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Luck in the Shadows (Lynn Flewelling, 1996) Study Guide: Chapters 29-32

Summary: Chapter 29 "An Abrupt Change of Scenery"

Nysander and Thero transport into Seregil's cell and perform a spell switching Seregil's and Thero's bodies. Seregil, in Thero's body, transports back to Orëska House with Nysander. With Alec and Micum, they make some plans for capers. That night, Seregil has a nightmare about going after his body and finding a creepy blue eye in its chest, around the location of the scar.

The next day, Seregil gets to see what it's like to be Thero. Nysander's hot young lover Ylinestra attempts to seduce him; when Seregil tells Nysander, he is amused, saying Ylinestra is free to bed whomever she pleases, that she likes virginal young men, and that Seregil ought to keep an eye on Alec.

Summary: Chapter 30 "Down To Business At Last"

Seregil (still in Thero's body), Micum, and Alec set up surveillance outside Alben's. They spot Alben's contact and trail him to a tavern, where he talks to a girl. Micum and Alec continue following him while Seregil tails the girl. Alec follows the guy inside the gates of a villa in the noble quarter, where he overhears an older man disowning his nephew. Shortly thereafter, the nephew meets with Alben's contact (whose name is Marsin), buys the documents off him, and rides off into the night. Alec loses him, but meets back up with Micum outside the gates, who informs him that the viceregent, Lord Barien, has just left the house. Alec realizes the document buyer is Lord Barien's nephew, Lord Teukros.

Back at Orëska House, Seregil reports that the contact's girlfriend led him back to Lord Barien's house, where she apparently works as a maid. Nysander sends Wethis to deliver an urgent summons to Lord Teukros as a ploy to find out from his wife where he went. It works: Wethis returns with the information that Lord Teukros has gone to visit Lady Kassarie, a powerful noblewoman.

Summary: Chapter 31 "Kassarie"

That night, Seregil, Alec and Micum make their way to Kassarie's keep, a sort of fort just outside the city, outside of which they bed down for the night. In the morning, they get a magical message from Nysander telling them to come back as soon as possible. They decide to go after they try their plan.

Alec goes to the keep in the guise of Elrid, a messenger looking for Teukros. Kassarie claims Teukros never came and wasn't expected, and expresses worry about his well-being. While she's writing a letter for Alec to take back to his fake employer, Alec hangs around the kitchens and chats nervously with a very friendly serving-girl named Stamie. When Seregil hears about this, he decides Stamie will be their back-door if they ever need one, and they head back home.

Summary: Chapter 32 "Nasty Surprises"

Seregil, Alec and Micum arrive back in Rhìminee to be greeted with the news that Lord Barien is dead. Nysander informs them he was found with slit wrists and a signed confession of treason. Vardarus's and Seregil's seals are found under the floorboards in Teukros's house. Seregil's suspicious of everything. Alec points out they can probably get more information from Teukros' servants, who are imprisoned at Red Tower.

Nysander and Seregil (who, recall, is still in Thero's body) go to question the servants, from whom they find out that the only two servants who might have known anything--Marsin and his girlfriend Callia--are mysteriously missing. Meanwhile, Alec and Micum visit Thero (in Seregil's body), arriving in time to see Seregil's release papers are issued. Everyone meets up back at Seregil's for the body re-switching.

Recovering his body, Seregil is alarmed by the mysterious the reappearance of his wooden-disk-markings-shaped scar. He pulls Nysander aside, getting angry when Nysander still refuses to tell him what it is. He finally confesses to going to the Oracle, and Nysander, frightened and angry, demands to know what happened. Seregil tells him everything the Oracle said. The words seem to give Nysander hope. He makes Seregil swear an oath to tell no one else, promising to tell him all about it one day, when he can. Seregil swears and allows him to cover the scar back up. Nysander tells him to watch his own back and Alec's. Seregil asks if Nysander is the Guardian the Oracle spoke of, and Nysander confirms. After Seregil leaves, Nysander is relieved: he almost had to kill Seregil for knowing too much.

Analysis: Chapters 29-32

Seregil and Thero have always had a rocky relationship; Seregil finds Thero humorless and dull, and Thero finds Seregil trivial and annoying. The body-switching plot makes Seregil and Thero intimate in a way they both protest they never wanted to be.

