s life and demonstrates he is actually capable of adapting and thriving. But this is only part of what makes him different and of such interest to Seregil. The author hints at something dark on the horizon for Alec, but it’s very subtle. Seregil is not quite what he seems and I got the impression that he’s a man who has so long played a part that he sometimes forgets who he actually is. There are subtle suggestions that something romantic might be brewing between Seregil and Alec, but this is pretty minimal. Luck in the Shadows is definitely a fantasy first and foremost and one that is clearly taking its time to build a foundation for the rest of the series.
The plot to Luck in the Shadows is somewhat complex and it takes a bit of paying attention, but the depth of it is what I love. Time and effort have been put into building the world and creating the kind of fantasy that leaves its mark. My only frustration was the pacing. There were times when information was essentially dumped and it slowed down the narrative. Often this was given via a story told by Seregil and I found those became somewhat excessive. Had things been more more smoothly integrated, I think Luck in the Shadows would have been a more clean read.
Aside from some pacing issues, Luck in the Shadows was a fairly strong and engaging fantasy. It’s main characters, Alec and Seregil, are rather endearing and their bond is what really elevates the book above the ordinary fantasy. I think anyone who appreciates strong world building, characters, and plot will find Luck in the Shadows to their liking. Consider this one highly recommended!.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of two great audiobook bundles from Tantor Audio (you can see the details and full event prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on TBR Pile Week here.