Nightrunner

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A series of Heroic Fantasy novels by Lynn Flewelling that follows the adventures of two Loveable Rogues and their friends and allies.

A 16-year-old orphan named Alec is imprisoned and tortured for a crime he didn't commit. But just as he's starting to welcome the idea of his inevitable death, he is made to share his cell with the real criminal -- a man named Seregil, who breaks them both out of their prison. Seregil, a spy/thief for hire, recognizes the innate thieving skills Alec possesses, and offers to take him on as his apprentice. Alec accepts, and is immediately drawn into deadly intrigues, an impending war, and a secret society of spies and wizards.

Six books have been published so far. The second book is a sequel to the first, and the remaining are standalone:

  • Luck in the Shadows (1996)
  • Stalking Darkness (1997)
  • Traitor's Moon (1998)
  • Shadows Return (2008)
  • The White Road (2010)
  • Casket of Souls (2012)

Flewelling has also written a spinoff, the Tamír Trilogy, set in the same universe during a different time period.

This series is not to be confused with the more recent Night Runner, which is about vampires.

Tropes used in Nightrunner include:


  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In Stalking Darkness. "Why did they build it so big?" "So that the poisonous humours that can collect do so overhead, and the air down here is good." (Paraphrased, natch.)
  • Action Girl: Beka, Princess Klia and many others.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: It is not the proper investiture but the scene at the end of Hidden Warrior, where the main character declares her name (I am Tamír!) definitely counts. (though she refuses being called "Queen" for a while, following the proper ritual. However, she accepts after being called queen by the ghost of one ancestor of hers.)
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Lerans, the Guardian.
  • Animorphism
  • Annoying Arrows
  • The Archer: Alec
  • Bad Moon Rising: The comet, called a plague star.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The prophecy of the Guardian, the Shaft, the Vanguard, and the Guide
  • Big Brother Mentor: Seregil for Alec
  • Big Damn Kiss: Twice. First short before the climax of Stalking darkness, resolving the long lingering UST, second in Shadows Return just before Alec gets killed.
  • Bi the Way: Seregil, Alec (after he gets over his Dalnan prudery), and a couple minor characters. Appears to be quite normal in Skalan and Aurënfaie society.
  • Black Speech: The language of Plenimar is reminiscent of this.
  • Blood Knight: In Skala they are considered to be Sakor touched. Many characters have mild elements of this trope like Beka, Klia, Myrhini, and even Micum.
  • Blue Eyes: Alec, to underline his innocence despite his aptitude to be a spy. They probably become icy when he gets mad.
  • Cain and Abel: Phoria and Klia may be headed toward this.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Seregil has this as a chronic condition.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Akhendi charm bracelets.
  • The Clan: The various Aurënfaie clans, complete with hats in the form of headscarves.
  • Colonel Badass: Princess Klia, of course. She loves battle and is *very* good at it.
  • Cool Big Sis: Adzriel to Seregil. Beka takes this role for Alec too and it#s implied her little sister Illia looks up to her that way.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Nightrunning as well as being a Watcher cannot afford honourable fights. Seregil manages to instill this fighting philosophy to those he teaches (Alec and Beka).
  • Creepy Child: Sebrahn. He lives off Alec's blood, can cure any illness or injury and even bring people back from death, and kills men just by singing.
  • Cultured Badass: Seregil to a tee. Can fight like a demon and is a well know patron of arts, is well versed in gourmet food and speaks a multitude of languages. He trains Alec to be the same. Also the Scalan nobles and royalty that are in the army. They have the education that befits their status and plenty of badass skills.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It would be easier to list the ones that do not indulge in this. Even high queen type Idrilain can not help herself when two forgers declare their loyalty to her after they had been linked to the Lerans. One person who never snarks is the eternally good natured Nysander.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Tym the thief has a healthy dose of respect and a smidge of loyalty toward Seregil after being defeated by him.
  • Disguised in Drag: Seregil in his Lady Gwethelyn persona is very convincing. Captain Rhal is very taken, Alec also even though he knows that Seregil is a man.
  • The Dragon: Vargûl Ashnazai for Duke Mardus
  • Double Entendre: At one point in the second novel Seregil is asked by Alec why he is heading to a brothel specializing in males for males, after having just spent time in one of a more traditional variety. He replies by saying that "Fowl never tastes as savory when you're hungry for venison." Given that Alec's animal form is a deer...
  • Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): Ylinestra puts Alec (a sixteen year old boy) under a spell and has sex with him while he is under the influence. And yet everyone seems to treat it lightly. Seregil even debates whether he should tease Alec about it. Nysander is annoyed that Ylinestra would use magic on an unwilling subject. Alec is a bit upset, but gets over it in no time.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Well, almost everyone, to a certain extent.