Overall, Seregil reflected, the habitation of another person's body was nothing to be taken lightly. In fact, there was something rather obscene about it; he couldn't scratch without feeling like he was taking liberties, and trips to the privy were decidedly disquieting. It was, he concluded, rather like being forced into bed with a lover you didn't fancy. (ch. 30, p. 370)

Seregil quickly accepts the situation as a necessary unpleasantness, the price to be paid for early freedom and the chance to take part in the current adventures; his main complaint is that Thero's body isn't well-honed for the kind of physical activity he wants to perform (seeing at night, climbing noiselessly over walls). And, though we see very little of Thero's reaction during the body-switched period, he seems to take it in stride, engaging insults with Seregil in his usual fashion when it's all over.

"By the Four, it's good to get back into my true form! And I've had a bath and clean clothes, too. I'm in your debt, Thero. I just hope you didn't enjoy the soaping up too much."
      "You've little enough to be vain of," Thero shot back tartly, returning to his supper. (ch. 32, p. 395)

Thero's cool, disdainful reaction to the unusual assignment shows both his distaste and his ability to keep his emotions in check and follow orders like a good apprentice. Despite his vaguely put-upon attitude, one can imagine certain aspects of the assignment which would be appealing to Thero, consciously or subconsciously. For one thing, it provides an ideal opportunity for Thero to favorably contrast his own professionalism with Seregil's wildness. It is also important to recall that in chapter 16, Nysander told Alec that Thero envies Seregil.

"He cannot be content that he replaced Seregil, that he is more gifted in magic than Seregil could ever have been. And though he has little use for my affection himself, he cannot bear that Seregil retains it." (ch. 16 p. 202)

If Nysander is correct, becoming Seregil is the culmination of his deeply-ingrained desire.

Another theory that cannot yet be discounted is the possibility that Thero has some kind of evil agenda, and he used his time in Seregil's body to do him some harm. Seregil immediately leaps to this conclusion when he sees that his scar has reappeared. Nysander's theory is that the body-switching magic interfered with the scar-covering magic in some way, although he admits that would be odd. Still, he insists that Thero is trustworthy. Thero remains something of a mystery: is he a bad guy that Nysander is too trusting to find out, or is Seregil's personal dislike blinding him to Thero's good qualities?

Seregil's conversation with Nysander offers a chance for new speculation about the Oracle's predictions. Amusingly, Nysander displays zero interest in the one word that seemed to stick most with Seregil:

"[H]e spoke of Alec being a child of earth and light and said that he was my child now, and I was to be father, brother, friend, and lover to him."
      He paused, but the wizard simply motioned for him to continue. (ch. 32 p. 398-9)

Nysander is much more interested in the reference to Guardian, Vanguard and Shaft. Nysander's confirmation that he is the Guardian leaves room for us to speculate as to the identities of the Vanguard and the Shaft. (The word "shaft" provides an obvious association to Alec, the expert archer, particularly as chapter 34 opens with a description of him in target practice, sending "shaft after shaft" into a target. The inherent phallic imagery could also arguably create a link with Alec, who is almost certainly the most frequently objectified character in the book.)

The body-switch also provides the situation for an offhand comic sequence where Seregil complains about Thero's beard, saying "It itches" and asking Micum to teach him to shave (ch. 29, p. 363). This is the first we've heard that Aurenfaie don't have facial hair; it's another trait which feminizes Seregil, and the Aurenfaie in general. After all, so as far as we know, the only differences between Aurenfaie and men are that Aurenfaie don't have facial hair and they live longer. (They're also more likely to have magic powers, I think, which is arguably another mythically "feminine" quality.) Seregil looks just like a normal human man, only smaller and prettier than average. And he likes men (although we have reason to believe that this isn't a typical trait of Aurenfaie males). The preternaturally feminine, beautiful, mystical qualities of this novel's hero seem to affirm the idea that female writers of male-male romance stories aim to create characters that are like men, but better.

Important Quotations Explained

"Bless the day I dragged you out of that dungeon," laughed Seregil, throwing an arm around Alec's neck as they dashed for the door. (ch. 32, p. 393)

Alec makes his first major contribution to the planning stage of a caper when he suggests questioning Teukros's servants, recalling a remark from his previous night's spying which would indicate that at least one of them is more or less in on the plan. As a result, Seregil 180s from frustrated to giddy. That this is the impetus for Seregil's expression of this particular sentiment suggests that, despite his recent reluctance to let Alec join in the adventures on an equal basis, he truly appreciates Alec as a Watcher ally, and that he wasn't just paying lip service when he agreed with Nysander that accepting the pupil as an equal is "the whole point" of an apprenticeship.


- Laura