Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch | Book Review

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch | Book ReviewRed Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Also by this author: The Lies Of Locke Lamora, The Republic Of Thieves
Series: Gentleman Bastard #2
Also in this series: The Lies Of Locke Lamora, The Republic Of Thieves
Published by Random House LLC on 2007-07-31
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 558
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

In his highly acclaimed debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch took us on an adrenaline-fueled adventure with a band of daring thieves led by con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora. Now Lynch brings back his outrageous hero for a caper so death-defying, nothing short of a miracle will pull it off. After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can’t rest for long—and are soon back to what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves. This time, however, they have targeted the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the most exclusive and heavily guarded gambling house in the world. Its nine floors attract the wealthiest clientele—and to rise to the top, one must impress with good credit, amusing behavior…and excruciatingly impeccable play. For there is one cardinal rule, enforced by Requin, the house’s cold-blooded master: it is death to cheat at any game at the Sinspire. Brazenly undeterred, Locke and Jean have orchestrated an elaborate plan to lie, trick, and swindle their way up the nine floors…straight to Requin’s teeming vault. Under the cloak of false identities, they meticulously make their climb—until they are closer to the spoils than ever. But someone in Tal Verrar has uncovered the duo’s secret. Someone from their past who has every intention of making the impudent criminals pay for their sins. Now it will take every ounce of cunning to save their mercenary souls. And even that may not be enough.… PRAISE FOR SCOTT LYNCH   “A bright new voice in the fantasy genre.”—George R. R. Martin   Red Seas Under Red Skies   “Lynch hasn’t merely imagined a far-off world, he’s created it, put it all down on paper—the smells, the sounds, the people, the feel of the place. The novel is a virtuoso performance, and sf/fantasy fans will gobble it up.”—Booklist (starred review)   “Red Seas Under Red Skies firmly proves that Scott Lynch isn’t a one-hit wonder. . . . It’ll only be a matter of time before Scott Lynch is mentioned in the same breath as George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson.”—Fantasy Book Critic   “Grand, grandiose, grandiloquent . . . No critic is likely to fault Lynch in his overflowing qualities of inventiveness, audacious draftsmanship, and sympathetic characterization.”—Locus   “The kind of witty romp that reminds you exactly how much fun heroic fantasy is supposed to be.”—SFXThe Lies of Locke Lamora   “Right now, in the full flush of a second reading, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is probably in my top ten favorite books ever. Maybe my top five. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, you should probably read it again.”—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the WindFrom the Hardcover edition.

Reading two books from an epic fantasy series that is not on my review copy TBR in one month feels like a giant indulgence. Yet, Locke Lamora, Jean Tannen and the other Gentleman Bastards are worth the time away from obligation. With each addition to this series I grow more and more convinced that Scott Lynch is an author to watch. I will admit to a feeling of apprehension for Red Seas Under Red Skies, several people told me it was slow and then a few reviews were not entirely favorable. I must be the odd duck out because I think that I loved Red Seas Under Red Skies more than The Lies Of Locke Lamora. This book is not it’s predecessor. It is not the same as the first book in the series. Red Seas Under Red Skies goes in an entirely different direction and I personally cannot help but admire what Lynch has accomplished. These books have added a much needed variety to my reading life and I think that before we go any further you need to pick up The Lies Of Locke Lamora, add variety to your reading life and then come back and talk with me.

Red Seas Under Red Skies picks up where Lynch leaves off in The Lies Of Locke Lamora, and thus it’ll be impossible for me to review without spoiling, so put your spoiler glasses on you are about to learn what happens. Locke is still recovering from defeating the Gray King and from beating the hell out of the bondsmagi, Falconer, and also grieving over Calo, Galdo and Bug when he flees with Jean to Tal Verrar to recover. The two have set their sights on this casino called the Sinspire where it’s pretty much impossible to cheat. The Sinspire is run by this badass named Requin and his assistant Selendri. Locke and Jean end up catching the attention of the Archon of Tal Verrar, Stragos. Stragos gives the two slow acting poison and holds the antidote so they have to obey him. Locke and Jean are instructed to commandeer a pirate ship and stir up trouble. The two have no seafaring experience and are a bit blue around the gills. A fascinating new set of characters are introduced and we get to meet Captain Drakasha, this badass older woman pirate who has two children and basically does not fuck around, if you know what I mean. And her first mate, Ezri, who is also awesome. Locke and Jean are totally under the gun, will they be able to pull off their heist AND pull a fast one on Stragos? You’ll need to get your hands on a copy of Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Frankly, Scott Lynch’s second Gentleman Bastards book just happens to solidify my favorite fantasy bromance, that between Locke and Jean. The two go through some pretty rough moments together but work as a perfect unit. It’s gratifying to see them save each other. It’s also gratifying to see Jean get a girlfriend. Let me just say that Jean and his lady love are perfect together. ALSO! Locke does not get to coast on his laurels. Instead, he continues to fail and it’s funny and awesome but also much more interesting than Locke being one of those perfect heroes who always stumbles into the correct answer or the best battle plan.

If you’re reading fantasy for the world building, you will be happy to know that Red Seas Under Red Skies expands upon the world in The Lies Of Locke Lamora. This time we get to see a totally different part. We get to see Tal Verrar. We learn about this awful place ruled by Lady Saljesca, where rich assholes pay for amusements at the disadvantage of the common people. Like, it’s really depressing and awful, but they get what’s coming, at least. Then we get to learn all about the Sinspire, which is so awesome. Basically it is a casino. Each floor is more elite than the one below it and you only get to go up the floors when invited. In the book we get to actually read about Locke and Jean gambling and running the scam. I kind of really loved it.

However. We have not even gone to the best part of Lynch’s world. THE POISON ORCHID. Y’all, the Poison Orchid is the ship that is captained by Drakasha. Those new to the Poison Orchid’s crew are placed on scrub watch meaning they do the worst jobs. I know some reviewers weren’t into this part, but for me it was my favorite. I loved reading abut Locke and Jean at sea. I loved reading about the crew of the Poison Orchid. I loved reading about them sailing the Brass Sea. I loved when they go to Ghostwinds, which reminded me of Tortuga from Pirates of the Caribbean. This bit is what made me like this book better than The Lies Of Locke Lamora, this is where I fell in love with the book. You see, Red Seas Under Red Skies has two of the most interesting strong female non-token characters I have read in epic fantasy in a long time. Ezri and Drakasha had me riveted.

In all, Red Seas Under Red Skies was an awesome follow up to The Lies Of Locke Lamora. It may have had it’s slow spots, but let’s be real, the strong characters and new setting were total assets. I am pretty much in love with this series and I guess I will see all of you again during my review of The Republic Of Thieves, the latest book in Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard sequence.

five-stars
About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. I agree with EVERYTHING YOU SAID HERE!!! Love love love this sequel. I loved the nautical parts, LOVED Drakasha and Ezri, Jean/Ezri (GAH), and the fact that Locke fails pretty spectacularly throughout the book.XD

    And Jean & Locke’s bromance is probably one of my top-three-favorite-relationships-of-all-time, platonic/romantic/or otherwise.

    Have you picked up the third book yet?? I’ll be really interested to read your thoughts on that one, too.
    Nikki recently posted..Top Ten Characters Who Must Never Die, Ever. Or Else.My Profile

  2. I feel ridiculous for commenting on both of these reviews but how can I resist???? I really loved the consequences that Locke and Jean had to work through in Red Seas, since it seems in a lot of series characters get over horrible things way too easily. Seeing how imperfect our favorite scoundrels are but how they work through their troubles was great. Also pears! Also another ending that destroyed me!
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