  • Fantastic Racism: Many Aurënfaie consider themselves superior to Tirfaie (humans), in some parts of Aurënen half-breeds are treated with disdain, though this is not true of all clans. Conversely, the Plenimarans prize the Aurënfaie as slaves (and sacrifices for necromantic rites) and conduct slaving raids into Aurënen as well as breeding 'faie slaves much as they would horses. Also the Leran plots are based on the fact that the Skalan royal line has Aurënfaie blood. The Hâzadriëlfaie though take the cake on racism, although it is revealed that this is because they have more dragon blood than other Aurënfaie and can be used for some seriously messed up magic, hence they studiously avoid most other peoples, including other Aurënfaie.
  • Freaky Friday: Seregil and Thero
  • Friend to All Children: Alec all over the place. Micum too has a very soft spot for children, thanks to being a father of five.
  • Functional Magic
  • Gentleman Thief: Seregil
  • God of Evil: Seriamainus. Worshiped with torture and human sacrifice. His eventual goal is to strip the bones of the world.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: Phoria seems to be a mild version of one. She loves war, hates her sister, bullies her weaker siblings, does not listen to perfectly sound advice if it goes against her perceptions. Also seems unable to see the bigger picture and long term consequences.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Slightly undermined. Seregil already HAS an eye on Alec at that point and is very aware of it. Still, him being jealous when a male prostitute gets touchy-feely to Alec is a new one to him. (but then it again takes a good while for him to admit that he IS in love and not just in lust.)
  • Hair of Gold: Alec, accompanying Blue Eyes above
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Alec, half 'faie
  • Happily Married: Micum and Kari
  • Helping Hands: The Dyrmagnos
  • Heroic BSOD: Happens to Seregil after Nysander's death.
  • The High Queen: Gherilain the First, Tamir, Idrilain the Second during the series, Princess Klia also has shades of this.
  • Honor Before Reason: Of all people Seregil throughout almost all of Traitor's moon - granted he acts this way to prove to the Aurefaie that he does have honor, unlike what they think of him and hopes to get his exile lifted - but damn when it includes letting himself being beaten up by a hostile party without even defending himself or returning to face an almost certain death sentence after running away - to do the RIGHT thing and prevent a war - because his honor says so - we really are with Alec and Nyal and all the folks who call Seregil out on it. And they are many.
  • Ho Yay: Lots for Alec and Seregil, before they are upgraded to Official Couple. Also Seregil and Micum.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Alec's mother Iriya a Shaar was murdered by her own brothers for breaking the law and becoming pregnant with a half human child. Alec's father Amasa kills them in revenge later.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Alec and Ylinestra.
  • Incurable Cough of Death
  • Infant Immortality: Both averted early on and later played straight in Stalking Darkness.
  • It's All My Fault: Seregil. Often.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Averted.
  • Love Potion: The enchantment spell Ylinestra uses on Alec in the second book. She also wears at all times a magically alluring perfume. It is enthralling to men and sickening to women.
  • Loveable Rogue: The whole idea behind the series.
  • Lover and Beloved: The relationship between Seregil and Alec. It causes Seregil a good amount of angst.
  • MacGuffin: The various items that make up the Helm.
  • Mad Oracle
  • Magic Pants: Averted frequently, much to Alec's embarrassment.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ilar.
  • Master of Disguise: Seregil.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Beka and Nyal.
  • Mind Rape: Vargûl Ashnazai's preferred method of torture.
  • Modest Royalty: Up to Eleven none of the royals that get screen time seem to wear finery.
  • Naive Newcomer: Alec.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Ashnazai is killed, the magical barriers he put in place are weakened.
  • No Sense of Direction: Though being an expert tracker in the wood, Alec tends to get lost in big cities. However, he will learn the way after enough time.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity
  • The Obi-Wan Nysander.
  • Oh My Gods:
    • "Sakor's fist!"
    • "Bilairy's balls!"
    • "By the Maker!"
  • Old Retainer: Runcer, Seregil's butler counts. Also Lady Kassarie's servants.
  • Older Than They Look / Really Seven Hundred Years Old: The 'faie, and wizards.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Our Elves Are Better: The Aurënfaie are typically beautiful, live for several hundred years, and were the first beings to possess magic. However, Flewelling herself has expressed distaste for stereotypical elves. Thus, while the Aurënfaie are an entire race of Pretty Boys and Beautiful Girls, they do not possess such features as pointy ears and can pass for human with little effort. They also have a more diverse culture based on clans, many of which favor interests that in no way resemble "classic" elves. This can surprise some people...

Seregil: You seemed to think we were all great mages or nectar-sipping fairy folk.

Seregil: Hell, I'll kill you for the sheer un of it. Come on, Lord Eater of Shit. Let's get this over with.