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Luck in the Shadows (Lynn Flewelling, 1996) Study Guide: Chapters 33-37

Summary: Chapter 33 "Among the Scavengers"

Seregil, Micum and Alec go to the city's three charnel houses, where unidentified bodies are kept for a short time, to see if any of the three missing persons (Lord Teukros, his servant Marsin, or Marsin's girlfriend Cillia) have turned up there. At the first house, Alec is so shocked and nauseated by the sights and smells that he has to stand outside; at the second and third locations, he forces himself to go in and help with the search. They find Cillia's body at the third location.

Summary: Chapter 34 "Phoria's Confession"

Seregil puts in a requisite appearance at Lord Barien's public dismemberment, leaving behind Micum and Alec, who don't want to go (although Alec feels guilty about it). Before the body can be destroyed, however, the heir to the throne, Princess Phoria, arrives to grant Barien a posthumous pardon.

Nysander meets with the queen and the princess. Phoria explains that she, Barien, and Teukros were involved in a scheme which involved forging a Queen's Warrant in order to divert money from the treasury in order to get Teukros out of debt and save the family honor. The deal never went through--the gold never showed up and the creditor died, functionally eliminating the problem--but nonetheless Barien felt so guilty about his involvement that he committed suicide.

Nysander reports back to the Watchers who identify three problems with this account: (1) it doesn't explain the forgeries involving Seregil, (2) it leaves one Queen's Warrant unaccounted for, and (3) it doesn't explain what happened to the gold. Micum decides to goes home to his family while Seregil and Alec follow the money.

Summary: Chapter 35 "Cirna"

Seregil and Alec depart from Wheel Street, leaving the excuse that Lord Seregil is going on an extended journey to calm his nerves after his prison ordeal. On the journey, Seregil and Alec have one of their spats-which-end-in-renewed-promises-of-trust-and-loyalty. At Cirna, they pore over shipping manifests, finally concluding that the gold must have been transported in a shipment of marble.

Summary: Chapter 36 "Trouble on the Highroad"

While Seregil is subtly questioning a marble merchant, Alec notices a stamp on one stone which he recalls seeing at Kassarie's house; they confirm that Kassarie was the owner of the quarry at the time of the embezzlement. They decide to head back to Kassarie's to investigate further, unaware that they are being observed.

On the way home, they find that a rockslide has closed the main road, requiring them to walk their horses on a narrow cliff path. Ambushers cause another rockslide, injuring Seregil. With great difficulty, Alec and Seregil manage to fight off the attackers, and barely avoid falling to their deaths.

Analysis: Chapters 33-36

Micum's divided loyalties between his family and his country are key in chapters 35-36, and he clearly feels guilty for picking his family (although his choice not to go may or may not end up saving the boys' lives in the next section). It seems that this is a battle Micum is always fighting within himself; indeed, it seems to grow from the old rivalry between Seregil and Kari. Micum's choice to stay with his family this time seems to be inspired somewhat by Alec's presence: Seregil has a new companion now.

Seregil and Alec share an intense love of adventure and mystery, even when they're investigating a matter that doesn't really pertain directly to them in any way. After their day in the library, Micum notes that they "the happy look of hounds on a warm scent" (ch. 34 p. 411) again. It seems that they are never happier than when they're throwing themselves into a useful and interesting task. Overall, their information-gathering adventure is marked by high spirits. Their evening going over shipping manifests is clearly fun for all, as they excitedly lead each other from one clue to the next. Two events--their tiff on the way there and the ambush on the way back--mar the good times, but both leave the relationship stronger than before.

During the ambush, Seregil tells Alec what to do and Alec follows his directives, but the proceedings have more the feeling of one ally giving advice to another than a master commanding his apprentice. In the end, it's up to each of them to fight off his own attackers (with Alec taking on more because of Seregil's injuries). Even after the men are taken care of, Seregil and Alec still have to face the elements, and they rescue each other, holding fast to each other's arms as they roll out of the way of the rockslide. "I don't know how many times a day I can stand to watch you almost die," says Seregil (ch. 36, p. 434).

The argument on the journey up touches on a number of important issues. First, Alec is surprised to learn that Seregil doesn't like the lordly lifestyle any more than he does:

They reined in at last to rest the horses. Pushing back the hood of his cloak, Seregil let out a happy whoop. "By the Four, it's good to be free of Wheel Street again!"
      "You, too?" Alec turned to him in surprise.
      "I can scarcely breathe there anymore!" exclaimed Seregil, shaking his head. (ch. 35, p. 416)

Alec wonders if that's why Seregil never told him about the Wheel Street villa, and finally points out that the final test was kind of jerk move:

"I mean all those weeks we were in the city and you never mentioned it. Not until you could spring it on me as another one of your little tests."
      "Don't tell me you're still mad about that?"
      "I guess I am," muttered Alec. "You do it all the time, you know--not telling me things."
      "Illior's Fingers, all I've done for the last two months is tell you things. I don't think I've ever talked so much in my life!" (ch. 35, p. 416)

As the conversation continues, Seregil admits he wasn't sure about taking Alec on until rather later in their acquaintance than Alec had been led to believe:

"After Wolde!" Alec turned to face him, anger rising again. "You lied to me? All that talk out there on the Downs of Skala, about me being a bard?"
      Seregil shrugged, still not looking up. "I don't know, I guess so. I mean, it sounded good to me at the time, too. But I didn't really know how suitable you were until that burglary in Wolde."
      "What would you have done if I wasn't 'suitable'?"
      "Left you somewhere safe with money in your pocket, and then disappeared. I've done that often enough, with people I've helped. But you were different, and so I didn't do that."
      Alec was surprised by an eerie sense of connection as their eyes met; heat like a gulp of brandy sprang up in his belly and spread out from there.
      "So yes, I lied to you a little at first," Seregil was saying. "Think of how many strangers you've lied to since you hooked up with me. It's the nature of our work." (ch. 35, p. 417)

As the fight ends, Seregil makes a promise:

      "Damn it, Alec, you're as much of a mystery to me as I probably am to you. I keep forgetting how young you are, how different we are... Blundering around the way I do, I seem to end up hurting you without even realizing it."
      "Not so much," Alec mumbled, overcome by this unexpected openness. "It's just that it seems as if--as if you don't trust me."
      Seregil gave a rueful laugh. "Ah, Alec! Rei phörul tös tókun meh brithir, vrí sh'ruit'ya."
      "What's that?"
      Seregil held out his poniard hilt first to Alec. "'Though you thrust a knife at my eyes, I will not flinch,'" he translated. "It's a solemn pledge of trust and I give it to you with all my heart. You can take a stab at me if you want." (ch. 35, p. 418)

Having thus aired their grievances, they emerge stronger than before. Trust will not be an issue between them for the rest of the book (although admittedly there are only a few chapters left).


"I'll be an old man with a beard to my knees before I learn half of what you expect me to know!"
      Seregil gazed out over the sea, a quizzed look on his face. "Oh, I doubt that. I doubt that very much indeed."

For those of you keeping track at home, score one for the "Alec is Aurenfaie" theory.

No wait, two.


- Laura