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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,421 reviews
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 47 books128k followers
March 23, 2009
LOve LOVE this book! It's a great adventure fantasy book in the old tradition of escaping baddies and looming dark magic. I love the relationships as well. There's a connection between 2 male characters that I believe may turn romantic in the subsequent books, but honestly, it's so great and subtle and TRUE to them that wherever it goes I will be into it, and I wouldn't label it "Gay" persay, like say Melisure (which I love as well).

Definitely picking up books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, damn Kindle for not converting older books faster!
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,896 reviews1,927 followers
May 9, 2023
Rating: 3.5* of five


When did the "w" verb infect our literary landscape? When did this cheesy, arch, absurd act best done to prove to children that adults are condescending idiots become acceptable...nay, de otherwise sensible genre literature?


Now that I've got that off my chest, I'll attempt a review.

This series is billed as LGBT fiction by several sources. It's clear from the get-go that Seregil, our main man, is more gay than bi; it's obvious that Alec, his new young apprentice and the first such he's ever taken on, is in love with him and that Seregil returns the feelings with interest. Like carnal interest. There is no sex between them for the whole 400-plus pages of the book, and Alec has a memorable scene with a young woman who assumes he is already Seregil's lover: He denies it hotly, but makes no demur that such a thing is impossible. In fact, shortly thereafter he and Seregil dash off to do more action/adventure stuff and Alec says nothing, does nothing differently, and continues to act like Seregil's young lover, just without losing his culture and religion-specific modesty.

Honestly, that might put some m/m readers off, but I found it refreshing. Seregil's relationship with his long-term partner in crime is presented plainly as a long-standing love affair, but Micum (party of the second part) is married and has teenaged daughters and Seregil is accepted by Kari (Mrs. Micum) as part of the family. Alec, the interloper and a lad raised without any sense of belonging, is unquestioningly accepted into the fold on Seregil's behalf and treated to the enfolding warmth of acceptance for himself.

So this isn't sexy romantic's more important than that. It's not flashy because it's real: The sex one chooses to have isn't considered very important in this society Flewelling creates for us. Skala, Seregil's adopted homeland, just couldn't care less about a person's sex life, they accept all shades of the spectrum as normal, judging a person by their character. Yet Seregil's homeland, Aurënen, doesn't appear to be so enlightened; nor is Alec's Northern homeland apparently very open, given the physical modesty instilled in him there. His social awkwardness seems to be an artifact of his lonely upbringing as the son of a nomadic hunter. As soon as he's afforded opportunities to learn new and exciting things, he eagerly soaks them up. Alec is, in other words, the perfect mate for a man of Seregil's spying trade, semi-noble birth, and insatiable intellectual curiosity. What happens in the bedroom will have to wait for another book, and I for one am okay with that. It is more like real life this way, the discovery of a kindred soul deepening into an irreplaceable friendship, and the ship of life heading into the deepwater port of loving couplehood.

I'll go along.

I'm ill-equipped to comment on the secondary world's genre credibility. I'm not a regular fantasy reader. In fact, absent the m/m love story at the heart of the series, I'd never have given the books a second glance. I like Flewelling's fantasy world for its unusual aspects, including Skala's matrilineal royal family and gender-blindness of their social contract. General Phoria is also the Princess Royal. She is a soldier to her bones. Her young half-sister Klia is a respected and admired military commander. Their roles in society are of their own making, as are everyone else's, according to social station of course. This being a pet peeve of mine, the ongoing inability of fiction to present women as agents of their own fortunes and possessors of power in their own right, the Skalan world went down my throat like whipped cream.

The humor and sly side-eye commentary on our own world are fun to read, and it's a little bit sad this series is still able to break ground despite being 20 years old. In a world where Game of Thrones can dominate TV ratings and prestige, why hasn't this series gotten its movie or TV deal? The cost of filming fantasy worlds can't be the only reason. I just wonder.
May 24, 2020
💪 We are the Fearless MacHalos and we don't Only Read UF Crap we Read Fantasy Crap Too Buddy Read (WatFMawdORUCwRFCTBR™) 💪

💀 DNF at 50%. Because zzz.

Serial DNFing Mode (SDM™): engaged.

Crap damn bloody shrimping hell. I have not one but three, as in one, two, three Freaking DNF Non Reviews (FDNR™) to write. This is it. This is the end. I know most of you out there somewhat love to watch me suffer through crappy books and take perverse pleasure in reading my DNF reviews, but I can't do this anymore. I'm not getting any younger (even though you'd never think it if you saw me in the lovely, juvenile flesh), and I can't lose more precious time writing never-ending reviews for PoC™ I didn't read in their entire entirety. SO. I'm going to do this the express waywhich you could have foreseen, given the short length of this brief yet fascinating introduction.

