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Luck in the Shadows (Lynn Flewelling, 1996) Study Guide: Chapters 6-7

Summary: Chapter 6 "Alec Earns His Bow"

Micum leads Seregil and Alec to a safe camp through a series of underground tunnels. Over a campfire, Micum and Seregil tell Alec stories about the adventures in which they came by their numerous scars. Micum isn't impressed by Seregil's wooden disk; he conjectures that somebody else must have stolen something more important to rouse the guards. The three decide to lay low anyway, travelling by night. The next day, Micum shows Alec some swordfighting moves, and he and Seregil exposit about the gods (including the "empty god," Seriamaius, whose name is bad luck to say). That night, they steal some horses and they begin to gallop away when suddenly they are attacked by archers. Aiming at the attackers from the trees, Alec hesitates, but eventually proves himself by shooting several with perfect aim. Micum has Alec perform a first-kill ritual where he has to taste his victim's blood to remind him not to take killing lightly.

Summary: Chapter 7 "South to Boersby"

After the ambush, Micum is wounded, and Seregil is in a bad mood. He finally explains what's bothering him: the attackers had all new gear, and he suspects they were only disguised as random bandits. Micum begins to mention "the Overlord's forces," but they will say no more in front of Alec. Once at Boersby, they all take baths, then Seregil disguises himself as an old woman and goes looking for information. Alone with Alec, Micum gives some information about Seregil's history: he's vaguely related to Skalan nobility; at the Rhìminee, where they're currently headed, he was apprenticed to the wizard Nysander, and it didn't work out, but they're still friends. He also says that, though it may not always seem like it, Seregil is loyal to his friends and demands the same. Seregil returns to report that there's a large bounty on Aren Windover's and Alec's heads, and they realize the wooden disk must be valuable. Seregil puts it around his neck for safekeeping. Micum decides to head back and look at one of the areas Seregil saw marked on the map in Mardus's room, while Alec and Seregil head to Rhìminee by ship; Seregil tells him to "ask for Lady Gwethelyn" if they're needed. Upon hearing the name, Micum tells Alec he's in for a treat.

Analysis: Chapters 6-7

Micum matches Seregil on every level: in battle, in intelligence, in espionage skills. With him in the party, Seregil, who has thus far served as an infinitely cool, wise and unattainable role model to Alec, appears more vulnerable than we have seen him yet.

"You never could stand the cold," Micum said, unclasping his cloak. When Seregil moved to shrug it away, Micum stopped him with a stern look and swung it around his shoulders himself.
      "Save your pride for warmer days, you damn fool. The boy and I are bred for it. Your blood's too thin. Come on." (ch. 6 p. 67)

Micum's intimate familiarity with Seregil's quirks underscores their long shared history. The gesture of the cloak is protective, big-brotherly, and Seregil's initial refusal seems to reveal his reluctance to give up the aura of invincibility he has been building up for Alec's benefit. This tension doesn't last long, however, and the three men fall into a comfortable cameraderie. In the company of his no-nonsense, soldierly friend, Seregil begins to show more of the languid, courtly characteristics he draws upon in his bard personas. Both men are well aware of the dynamic, and they playfully emphasize their differences:

"Come on, Seregil, let's show him how it's done."
      "I'm busy," replied Seregil, working on a tricky bit of fingering.
      Moving to stand over him, Micum growled, "Put away that twopenny toy, you tit-sucking coistril, and show me the length of your blade!"
      Seregil laid his harp aside with a sigh. "Dear me, that sounds rather like a challenge--" (ch. 6, p. 82)

The mock fight emphasizes their equality. Though Seregil's fighting style is more "dainty" than Micum's, they are clearly evenly matched, and their skirmish--which Alec watches with "delighted admiration"--ends in a draw.

Just as Alec is observing the relationship between Seregil and Micum, Micum is observing the relationship between Alec and Seregil, and he seems to find it charming. He smiles to watch them excitedly exchange ideas "like two hounds on a fresh scent" (ch. 7, p. 94). He also makes some vaguely meta remarks on Seregil's behavior: he occasionally breaks in during one of Seregil's Q&A exposition sessions for Alec's benefit, winking and slyly commenting on Seregil's chattiness; later, he comments to Alec on his love of bathing:

"I've seen him fight through fire, blood, starvation, and magic," said Micum, "but deny him a hot bath at the end of it and he fusses like a kept whore." (ch. 7, p. 96)

Micum describes Seregil in effeminate and trivial terms even as he praises his brave toughness. The emphasis on Seregil's feminine qualities that Micum's company provides paves the way for the coming cross-dressing adventure.


- Laura