Traitor’s Moon – by Lynn Flewelling

Once again, the Nightrunner series is proving to be an okay reading experience, but a challenging one to review – to review meaningfully at least. What I mean is, other than what I’ve already said in my previous posts, I haven’t got much to highlight about its pros and cons. So, let me share what little I have to say on the matter and then we move on to something else.

Title: Traitor’s Moond

Author: Lynn Flewelling

Original Publisher: Spectra Books

Publication Date: 6 July 1999

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 540

Standalone or Series: Nightrunner #3

Synopsis: After their heroic and traumatic feats we’ve seen in Stalking Darkness, Alec and Seregil have spent the past two years far from their adopted homeland, Skala, living a relatively peaceful life (for thieves/spies/adventurers’ standards, at least) and finally enjoying their time together as lovers. But as the war rages on, they are summoned by Queen Idralain, who asks them to help princess Klia on a mission to Aurënen, the very land from which Seregil was exiled in his youth – and where, once again, they’ll find themselves entangled in yet another web of treachery and betrayal.

Analysis: Traitor’s Moon follows multiple points of view, in the same spirit as Stalking Darkness. The author’s writing is, as usual, generally unoffensive: nothing especially stylish or remarkable, but not so bad to get in the way of immersion either.

The novel is nominally the final book of a trilogy, but since Stalking Darkness had already managed to wrap up the main plot, up to its cataclysmatic conclusion, Traitor’s Moon ends up been a mostly independent story, to which the previous novels only function as a background.

The plot features the usual mixture of courtly scheming and swashbuckling adventure, with a new supply of ominous prophecies since the old ones had already played their course. This time, the story takes us away from the familiar land of Skala – I call it “familiar” both because it was the setting of the previous books, and because since the very beginning it looked and felt like the most archetypal fantasy land one could imagine – and has us explore the world of Aurënen, home to the totally-not-elven Aurënfaie. Which ends up being just like you could have expected it: more imbued with magic and esoteric traditions and, on the other hand, stifled by an often hypocritical sense of honour and righteousness.

Perhaps the most interesting consequence of such a journey is that it forces Seregil to face his personal demons, finally digging in that dark and troubled past that had been tormenting him since the very beginning. At the same time, we get to see Alec and Seregil as an established couple, facing new challenges together and supporting each other in a mostly wholesome, if not necessarily perfect, personal dynamic.

That said, one of the most criticised aspects of the book is the fact that, while queer relationships are treated as entirely normal in universe, the author does not seem entirely comfortable with the subject, glossing over their intimate moments much more than she does with any of the straight couples. To be fair, I think such criticism isn’t entirely earned; sure, Flewelling does not indulge much in explicit descriptions of the two, and they’re often designed as “friends” rather than lovers. However, there is really no doubt on the nature of their relationship; since it’s a 1999 book we’re talking about, and seeing as they’re not only sympathetic characters, but even alive at the end of the story , I really cannot complain.

Conclusion: If you’ve read the previous works of the series, Traitor’s Moon comes across as “more of the same”. Which is fine in its own way – at least, I am not really reading this books to be surprised or enlightened, and their familiar predicability is actually part of their appeal.

Content Warning: Death – Torture – Violence – Sexual Content – Bullying – Child Death – Animal Death

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