Here goes.

I had high expectations for this one. I mean, it's Fantasy and stuff, and Fantasy usually rates much lower on the Official Crap Scale (OCS™) than its Urban Fantasy cousin (that's actually second cousin, twice removed. In case you were wondering.) But I must admit the main reason why I was looking forward to reading this book is because it has been shelved as M/M Romance by 226 supposedly astute Goodreads users. You know me, I just cannot resist anything labelled as Romance. The masochistic in me can't help it. I see "Romance," and I think: "oh cool, I haven't had the opportunity to (check all that apply) eyeroll/rage/rant/bang my head against the nearest hard surface/kill my Kindle in a while! Let's read this!" Yeah, a piñata is me.

But I digress.

So. As I was saying, the only reason I chose to read this lovely book (and that's the disgustingly honest truth, cross the little heart that I don't have, hope to die, and all that crap) is because of the M/M thing. I mean, come on, guys are, you know, GUYS. So a romance between two, you know, GUYS, can't be as silly and stupid and mushy and ridiculous as a romance between a female nitwit and a male bonehead, right? Right ← don't ask me where this harebrained idea came from, I have no idea. I never said any of this. I am innocent.

Yeah, that too.

But anyway.

What I am so brilliantly trying to say is: I figured that even though this was a Romance of Doom and Destruction (RoDaD™), at least it was M/M, which would probably prove refreshing compared to the RoDaD™ crap I never read. Besides, one of the two Ms was supposed to be a spy, a rogue, and a thief, which in murderous crustacean speak loosely translates to mean: YUM. YUM. YUM. And YUM.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I said I'd cut the crap. Guess what? I lied.

You know what the irony of it all is? This book killed me dead before the freaking romance stuff even begun!!! The nerve, Lynn Flewelling, the nerve!!! I got to the 50% mark and nothing even remotely, disgustingly romantic had happened!! No creepy sweet words exchanged, no touching, no kissing, no sexual innuendo, a big fat NOTHING! This is outrageous!! What a total rip-off. To make things worse, one of the male leads is a freaking 16-year-old *dies a little* You have got to be kidding me. Making one of your leads a teenager was a really low blow, Lynn Flewelling. I'm tough and stuff, but this was as horribly painful as it was unexpected. That is just not done, Lynn Flewelling, that is just not done.

Oh, did you want to know what this book was about? Well, after reading 250 delightfully entertaining pages of this story, I can tell you that much: it's not about exciting stuff. It's nothing but a Bloody Hell this is so Bloody Boring I might Die Coming of Age Story (BHtisBBimDCoAS™). And an unoriginal one at that. And one that feels like it was written 30 years ago at that. Yeah, I know, I'm harsh and nasty and cruel and unkind and blah blah blah and stuff. What can I say? It's a gift!

» And the moral of this Should Have Been Short but Ha! You've Been Had! It Wasn't! Crappy Non Review (SHBSbHYBHIWCNR™) is: can't sleep? Read this book. QED and stuff. Oh, and you're very welcome. And Stuff.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 348 books97.6k followers
January 30, 2014
An excellent tale with an unconventional hero.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews831 followers
July 26, 2018
”Luck in the shadows; you don’t question it, you just give thanks and pray it doesn’t run out!”

Luck in the Shadows fits perfectly into the classic fantasy shelf. Sadly, it does not have any added value. It has plenty of removed value, though.

Enter Seregil, a noble, a spy, a lover of luxury, and a representative of a mysterious people with a tragic past. Meet Alec, apparently a simple boy, slowly pulled by Seregil into a world where nothing is as it seems and the knowledge can only attract trouble.

I was bored after the initial five chapters. Theoretically, quite a lot is happening. Unfortunately, the adventures are hardly original, and the terribly dispassionate writing style, full of descriptions, info-dumps (usually in the form of dialogues even if it doesn’t make sense in a situation when both interlocutors know discussed things and go over them only for the benefit of the reader) and internal monologues enabled by the omniscient narration corrupt the reading experience even further.

The same applies to main protagonists, on the surface both figures have loads of potential, but the way they are developed made it impossible for me to form the slightest bond with either of them. Maybe it is because of the unrefined introduction: on the one hand we have an experienced and world-weary man, on the other an innocent adolescent who grew up in the wilderness almost unaware of life outside the backwaters he occasionally visited, And so, the sponsor needs to introduce this naive white lily to the complexities of the world (this goes on for many pages and ends up with awful poetry, also far too long).

There is also a motif of M/M romance and a figure of a gay son spurned by his father, but really, this was done by whole leagues better in Tigana.

