Series spotlight: Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling

February 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm 16 comments

I’ve mentioned before that I tend to get bored easily. That is one reason why I usually spread my reading around quite a bit, mixing genres, series, and formats. It’s rare that I glom an author or read books in a series back to back. However, that has been the case with the fantasy Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling.Luck in the Shadows

I’ve been aware of it for a few years, often hearing it mentioned by other writers as a highly recommended  series. I finally picked up book 1, Luck in the Shadows when my Audible points came in for January, and though the Prologue was a little slow, I quickly got sucked into the adventures of Seregil and Alec.

Here is the description for book 1, Luck in the Shadows:
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.

In fantasy, I’m always much more interested in the thieves and spies than I am the kings and queens. While Seregil and Alec do eventually rub elbows with the powerful, most of the time they are working as Nightrunners, ferreting out useful bits of information to aid the Queen of Skala, posing as nobles one moment, bards and musicians the next.Shadows Return

The stories are interesting and fast-paced, with evil necromancers, wizard mentors, and loyal friends. There’s a great balance between action and time spent on learning the world of the series. This is one of those series where there are lots of terms specific to the world, and Lynn Flewelling has even provided a glossary. I’ve been listening to the audiobooks, which can be tricky with fantasy since there is so much information to take in. With print, one can flip back to refer to earlier scenes for clarification, and that isn’t possible with audio. However, the world unfolds in such a reader-friendly way, I never felt overwhelmed by the world building.

“Father, Brother, Friend, Lover”

Seregil, a young Aurënfaie (think elvish), is a wonderful character: witty and sharp, skilled in the ways of court and thievery, he surprises himself and those around him by taking Alec under his wing.

Alec is a 16 year old orphan who, until he is thrown in the prison cell where he meets Seregil, is all alone in the world and has been taking care of himself with his hunting skills and down to earth attitude.

Over the course of the first book, they come to rely on each other, often saving the other’s life. When Seregil is stricken by a mysterious magical illness, Alec proves that he is just as capable of taking care of him, and their dire situation.The White Road

Their relationship develops slowly over the first couple of books of the series (allowing Alec time to grow up) but it’s clear from early on in the first book that their relationship will become one which will go through many phases and transcend a single label. I love seeing Alec’s awareness of Seregil grow gradually, first feeling grateful for Seregil’s companionship, then confused (especially when Seregil passes himself off as a beautiful young noblewoman!) and then eventually connected to him at a deep spiritual and physical level.

Seregil, too, is changed by his relationship with Alec. An exile from Aurënen, he’s been a loner for most of his life, and relying on Alec is a completely new experience for him. He also struggles with the changes his relationship with Alec goes through, very aware of the fact that he is older and that Alec looks up to him.

A uniquely balanced world

Traitor's Moon-Japanese book cover

Traitor's Moon (Japanese cover)

Typically, this type of fantasy world (non-technological, with wizards, fae, and magic) tends toward a traditional male-dominated world, but that isn’t the case in the Nightrunners world. Skala is ruled by a matriarchal monarchy, the crown going to the eldest daughter. Yet, on all other levels men and women are not limited by traditional gender roles. One is as likely to find a Captain of the Queen’s Horse Guard to be a woman as a man. Wizards are both men and women. Even the houses of prostitution cater to both men and women and it’s as likely to house male prostitutes as it is female prostitutes.

On matters of sexuality and sexual orientation, attitudes and morés are also remarkably open and fluid in this world. Seregil is not identified as “gay” or “bi”. He just is. He clearly has a preference for men, but he’s had/has relationships with women as well.

Society accepts m/m relationships in the same way m/f are accepted. Alec, who is growing into his sexuality (and has grown up in the more conservative, Northern lands) finds this laissez-faire attitude confusing, but in the end everyone else’s openness helps him accept his love for Seregil.

However, all this being said about gender and sexuality, all these issues are taken as a matter of course, and not the main focus of the series. The action, centering on the intrigues around war between Skala and neighboring rival Plenimar really drives the books.

A wide variety of Nightrunner resources

While writing this post, I came across discussion groups, wiki, excellent fan art, all devoted to the Nightrunner world. GLBT Fantasy Fiction has a number of reviews of each Nightrunner book. In September 2009, the first 3 books were optioned by a film production company.

While waiting for my February Audible points to kick in (next week!) so that I can get Shadow’s Return (book #4), I’ll be checking these sites out, in an effort to satisfy my hunger for more Nightrunners.

