Review: Scott Lynch – Red Seas Under Red Skies

Damnation! Now I have to pray to the Crooked Warden that the next book truly does come out in 2013, or else, I’m afraid, I shall die of suspense. Writing a sequel or a continuation of a story such as The Lies of Locke Lamora is difficult. I fell in love with these characters so much and couldn’t help but fall for the author’s tricks and plot twists. But can one be that awesome twice? One can. If one’s name is Scott Lynch.
I will not spoil the plot of this book but there may be minors spoilers for book 1 that may slip in by necessity.

by Scott Lynch

Published by: Gollancz, 2007
Pages: 584
ISBN: 0575079258
Copy: trade aperback
Series: Gentleman Bastard #2

My rating: 9,5/10

First sentence: Locke Lamora stood on the pier in Tal Verrar with the hot wind of a burning ship at his back and the cold bite of a loaded crossbow’s bolt at his neck.

Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist . . .
. . . but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.
someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another.

I was highly critical of this book before I started. One of the reasons I waited until now was the deep impact Scott Lynch’s debut novel had had on me. I didn’t feel like I could continue right away. I still had to wrap my head around certain events, remember who lived and who died, and how brilliantly Scott Lynch has spun me along. But my yearning for these beloved characters prevailed and I dared to pick this one up.

To say I was as blown away as I was by its predecessor would be a lie. There was a certain element of novelty to Locke Lamora that is not present anymore. A fantasy story where the fate of the entire world does not depend on one young (chosen) boy’s actions. Just a bunch of con men who trick rich bastards out of everything they got. Thank you, Scott Lynch, for giving us more of everything you do best. Locke and Jean are in the middle of another elaborate con as we meet them again. Two years have passed – two years which we catch up on in flashback chapters and which I found to me among the most impressive bits of the book. After an adventure like theirs, you don’t just happily run off to the next city and steal from noblemen. Clearly, Locke had to get over the first book, too.

As the blurb promises, our boys take up piracy in this truly swashbuckling adventure. As things go from worse to worst and everything planned goes utterly wrong, Locke and Jean find themselves on a pirate ship – and everything goes wrong yet again. I just loved how these character got into ever more trouble to the point where I thought, they would never get out of all of it, and then slowly, Locke’s mind (or rather Lynch’s mind) comes up with intricate plans to save their hides.

Crooked Warden, give me a golden line of bullshit, and the wisdom to know when to stop spinning it, he thought.

I could fill entire pages with reasons this was another great book by Scott Lynch. Let me just say that the charm’s in the details. Little things he does make the world come to life. All characters are three-dimensional – even if we don’t get to see a lot of them – the places are vibrant and full of believable people. Plus, the humor was totally up my alley and the relationships between the Gentlemen Bastards bring tears to my eyes. What more can you want?

“Mew,” the kitten retorted, locking gazes with him. It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. I was comfortable, and you dared to move, those jade eyes said. For that you must die.

THE GOOD: A fantastically quick-paced, clever adventure, with quippy dialogue, endearing characters and cons within cons within cons. It’s a heist lover’s dream.
THE BAD: I can’t really find anything negative. Other than the evil sort-of-cliffhanger ending.
THE VERDICT: If you liked the first book, you will enjoy this one just as much. Maybe even more, depending on if you have a soft spot in your heart for pirates and the microcosm of a ship. I loved it.
BONUS: Any journey on a ship requires women and cats – for safety and so as not to piss off the gods.

RATING: 9,5/10  Very close to perfection

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence:

  1. The Lies of Locke Lamora
  2. Red Seas under Red Skes
  3. The Republic of Thieves (2013)

2 thoughts on “Review: Scott Lynch – Red Seas Under Red Skies

  1. Redhead says:

    This is my most favoritest fantasy series, ever. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read and reread both of these books, I just love them to pieces.

    Everytime I read Red Skies, I cackle like a madwoman when I get to my favorite line, it’s when The Archon is trying to convince Locke to sign up for the Navy. . . and Locke responds with the most beautiful, swear word filled sentence I’ve ever read.

    Somewhere on youtube there’s a grainy video of Lynch doing a reading, it’s either from the 3rd book or a related novella, and it is hysterical!


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