The plot of this novel is painfully predictable. And if it is that easy to anticipate the course of events on the outset of the journey, how much more surprising can the rest of the series be? Not too much, I expect. And if it was a trilogy, I’d perhaps persevere, but there are 6 more books to come! Don’t get me wrong, I relish long fantasy series provided that there is enough to justify that many pages (Malazan, anyone?). I cannot see enough complexity here.

And because I have hundreds of interesting books waiting on the shelves, my most heroic feat of 2018 is abandoning this series right now and not after seven one-star reviews.

Please acknowledge.
Profile Image for Kirstine.
453 reviews566 followers
December 12, 2016
It's as if this book was written just for me.

It's the perfect swashbuckling, mystery-solving, roguish adventure, wherein the main characters are bisexual. Although that is, for Alecs part, not revealed until later.

Thank you, Lynn, for this revelation of a book.

It's the story of Alec, who is saved from prison and certain death by dashing Seregil, who takes him on as an apprentice. What exactly it is Seregil does is a little unclear to Alec. It's safest to say he does a little bit of everything - and soon Alec will too. Soon the world is no longer the woods he's known all his life. It's court intrigues, it's murder and conspiracies, it's parties and thieving, it's a world of magic, possibility and impossible heroics.

In its simplest form it's Alecs coming of age story. But it's also a brilliant, heartbursting adventure with magic, corruption, betrayal and dark secrets waiting to end the world as they know it.

And I loved every goddamn word. I loved the unassuming, simple depiction of very complex relationships. If there's one thing in this world I truly appreciate, it's loyalty. And not loyalty that is bought with money, but loyality bought with love. Loyality that grows out of shared pain, shared experience, and endless, eternal love. Loyalty born of friendship, a loyalty that cannot be broken, however much the world conspires.

Alec is thrown into a group of people who trust each other completely. And instead of treating him with distrust or apprehension, they greet him as a friend. They trust him, too. Alec has proven his worth after Seregil unwittingly puts his life in his hands, and having carried the fragile lifeblood of another person safely into healing arms, having saved him from death, Alec becomes one of them.

It was both a book that hinted at so much more, at dark hungry gods, plotting to end the world, and a book that had a self-contained story of a plot against the queen. Both were supported by incredibly steady, excellent worldbuilding. In this Lynn Flewelling doesn't hesitate. With sure, deft hands she crafts a world with history, pantheon and society I completely and utterly believed. Most of the details were relayed through stories told from Seregil to Alec, which was a clever way to do it, and left no weird, awkward interruptions from the author.

Most of all I applauded and relished in a world of such diversity. It could use a little more racial diversity, but in terms of sexuality and gender it was fucking fantastical. Women had power, they were never confined to the kitchens, nor to get married or sleep with only men. Alec is from a place with a less tolerant society, but in the bigger cities and more free-thinking regions you can be who you are. Which is so refreshing. To read a book where these things are not gingerly approached and kept on the sidelines, but thrown directly in there, and done so expertly, without making the story about it. The characters simply are that way, while adventure happens to them.

This is just a perfect book. Whenever I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. Now that I'm no longer reading it, I'm still thinking about it. And I can't wait to continue with the series. That there are seven books in all should probably overwhelm me, but it just makes me excited. So much of this world to see, so many adventures to have.

Sometimes you get so stupidly, unbelievably lucky. With this book I did.
Profile Image for Alice.
229 reviews44 followers
January 21, 2018

This was harder than normal to read. I read this pretty slowly. I finally got faster at reading this at around page 400. Two main characters. (Seregil and Alec) It's not duo perspective. Different characters can also be the main voice at any point in the story, but Seregil and Alec are the most commonly used ones. There are 4 gods. There are wizards. Also there are these mysterious discs. It ended on a cliffhanger (the 1st two books are linked I think) so I'll probably read the next one because I'm invested in the characters and I like the action scenes.

It's one of those books that I'm glad I read for the experience, but I don't love it and it took me 6 days (not reading at all for 1 day) to finish which really pissed me off. Too much setting description for me. The worldbuilding is very good, but I can't remember a lot of it because I had such a hard time with the description for the longest time. I think some of the less important scenes could have been skimmed over more and replaced by more action.

I heard about this because it was written in the 90s, but has a gay romance. This book has very very little romance so if your looking for that it's probably in the 2nd book. Maybe 2% and it's just hints at a future romance. I was obsessed with it though. I love extremely subtle romance / friends to lovers.
Profile Image for Krell75.
287 reviews16 followers
May 14, 2023
"A volte un incontro ti cambia la vita."

Romanzo di inizio saga dalle tinte investigative che nella sua semplicità di trama intrattiene ed ha un buon ritmo, ma quello che propone non stupisce per idee brillanti.

