It really bothered me to give Shadows Return only three stars. I was really looking forward to spending more time with Alec and Seregil in this fourth installment in the Nightrunner series. Early on, Alec and Seregil are sent on a mission by Queen Phoria to retrieve her half-sister Klia in Aurenen. They are ambushed, sold as slaves, and separated. For a good part of the story, Seregil is ill while in captivity and Alec is beaten and experimented on by an alchemist who wants his unique blood and bodily fluids to create a most unusual creature called a rhekaro. Unfortunately, the time in captivity went on far too long and was not very compelling reading. The last 100 pages or so were more interesting with Alec and Seregil’s escape with the rhekaro and another slave, and a far too brief appearance of two of my favorite secondary characters, Micum and Thero.Overall, this novel was disappointing. It lacked the complexity, political intrigue and adventure of Flewelling’s earlier works, and the magic felt overdone and contrived. Still, I am intrigued by the childlike rhekaro and will be looking forward to the next book to see how it changes Alec’s and Seregil’s relationship.