Stalking Darkness, by Llyn Flewelling

This book has an amateurish feel like the first in this series (Luck in the Shadows). The first half is rather dull, with little happening, except for the syrupy love story growing between the two male leads (yes male, and considering the pages and pages spent carefully setting it up, the author must be making a statement here). There are brief bursts of action but the protagonists quickly resolve them. The book at this point feels more like a showcase for the characters and setting.

Once the main threat comes in and the real adventure gets going (about the halfway point) the book clips along well. I found the second half of the book hard to put down. The ending is somewhat predictable but satisfying nonetheless, however the denouement goes on far too long with the resolution of the syrupy love story.

The prose is good overall, but the author uses many fantasy cliches. Not much original in the dialogue either. The characters on the "good" side are excellent and well drawn, but the characters on the "bad" side are simply evil with no redeeming qualities. This is not an issue in fantasy but some authors (e.g. George RR Martin) have been making their villains more three dimensional, which makes the conflicts more interesting. The setting itself is terrific, with a rich background and history, and there are less infodumping problems than in the previous book.

I kept thinking this book was rushed through editing. Spice up the beginning and shorten up the ending, cut some of the cliches out of the prose and dialogue, and this book would have been much better.

The book was okay, but if Flewelling comes up with a third in this series, I probably won't bother with it.

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