The way I’m feeling about this series reminds me of how I felt when I first read Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series or Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, thinking about the characters when I’m not listening to the audiobook, and eager for the next one immediately upon finishing the last. I love discovering a new world, and this one is incredibly rich. I’m already worrying about the fact I only have 1 more book to read before I’m caught up with the series. There are currently 4 books in the series, with book 5, The White Road scheduled to be released May 2010. Lynn Flewelling is contracted for 2 more books after The White Road.

Entry filed under: Dark Fantasy. Tags: , , .

February 2010 Book Releases Just finished reading . . . She’s Got it Bad by Sarah Mayberry

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carolyn Crane  |  February 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

    it’s true! You are interested in spies and thieves in fantasy! Ooh, sounds like this one is a winner. I love that Japanese cover, too.

    I love the sound of this plot, and the prisoner open.

    Reply
  • 3. Chris  |  February 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

    The Japanese cover is very cool! *sigh* I keep trying, but I’m not feeling the fantasy reading love.

    Reply
    • 4. Renee  |  February 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      I go thru phases, and right now, I seem to be on a big fantasy kick. I think it might be (at least for now) my replacement for historical romance.

      Reply
  • 5. beth  |  February 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I’m a fan of Flewelling and have enjoyed all the Alec and Seregil books. I also liked the trilogy about the hidden queen, although it’s a bit darker. Thanks for remimding me about #5.

    Reply
    • 6. Renee  |  February 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Oh, I’ve seen the Tamir trilogy, and am really intrigued by the hidden gender identity. I’ll likely move on to this when I’m done with Nightrunners.
      You’re welcome! It’s going to be a hard wait for May, now. I love the image of Alec on The White Road cover!

      Reply
  • 7. orannia  |  February 20, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    *SIGH* Renee – after reading your post I’m just going to have to read this ASAP! (Well, once I read the books sitting by my bed, although… 🙂

    I just finished Corambis and am feeling…bereft…:( This sounds like just what I need!

    Chris – have you tried Melusine (Sarah Monette)?

    Reply
    • 8. Chris  |  February 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      I haven’t, but it’s definitely not the time for me to try any new fantasy. As part of the m/m rut challenge, I’ve tried two in the last week. I finished them and could tell they were decent books, but I can’t really review them because I’m so un-fantasy at the moment.

      Reply
      • 9. orannia  |  February 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm

        Fantasy fail? I completely understand as I’m still in romance fail ATM and so am devouring fantasy at the rate of knots 🙂

        Reply
    • 10. Renee  |  February 21, 2010 at 8:53 am

      Yes! You were the one I thought of most while writing this post. It’s got such a great combination of fantasy goodness and relationship with Alec and Seregil. A good follow-up for your post-Corambis let-down.

      Reply
      • 11. orannia  |  February 23, 2010 at 10:07 pm

        The first book is waiting for me to pick up from the library on the weekend, and considering that my current book is driving me bat-f*ck crazy (to quote Mildmay 🙂 I can’t wait to read it. It will be jumping my other two books *grin*

        Reply
  • 12. Amy C  |  February 21, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Hi Renee,

    I read the first two books in Lynn’s Tamir trilogy years ago. I had to wait so long for the third book that by the time it did come out, I had forgotten so much that I was afraid to start it, and now it’s been even more years. But I think about it all the time.

    I always think about reading her Nightrunner series. It’s been on the list since I read Bone Doll’s Twin! One day, maybe I’ll get to it.

    Reply
    • 13. Renee  |  February 21, 2010 at 8:55 am

      Amy!
      I can see where you’d be reluctant to pick up #3. LF’s books have so much detail, they might be hard to pick up and remember everything. Maybe if you read a wiki on the trilogy to refresh your memory?
      Hope you get a chance to read #3 and Nightrunners! 🙂

      Reply
  • 14. Renee  |  February 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

    orannia: Hope you like Luck in the Shadows! ::fingers crossed::
    lol on the Mildmay-ism. 🙂

    Reply
  • 15. February 2010 Read Books « Renee's Book Addiction  |  March 6, 2010 at 4:03 am

    […] Here’s my Nightrunners series post. […]

    Reply
  • 16. May 2010 Releases (Part 2) « Renee's Book Addiction  |  May 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    […] Series Spotlight post on the Nightrunners series. […]

    Reply

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