Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Stalking Darkness by Lynn Flewelling

With the Leran threat laid to rest, Alec and Seregil are now able to turn their attention to the ancient evil which threatens their land. The Plenimarans, at war with Skalans, have decided to defeat their ancient enemy by raising up the Dead God, Seriamaius. The early attempts at this reincarnation--masterminded by the sinister Duke Mardus and his sorcerous minion Vargul Ashnazai--once left Seregil in a sorcerous coma. Now, an ancient prophecy points to his continuing role in the quest to stop Mardus in his dread purpose.Seregil's friend and Mentor, the wizard Nysander, has long been the guardian of a deadly secret. In a secret, silver-lined room hidden well beneath the Oreska, he has served for most of his 300 years as the keeper of a nondescript clay cup. But this cup, combined with a crystal crown and some wooden disks, forms the Helm of Seriamaius, and any mortal donning the reconstructed Helm will become the incarnation of the god on earth.

Nysander holds the cup and Mardus the wooden disks--one of which was responsible for Seregil's coma--but the crown must still be located. Threatened under pain of death by Nysander to keep his quest a secret even from his loyal companion, Alec, Seregil is dispatched to find the last missing piece of the Helm so that he and Nysander can destroy it. But this is only the beginning of one of his deadliest journeys ever, for the prophecy also holds that four will come together in a time of darkness, and gradually all that Seregil values is placed at risk as he, Alec, Nysander and Micum are drawn into a deadly web of terror and intrigue.

Stalking Darkness is the second book in the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling, and I read it faster than I read the first one.

The events set in motion in Luck in the Shadows catch up with our characters in Stalking Darkness. The war is coming, and with it an evil force that could obliterate the world as they know it. Faced with impossible choices and life threatening tasks, the loyalty and bonds between the friends are tested. Additionally, they have a prophecy to contend with (What Epic fantasy doesn't have a prophecy?), and there's no guarantees that all of them will make it out alive.

In this second book the relationship between Alec and Seregil deepens. As best friends and confidantes there is a level of trust and loyalty there, but could there be something more? And if there is, is it worth risking what they have to pursue? I think that all of the relationships in this book--both romantic and not--develop beautifully in this book. They explore the complexity of true loyalty and friendship, and what it means to truly love someone above yourself in all things.

It is rare for me to like a second book in a series more than the first, but Stalking Darkness has accomplished that. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing where these crazy characters find themselves next.

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