Buono l'utilizzo della magia, mai fuori luogo ma utile e di supporto, forse un po' risolutivo.
Ho apprezzato la cura nei dettagli anche se i protagonisti non si discostano eccessivamente dai soliti standard e i secondari non sono memorabili.

Ammetto di aver preferito la prima parte del romanzo, avventurosa e intrigante, alla seconda, decisamente prevedibile nello svolgimento delle indagini. Insomma, un altro investigativo dal gusto fantasy.

Tre stelle in attesa dei successivi per avere un quadro completo a giudicare l'intera trilogia, sperando in una maggiore personalità e un intreccio narrativo di più ampia portata degno di essere ricordato.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
47 reviews17 followers
March 24, 2008
One thing I want to say before I launch into a summary/review: the main characters are not gay; they're bisexual. Both of them express interest in and have relationships with women. It's a silly thing to get nitpicky about, but I do. On with business.

Alec is a young man, just turned sixteen and recently orphaned, who earns a living trapping and trading furs. He's lived his entire life in the wilderness, learning how to survive and navigate seemingly featureless plains and endless forests. His solitary existence is disrupted when he is arrested by the local lord accused of being a spy. Alec is thrown into the dungeon, where he is tortured for several days. Then the guards bring a new prisoner and throw him in with Alec. Before Alec knows it, he and the strange man have escaped the dungeon and are camped in the woods outside the castle. The man introduces himself as Seregil, a wandering bard who, like Alec, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Seregil needs to get to Wolde, a large trading-center, in three days, but the only way to get there in time is to take a shortcut that only Alec knows, so Seregil hires Alec as his guide, and the pair make their way to Wolde.

Along the way, Seregil confesses to Alec that he actually is the spy the lord was looking for, and offers Alec a partnership of sorts. Alec is hesitant, but Seregil convinces him with tales of magic, dragons, adventures and riches. When they reach the city they meet up with Seregil's partner, Micum. The trio heads south for Skala, which is one of the Three Lands (Plenimar and Mycena are the other two), but soon after Micum leaves the party to investigate some suspicious activity back in the North, and Alec and Seregil continue on. It seems there's about to be yet another war between Skala and Plenimar, and Plenimar is seeking allies in the North, which is why Seregil and Micum, agents of the Skalan government, were up there.

The two have lots of adventures, and kick lots of butt, and all the other usual things that happen in fantasy/action-adventure novels.

The review:

It has a standard Medieval Europe-type setting, complete with wizards, elves (she can call them whatever she wants, they're ELVES, okay, only without pointy ears), and various other mythical creatures. When I first read it, I had a very lukewarm response to it. It was definately an "okay" book in my opinion. The beginning just didn't grab me. Also, being first in a series (and the first novel Lynn wrote), there is a lot of exposition and world building, which I wanted to skim but didn't since I needed to know this stuff. Most of it is in dialogue form, with Alec acting as our conduit, while Seregil explains the customs and history of the Three Lands. It got tedious, and I found some of the passages just a tad awkward.

But the characters...especially Seregil...just grabbed hold of my heartstrings and made me care about them. And the dialogue--Lord, Seregil has a wit that could shred the wind! I love his irreverent sense of humor, too. And the chemistry between him and Micum just works; I can't think of any other way to put it. After I read the sequels, and then reread this one, I found myself falling in love with it.
Profile Image for Claudie ☾.
547 reviews138 followers
May 7, 2021
I really liked this — good, solid fantasy with a pair of well-drawn MCs, sneaky enemies, and lots of action. 👍 Great wordbuilding. Lovely writing.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
October 21, 2015
I've noted before about some books that they can be very hard to rate. This is another. It opens up and catches the interest drawing you in. The story is well constructed and pretty obviously setting up a long "saga".

The thing is that there are times that the story grinds down to almost a halt. If you've read any of my other reviews you know that I'm not fond of personal stories, interpersonal relationships and romance when it takes over a narrative. In this book that doesn't actually happen...but it happens in spurts. There are places where the book turned into a real yawner. We skip from plot point to plot point but have long...stops, interludes in between. When we reach "the big city" (Rhiminee) and we start filling in the Alec character/story there are so many slow scenes as to drive one to bed.

As I went along the magic portions of the story tie in well and we get the picture of our anti-hero, co-protagonist, Seregi's story. He's got a past and a secret (at least from Alec) and a lot of friends. He's part of a much bigger story. He's also a weirdly conscience stricken anti--hero at times doing the "moral thing" (usually when he's called on something...)

By the way there is a sister series, Tamír Triad. This book is the first in the Nightrunner Series.

So, I realize this is one of those "murky" reviews...the problem is the book is the same way. Very well written and interesting parts interspersed with dull slow parts.

