Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

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.

Some friends and I were at a bookstore looking at a spinner of mass market paperbacks, when I picked up a book with a cover which was amazing in that slightly bad way. "Look! Gay pirate spy elves!" Upon investigation, we discovered that while they weren't pirates, they were gay spy elves. Naturally, we concluded that that was amazing and that we had to read the book.

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling is the first book in this series. An epic fantasy surrounding the spy Seregil and his apprentice Alec, the book was honestly far better than I was expecting it to be. If you know and love epic fantasy, you won't be disappointed. There is world building-a-plenty, and world shattering stakes that outreach the length of a single book.

Also impressively, this book was released in the '90s, when openly gay characters were even more scarce than they are now. In Flewelling's world, homosexuality of both genders is openly accepted and embraced (with an intricate brothel culture involving different colored lights and sexual preference--frankly an entire book could be written about their red-light district). As well as a highly equal society where women make up a good percentage of the leadership and most of the world doesn't bat an eye. Sounds like our world could learn a few things from theirs, right?

With tons (and I mean that literally--500 pages worth) of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance, Luck in the Shadows is the start of a great series for all lovers of fantasy.

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