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Luck in the Shadows (Lynn Flewelling, 1996) Study Guide: Chapters 11-14

Summary: Chapter 11 "Dark Pursuit"

In Torburn, Alec outlines his plan to head for Rhìminee. Seregil, unhappy and in pain, agrees and gives Alec his weapons, just in case. He advises Alec not to sell the jewelry, since he looks too poor and it will look suspicious. Alec sells their nobles' clothes, buys a cart and commits his first theft, stealing a horse. As they travel, Seregil continues to refuse food, and is plagued by nightmares and hallucinations. He's convinced he sees a tall, creepy figure all in black, but Alec sees nothing. They reach an inn, where Alec gets two rooms for once, locking Seregil in one. Seregils wakes up to find he's sharing a bed with the black creature, who demands back what he has stolen. Seregil attacks it; suddenly there is a pain in his chest and he falls unconscious.

Shifting to Alec's point of view, we find that the creature Seregil attacked was him, and he's torn the wooden disk off Seregil's neck. He discovers the shape of the disk is burned into his palm and Seregil's chest. He wraps the disk in clothes, carries Seregil to the cart, and departs.

Summary: Chapter 12 "Alone"

As they travel, Alec's burn is healing, but Seregil's is getting worse. Alec stops off at a farm and is helped by a kindly old woman. He reaches the seaport within a day, and is impressed by the sight of the ocean. He meets a tinker called Hannock and introduces himself as "Aren Silverleaf." Hannock helps him find his way around and introduces him to Captain Talrien, who agrees to let him work on his boat in exchange for passage to Rhìminee. He reluctantly leaves Seregil with Talrien while he sells his pony and cart, and there's a tense moment where he fears he has entrusted Seregil to press-gangs, but they turn out to be honest after all. Alec cradles Seregil's head and tries to spoon milk into his mouth.

Summary: Chapter 13 "Inquiries Are Made"

Lord Mardus and Vargûl Ashnazai (who, it turns out, is a necromancer) arrive at the inn where Seregil and Alec's fight took place and question the keeper about what happened. Ashnazai collects dried blood from the floor, saying he'll use it to track down the thief. Ashnazai thinks the thief should have died a week ago, and that "No one could survive--" but Mardus thinks their prey is "no ordinary thief." He orders Captain Tildus to burn down the inn.

Summary: Chapter 14 "Sailing South"

On board the ship, Alec divides his time between hard work and tending to Seregil. Captain Talrien compliments his sailorly abilities. When the ship puts in at Cirna, Alec is impressed by the giant flames (tributes to the gods) and by the Aurenfaie horses. He meets a beautiful woman with a sword who makes small talk with him and gives him a valuable coin to drink her health. After she leaves, he finds out she was Klia, the youngest princess of Skala.

Back on board, Alec has the ship surgeon look at Seregil, who's failing fast. Alec begs Talrien to head straight for Rhìminee, offering as payment the jewelry Seregil told him not to sell and the princess's coin. The captain promises to get them there by noon the next day.

The captain makes good on his promise, but once they arrive Alec comes to realize a new setback: he'll have have to make his way through the giant, unfamiliar city with Seregil. Happily, as soon as he steps off the dock, he is greeted by an old man who introduces himself as Nysander.

Analysis: Chapters 11-14

Seregil's attack marks the climax of the "angry" stage of his affliction. When he falls unconscious, Alec completes his transition to role of protector. (This is mixed with some remaining sense of protectee, as Alec wonders, "What will I do if he dies?" (ch. 12, p. 147)) It's unclear which stage is more frightening for Alec. While he no longer has to worry that Seregil will kill him in a nightmarish fit, he is also (as the chapter title indicates) alone in the world; he only has his own wits and survival capability to rely on. This adventure marks a crucial step in Alec's maturation from Seregil's blind follower to his capable ally.

The brief Chapter 13 echoes the prologue eerily, with Mardus and Ashnazai following the trail of the wooden disks with the same dynamic (Mardus cold and evil, Ashnazai using a lot of exclamation points), down to the late introduction of the faithful Captain Tildus and the order to kill all witnesses.

The disk plot--small circular object of great evil power suspended on a necklace is carried by hero who is mysteriously less susceptible to its power than anyone else but who is nonetheless physically and emotionally affected by the its influence, and who falls into a dying state and must be hurried, unconscious, to a safe haven where he can be magically healed--shows a more direct Lord of the Rings influence than the usual fantasy mishmash of wizards and dragons. But Alec is no Glorfindel. His affection and respect for Seregil, combined with his lower-class status, suggest a World War I-batboy type relationship (which is all the more reinforced when we get to Rhìminee and learn that Seregil is referred to there as "Lord") similar to Frodo and Sam's. Indeed, this sequence echoes not only the pre-Rivendell adventures in Fellowship of the Ring but the more serious Mount Doom quest in Return of the King, when Sam carries Frodo who is too weak to complete the journey on his own.

It's unclear whether Alec is attracted to Princess Klia or whether he regards her as an aesthetically pleasing wonder on par with the amazing architectural sights and Aurenfaie animals. He repeatedly describes her as "beautiful," which adjective could go either way.


- Laura