And I know that different people will find different parts interesting. The book is however very well written and even the parts that lost me/my interest will probably pull other readers in.

I can't bring myself to give this book more or less than 3 stars...will I follow the series? I'm not sure, maybe. I can say that the idea here is a good one and the book gives me hope that I might like the next better...the problem is I also might not like it as well.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
October 12, 2016
This was my first time reading Lynn Flewelling's books and I was quickly drawn into the story. The mix of sword and sorcery with classic fantasy troupes means that this feels like coming home for me and the characters instantly felt like I could connect with then and as if I was able to sympathise with their struggles. I also love the fact that this book hints at and even explicitly states that there are homosexual and bisexual characters within the plot, and as the book and series goes on I am sure this will grow. It doesn't overpower the plot or feel forced, it's natural and wonderful and I am really enjoying seeing the characters come together over time...

What is this all about though?
In terms of plot we are following two major characters and a couple of more minor ones. Our first character is Alec who is a young man who lost his father earlier in the year and has been living off the land foraging. Alec starts the story trapped in a cell and accused of being a spy, but he's not the spy they are looking for and he knows that he needs to escape becuase the other prisoner with him looks pretty close to death from all the torture...
The second character is Seregil who is, indeed, a spy and thief. He's the one that Alec's captors are actually looking for and when he's caught too he meets Alec and quickly frees him from the cell. This all happens very fast in the start of the book so it's not a spoiler, but from that point onwards Seregil is drawn to Alec and wants him as a travelling companion and the two of them set off on some pretty big adventures...

Character Development:
I genuinely think that these characters felt real at times and particularly I found them relatable when discussing love and heartache and sexuality. This is something I don't often see in epic or classic fantasy, and I think these characters are just true to themselves throughout and they made me super exited to keep reading on.

I think the world within this made sense in my head and there is a map to help keep it straight. We get mention of various places and we follow our companions as they journey through some of these places too which makes it feel more realistic. I also liked that we saw political and territorial divisions of people which meant that the world felt more expansive and it gave good reasons for war and the like.

Writing Style:
The writing style of this book is to the point and gives you just a little bit more detail than an average book might. I don't think that this is one of those series which spends too long going over descriptions of places, but the internal thoughts are sometimes very beautiful and hold more insight into our character's minds.

Emotional Connection:
I really found myself excited by the plot and the characters and I have to say that both in written and audio format I found myself tearing through the pages/minutes and wanting to know what came next. I didn't get truly attached to the characters until book #2 (which I've already finished as I am enjoying it so much) but I really really liked them in this book and there were moments I felt for them.

This is a really solid sword and sorcery style fantasy which plays on some troupes you probably already know and love but keeps a few tricks up its sleeve to really keep you reading. I found it to be very enjoyable throughout and I instantly wanted to read the entire series (which I am working on now). I would definitely recommend both the book and audiobook if you like the sound of it! 4*s
Profile Image for Mirko Smith.
134 reviews1,150 followers
June 18, 2021
Ad oggi uno dei miei libri preferiti del 2021, non so perchè abbia aspettato così tanto per leggerlo!
Profile Image for Len Evans Jr.
1,452 reviews204 followers
August 6, 2019
I originally started this book way way back in January... I would read a bit... then leave it, then come back to it a bit later. The first half of the book is very much about world-building and introducing us to the two main protagonists Seregil and Alec. Due to this i found reading it a bit of hard work. That is until I got to about the halfway point and oh boy did things pick up then! And they did not let up till the very end. I love Alec and Seregil so much... and so many of the other people are also very memorable. Just so ya know this first book ends on a half cliff hanger as book two picks up soon after the end of this book. By cliff hanger I don't mean my favorite guys are in any danger... it more of a "there is so much they still don't know" cliffhanger. The writing throughout the book is top notch, though it got weighed down a bit in the info dump of the first half, the quality never wavered. I am seriously looking forward to starting book 2 very soon and continuing this awesome story!!!
Profile Image for Dea.
384 reviews
March 18, 2023
Here are we again and here is a repeat of a 5 stars rating.
Why the highest rating there is for a book this slow and long!?
I am trying to form a coherent review but it's not going well for me.
I adore this kind of old school fantasy and adventure book. I feel like I am a small kid again, starting to discover fantasy worlds, elves and wizards again.
The plot is not very complex, some evil is lurking around the corner and the magic element isn't even that dominant in this book nor there are breathtaking fighting scenes.
Seregil and Alec are marvellous and a great pair of friends, thieves, spies and everything else because they are good at almost everything. That usually makes me roll my eyes but I love them!
A great fantasy book for me is a well written one with a plot that I want to uncover and with great set of characters that have chemistry.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,462 reviews8,567 followers
February 14, 2010
Luck in the Shadows is about sixteen-year-old Alec of Kerry, who at the beginning of the book is taken prisoner for a crime he didn't commit. Fate brings him his cellmate Seregil, a spy, thief, and rogue. Together they escape the prison and Seregil takes Alec under his wing as his apprentice. For a while Alec enjoys experiencing things he's never done and traveling to places he's never gone. However, things take a turn for the worse when Alec and Seregil find themselves caught in a nefarious deception unraveling within the rulers of their land. Together they must try to see who is behind the wrong-doing.

