by Lynn Flewelling
Cover Artist: Michael J. Komarck
Review by Mel Jacob
Spectra Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553590081
Date: 24 June 2008 List Price $7.50 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Lynn Flewelling's latest Nightrunner novel Shadows Return throws her heroes, Seregil and Alec, into slavery. Old enemies seek revenge and an alchemist covets the blood of both. Alec, half human and half Hazeldriel faie, carries a rare trait that can cure many ills. Some time in the past the Hazeldriel fled from others and took refuge beyond Ravensfell Pass. The secret carried by their blood has been lost and is never revealed, but they will kill any half-breeds with the trait to protect the race.
Early on Queen Phoria sends Seregil and Alec to fetch her half-sister in Aurenen. The Queen distrusts her sister and the nightrunners. An ambush kills the escort, but the attackers take Seregil and Alec to Plenimar and sell them as slaves. Separated, neither knows the fate of the other.
Made ill by the fetters, ill treatment, and whatever magic his captors used, Seregil takes a long time to recover. Any magic physically sickens him. Eventually he learns his new master is the man who seduced and set in motion the events that led to Seregil's exile from his clan.
Meanwhile, Alec must adjust to captivity. Another slave befriends him and helps him to adapt. However, Alec remains suspicious, especially when the man attempts to seduce him. He worries over Seregil's fate, but has no idea where he might be.
The alchemist who bought Alec begins a purification treatment to remove the taint of Alec's human father. Despite this being a fantasy, the use of lead and mercury in the potions goes counter to human physiology. They have effect and Alec grows more faie-like. Soon the alchemist begins the process to create a creature from Alec's blood and other bodily fluids. The strange creature also requires Alec's blood to survive. It does not eat, but suckles his fingers for blood.
The alchemist begins a series of experiments on the creature. Dissatisfied he hasn't achieved his goal of creating the perfect rhekaro, he ultimately kills it, horrifying Alec. He sets out to create another.
Eventually Alec learns Seregil was also captive, but has escaped. He plans his own escape, hoping to find his lover. Meanwhile, he discovers he can communicate with the rhekaro and names it Sebrahn.
The mistress of gay gothic fantasy, Flewelling, presents a well-developed fantasy world with faei from many clans, wizards, alchemists, and ambitious humans. Love and jealousies abound and drive the story.
Preceding Nightrunner titles include Luck in the Shadows, Stalking Darkness and Traitor Moon. The Shadows Return epilogue sets the scene for the sequel.