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review 2017-06-26 21:07
Stalking Darkness (Flewelling)
Stalking Darkness - Lynn Flewelling

The sequel to "Luck in the Shadows", this novel essentially closes the story arc relating to the ritualistic reconstitution of an ancient object of power by a nasty modern-day pair (a politician and a wizard, of course). It also sees the first kiss between our two heroes, who have certainly dilly-dallied in getting to that point, but given that Alec is a juvenile, that's quite understandable. If you come to this series hoping for the hot-and-heavy sex and romantic angst of modern-day fanfic set in similar milieux, though, you'll be sorely disappointed. Like the first book, this one's heavy on the plot, relatively light on interpersonal relationships generally, and extremely light on the romance. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the move forward with a familiar world and familiar characters into a new collection of settings and problems. The self-immolation of the elder sage at the hands of a younger character so that the world can be saved is a well-worn trope (waves at that old Hogwarts greybeard); I am hopeful, though, that the PTSD that event rightly triggers in the enforced murderer will be woven into the character a bit and survive beyond the denouement of this book, rather than being instantly cured by a declaration and a first kiss. I think this author's good enough to manage that, and the characterisation important enough to her.


That said, I'm going to put this series aside a bit instead of pursuing the last three volumes right away, especially considering the neat wrap-up at the end of this volume. I found the world-building and plot clear and well enough structured, and the writing (other than, once again, the occasionally jarring American slanginess) quite all right, but when I look back on both novels from the distance of a few weeks, I discover I found them competent but not particularly compelling. If somehow I had read them when I was 16, it might have been a different matter.

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review 2017-04-19 15:54
Luck in the Shadows (Flewelling)
Luck in the Shadows - Lynn Flewelling

Back before I discovered the amazing and sometimes awful world of slash fanfiction, I grew interested in a somewhat similar phenomenon, though more muted, in published science fiction and fantasy by women, featuring gender transgressions (well, transgressions in those days) amongst mostly male characters. Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ursula Le Guin, Storm Constantine and others seemed to me the late twentieth century successors to a conversation that started with homoerotic undercurrents in the work of sentimental historical novelists like D.K. Broster.


The first two novels of this series were recommended to me long ago (though I can't remember by whom) as being in that same fantasy tradition. This first in the series, which I enjoyed, barely merits the "homoerotic" tag - we have only the beginnings of sexual awareness in the youthful protagonist, Alec, and a little bit of reported, suppressed attraction from the himself attractive somewhat older man, Seregil. What it does have is lots of solid world-building, along with a good cast of supporting characters, including a number of strong and disparate women. If I had a quibble at all, and it only occurred at the end, it was that the plot, which I found well-paced, was in fact rather obviously divided in two, with a detailed set-up of a dark magic threat in the first half, not fully resolved but then lost in the political/fraudulent machinations of the nobles in the second half. A serious threat to Seregil is averted in each half, but how or whether the two strands are otherwise connected has yet to be revealed. In a fantasy series, I'm much more inclined to forgive this kind of partial lack of conclusion, because the series, obviously, has to continue.


By and large the writing was good and the tone well-maintained. I was very occasionally lifted away from the page by some lapse into slanginess that I would have queried if I had been editing the book. If I've been stingy with my stars (as usual), it is only because I am anticipating with some pleasure that I may be able to push the rating up when Seregil and Alec achieve more of their destiny in the next book.

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review 2015-08-04 00:00
Luck in the Shadows
Luck in the Shadows - Lynn Flewelling There is a lot to be said for a fantasy that has an m-m cast. There isn't many around (or more likely I haven't read many), and it was refreshingly lacking the typical hero cliché that usually accompanies such novels, and that would be a young girl at the cusp of adulthood with the classic first kiss complex.

Don't get me wrong I still enjoy my fantasies and their heroes regardless the sex or age, but it seems that the subtle nuances of male attraction did the trick for this one. Not overly intense or sexual. The relationship developed completely naturally witch made it believable and relaxed.


The plot as such was one of the classic fantasy ideas – a small group of people, in this case two on their way to save the world by navigating treacherous waters of scheming royalty.

The world building was sound, and there was enough action, but I found that the only thing standing in my way of completely enjoying the work was the writing. It was as if you could identify the parts in witch the author was struggling and she had to come back and revise. Sometimes I would read a paragraph and have the feeling that it started in one direction but ended in another. It was every time that I stumbled on those paragraphs that they have taken away from the entire reading experience.

Pet peeves I guess.

All in all it was a good read.
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review 2015-06-22 00:00
Casket of Souls
Casket of Souls - Lynn Flewelling OH THANK GOODNESS, WE WENT BACK TO SPY STUFF. These books work SO MUCH BETTER when they're dealing with kingdom/social politics rather than yk, magic maybe evil alchemy babies. Kinda wish there was more resolution on the soul stealing plot, but it was so nice to get back into Flewelling's wheelhouse.

Loved the development around the princess royal and the queen, felt like this book picked up a bunch of earlier threads and pulled them back into the forefront. The cabal(s) were a little overly complicated/not distinguished enough, felt like she could have spent an extra 20-50 pages and expanded that a bit.
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review 2015-06-20 00:00
Shadows Return
Shadows Return - Lynn Flewelling Felt phoned in and unnecessarily grim. Very much a "gotta write this book so we can angst about it in the next book" feel.
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