I thought this was a very good novel, especially putting into consideration my low tolerance for in depth fantasy novels. I liked the romance between Alec and Seregil. Even though they haven't really acknowledged their love for each other, it was still sweet. I also thought the whole adventure was good... which I guess is the point of fantasy novels.

Things I didn't like. There were small grammar errors, like a missing quotation mark or misspelled word, which made me mad at the editors. The beginning was somewhat like a dump of information instead of plot. And the book is obviously setting up for a sequel. But overall, not a bad book.
Profile Image for Rosa.
642 reviews6 followers
April 1, 2023
In the first installment of Nightrunner books, “Luck in the Shadows”, Lynn Flewelling give us a glimpse of the complex society of Skala and its inhabitants.
Through the journey our heroes made from Asengai's domains to Rhíminee, Flewelling shows you her fascinating world. Skala and the three lands have its own religion, politics, traditions and mithology and you start to see it through Alec's eyes. Though this first book has a politic plot running inside, is mainly an introduction of characters, but when you finish it you’ll be starving for more.
Profile Image for Elena.
836 reviews88 followers
April 2, 2023
The worldbulding was certainly A LOT at times, but it was interesting and not too much difficult to follow. I loved the characters, the MCs especially, but also the secondaries, although I could’ve done with fewer POVs and smoother changes between POVs.
The plot seems solid, with the right amount of humor, and it kept my interest, time will tell if what’s been set up in this first book will keep its promises.
And now I’m off to start the second book before the other half of my BR group wakes up and I’m left holding them back again. 😂
Profile Image for Jemppu.
500 reviews91 followers
November 15, 2022
I can see how this might be dear and important and nostalgic to many whom read it at younger age, and how this could've been something teen me would've cherished too, but it didn't really charm me of today that much; I wasn't able to get into depths with the swords and wizardry narrative, and the whole old master / young apprentice arrangement felt rather thin and just too spent a trope (in both the fantasy setting and for any more nuanced romantic pairing).

Still, a rarer treat for devout fantasy aficionados of past years, no doubt.

Reading updates.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books703 followers
January 2, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I was concerned as I did not have a great experience with the Tamir triad, but this gave me much more confidence in her writing.

CONTENT WARNING: (just a list of topics)

Things to love:

-The characters. Alec, Seregil, Nysander, Micum... they're exactly the sort of gothic heroes for whom I always find room in my heart. There's brooding! There's father figures! There's declarations of deepest trust! And so many women doing things without anyone fussing all the damn time about gender roles! Glorious.

-The plot. It's a heist and an intrigue and a war could have been very boring or messy, but I thought we were fed the next bit of the puzzle at opportune moments. Again, very "gothic" in style, but that works for me.

-It takes its time. There felt like there was real enjoyment in the writing of the quieter scenes. There's all sorts of adventure, but the author went through discussing training and world building and all the rest in a way that felt more intimate and cozy than such detail often feels. I never felt like she just didn't know where to go next, like so many other books that emulate this style.

-The detail. I am always appreciative when someone takes the time to dismantle things that have become commonplace through overuse. I loved that she had thought out the realities of the situations she constructed, and gave them to us. No one for a second has serious magic done on them and is like "yes, of course, this is totally fine and there are no consequences." Same with the relationships, we watch them slowly form, and I really like that.

The sand in my shoe:

-A bit drawn out. There's detail, and there's detail. A few parts I felt we lingered on things meant to titillate or cause laughter at moments I didn't think were terribly funny. I could have done without them.

-The ending. It's a massive effing cliffhanger.

Obviously I'm not too mad about it--I've already started book 2. I almost never read series back-to-back, but I'm making an exception. The audiobook was good, not great, FYI. He does dialogue really well but seems to phone in the narrative parts a bit. Still, he didn't detract from the story and I will keep listening.
Profile Image for Moony Eliver.
305 reviews161 followers
March 27, 2023
My god this was hilarious.

I mean, it has other things to recommend it, too. The characters are great, both mains and secondaries pop off the page. I enjoyed the plot a lot too — complex and definitely requires close attention. I was usually happy with the way the world building was laid down, via storytelling and incorporating the characters' experiences, which made it interesting and easy to follow. Like almost all fantasy books, sometimes the wb and descriptive parts felt a little dry or detail heavy, but those times were few. One thing that I didn't love, although I'm not holding it against it... the POV changes constantly, and not just between the two MCs. I found that a little distracting.

But also... it was freaking funny. A book wriggles into my heart when it makes me repeatedly laugh out loud like this, especially when I wasn't expecting that element. Made sneak reading at work quite difficult.

Thanks to my awesome BR group, even though I'm the worst and sped through this too quickly, leaving myself ages to wait until I can actually talk about it. 😂

Profile Image for DaisyGirl.
1,203 reviews65 followers
July 6, 2013
2.5 Stars

Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit. While incarcerated, he meets Seregil of Rhiminee. Together, the two escape and Alec soon becomes Seregil's apprentice spy, rogue, thief, and Watcher. Soon, Alec and Seregil are embroiled in political intrigue and mystery in a land poised on the brink of war with only their wits, skills, and friends to keep them alive.

This one was meh. I am a fan of the fantasy genre and there was a lot of great world-building here but I had a few gripes. First, this was not an m/m romance. There was no m/m and there was zero romance. Maybe things take place later in the series (and I have heard it mostly happens off-page), but in this book? Nada. Second, parts of this story were excruciatingly slow. Like seriously painful. I get that book one in a series - and a fantasy novel to boot - usually dedicates a lot of real estate to world building and providing context for the place and characters. This book was no exception. There was a TON of "history" but it wasn't always necessary or relevant to the story and weighed it down IMHO. Third, Barien and Phoroa. Um. I'm sorry but that sucks balls. I cannot respect hypocrisy. It makes me sick. Lastly, too many animals got hurt or killed in this book. (Read: Scrub.) I hate that.

Bottom-line: maybe this series holds promise but this book was too slow for me, the characters were meh, and the hypocrisy unacceptable.
Profile Image for aria ♡.
651 reviews50 followers
March 20, 2023
Luck in the shadows, Alec; you don't question it, you just give thanks and pray it doesn't run out.

This had the ingredients to be a favourite: Sword and sorcery, swashbuckling fantasy with mentor and student relationship as the main pairing, political intrigue with our main cast acting as spies. Someone even recommended it as Theft of Swords but Hadrian and Royce fall for each other. And yet, by the Maker was this boring.

We start with our main character Alec being wrongly imprisoned and rescued by Seregil, a master spy, who offers to teach him his trade. My first impression of Alec was that he was a kid. I honestly thought he was like eight. Colour me surprised when he said he was sixteen.

I did not care for the characters, at all. Characters kept being introduced and all I could think was “Nice to meet you. Please make this more interesting,” and being disappointed when they were the same one-dimensional characters as the rest of them. This wouldn’t have been a problem if the plot were engaging but it was not. I was bored. There’s a war on the horizon, our characters are being hunted down and somehow, I was bored. I’m pretty sure I skimmed the last five chapters because I was so done. And the info-dumping. Info-dumping doesn’t bother me but this was too much. Every time Alec and Sergil sat down? Really?

I’m actually really disappointed, I was looking forward to this series ever since I discovered it and this was so disappointing😕
Profile Image for Joanka.
441 reviews72 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
July 8, 2019
I decided it was time to either finish it or abandon and so I do the latter. I can't rate it as I read only 30% of the novel but it simply wasn't my cup of tea - I found it boring not because nothing happened but because everything seemed so bland. The characters weren't original nor compelling, I simply didn't care about them, nor about their country. Finally, the worldbuilding was far from subtle - one of the characters is wise and worldly, the other lived in a goddamn forest most of his life so it's a perfect opportunity for long explanations of the state of the world, politics, geography, religion... When the characters started singing some epic poems for a few pages I groaned and simply turned a few pages further to see if anything more interesting happens there. And I never do such things!

When I think about it, this kind of fantasy almost never works with me. I mean these high, serious fantasy stories about fate of the whole world, with characters being epic from the start. So maybe it's "it's not you, it's me" case, but I don't have time nor energy to fight with this book when so many better ones (hopefully) wait for me.
Profile Image for Connor.
687 reviews1,656 followers
February 26, 2019
[3.75 Stars] This is one of those situations where the beginning is pretty slow and maybe a bit unfocused, but then around half of the way through, I became really invested and wanted to know everything. I like the set up of the world a lot, and I think the characters will have a lot of adventures and will grow a ton. The pacing was a bit off at first, like I said, but in the end I was flying through the book to find out what would happen next. Seregil definitely is my favorite character so far. I loved his home/compiled family situation. I wanted more time with them, but I know that would have slowed down the story a lot.

I still think this is a good ole 90's fantasy where the main character has a oh-so-secret past, is destined for something more, and will save the world. Also his mentor has a million secrets and doesn't share them! But it is a bit different here because his mentor has a mentor who also has 8,000 secrets, and Seregil and Alec will probably get together yeah yeah yeah.

Certainty a fun story, and I definitely will be continuing when I get my hands on the second book or when my library buys the audiobook for it.
Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 4 books1,866 followers
April 13, 2020
This started out in a promising fashion, with a welcome tone of jaunty adventuring, enhanced by the presence of two winning, enjoyable main characters. But as it wore on, the pace got more and more sluggish, and the plot devolved into confusing court intrigue, with an anticlimactic ending and a “to be continued...” message on the final page.

While I appreciate aspects of this work, especially the charm and authentic feel of the aforementioned two main characters, I don’t anticipate continuing on with their story, unless I can be assured that the later entires improve significantly.
Profile Image for Gergana.
227 reviews391 followers
Shelved as 'zzz-books-not-for-me'
December 15, 2016
DNF: 44%
I....just...couldn't go on. It was just too boring for me...

Read in December, 2016
Profile Image for Abigail Hilton.
Author 63 books156 followers
August 28, 2010
I wanted to like this book. It's an action/adventure fantasy that contains gay and bi-sexual characters. The book is not a romance and contains plenty of plot and action that have nothing to do with sex. We need more books like this - books with a range of sexual orientation and expression, books that contain gay men in a story that can still be enjoyed by anyone who is not a bigot. Like many straight women, I enjoy stories with gay characters, but I prefer books that have an engaging plot that would stand on its own even without the romance, books that I can share with my boyfriend and see him enjoy. I search for these kinds of stories. I'm glad this one got published.

However, the author is still learning to write here, and it's painful. She does a lot of eye-glazing info dumps. Perhaps she learned how to "show, not tell" in later books, but here she still hasn't learned. The plot and much of the world seem derivative, although some aspects are charming. In this story the Gandalf-ian wizard has a fiery girlfriend and a pair of quarreling apprentices. This makes him seem more human than the average all-knowing wizard. But he's still basically, ya know, Gandalf. The politics are interesting, but presented in a clunky way. The magical system is well-thought out, but delivered in academic detail. Worse, the flirtation between the main characters sometimes reads like slash or bad romance ("he colored hotly") Hotly?! Gahhhh. The descriptions suffered from weird switches between Tolkien-esque fantasy and Japanese Yaoi. I got the idea that she cut her writing teeth on fan fic, and conventions from that world kept making unwelcome appearances.

I read the first half of the book and skimmed the rest. I suspect this author gets better over time, and I may pick up some of her more recent work at some point. Like I said, I'm glad these books were published.
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,579 reviews104 followers
April 2, 2023
3.75 stars

I don't know why it took me so long to reread this. I've been meaning to do so for years, and then my BR group wanted to read it and put it on our 5-year plan. We managed to get to it in 4 years. 🥳

I love Seregil and Alec, and Nysander and Micum, and Beka and Klia and just about all the other secondary and tertiary characters. Thero not so much

This is well done fantasy, even if the world building does at times bog things down just a little. But Alec's character - new to everything going on around him - makes a very natural reason for all the other characters to have to explain things to him (and us). It's solid world building for the most part, and it really brings the world and the characters in them alive. Flewelling also has a knack for making every single character jump off the page, no matter how little or briefly they appear. There are some things that do seem to be there just for the sake of it, the centaurs for instance, but they could have significance later and I've just forgotten in the 11 years since I first read this book.

Seregil is irascible and daring, and Alec, while young and green, proves to be just as brave and quite a bit more observant. He might be naïve, but he's smart and quick to learn. I liked that while he might be bashful about some things (nudity, for instance) he's not judgmental about them. Nysander is sweet and kindly, but he can be stern when he needs to be. Micum is hilarious, and it's clear that he and Seregil go a long way back. I do appreciate the nuances Flewelling added to their friendship.

I wouldn't have thought to mention the POV switches if my friends hadn't. There are many of them, but there's no head hopping. The POVs are kept within their own sections, noted by section breaks. While Seregil and Alec might be the "main" characters, I do hesitate to consider them thus since this really is an ensemble cast of characters, and they each have their own importance to the story and world. This is fantasy after all, NOT romance where only two POVs max would be expected.

I do have to knock off a quarter star from the rating though. I was appalled at the number of typos in this, and this is from a Big 5 publisher. I marked about fifty typos I'm going to have to go back to and fix at some point; that averages to about one typo every five pages. It's inexcusable.
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