REVIEW: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 13:00
Posted in category Review

Book CoverLiviania’s review of Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastards, Book 2) by Scott Lynch
Fantasy released by Bantam Spectra 29 July 08

I picked up The Lies of Locke Lamora on a whim, shortly before I left for college last year. It had an alliterative title, shiny pink cover, and the back promised thieves. (Note: No wonder my book shopping habits are bad for my wallet. That’s not strenuous criteria.) The story within was fast-paced, intelligent, and funny, so I eagerly picked up the sequel once it was available in paperback. I only decided to write a review once I saw Shannon C. had reviewed the first.

Locke makes a fabulous main character. He’s got a smart mouth, arrogance, audacity, and a brain that allows him to somehow survive. He’s also got Jean Tannen, a fellow thief and fierce fighter to guard his back. Both were members of the Gentlemen Bastards in Camorr, but now they’re in Tal Verrar and planning a heist at Requin’s Sinspire (think mob-controlled Vegas, in medieval times – yes, it is that awesome.) Unfortunately, one of Requin’s political rivals, the Archon, the military leader, interferes. He wants Locke and Jean to help gain the upper hand on the Priori (like the Senate) by causing a war.  This is where the pirates come in.

This book contains the same wit as the first, though you might not want to repeat some of the lines that are making you laugh to curious onlookers.  Lynch is rather fond of “fuck” and the forms thereof.  On the other hand, Red Seas Under Red Skies showcases Locke and Jean in a very different situation from The Lies of Locke Lamora.  This time they aren’t two steps ahead of all the other plotters; in fact, they’re often two steps behind.  They’re coming up with solutions on the fly to keep their lives and make the score.  I enjoyed getting to see this side of the characters.

There’s also a touch of romance in this one.  I don’t want to say too much about her, but Jean enters a relationship about halfway (or two-thirds of the way) through the book.  The characters have great chemistry and it’s balanced well with Jean’s relationship with Locke. There’s also some great humor with the poor unfortunates who have to room next to the lovebirds.  In other news on the romance front, the end promises that Sabetha will finally appear in the third book.  We’ve been tantalized with hints about Locke’s former comrade and only love for two books, so I cannot wait to see her.

Of course, that’s not my only reason to say I’ll return for the third book.  So far the Gentlemen Bastards is a fast-paced, well-plotted, humorous fantasy.  The books have contained satisfying capers within and intriguing overarching plots involving the Bondsmagi and Sabetha.  The only downside is I have to wait for the third.  How it’s going to top the awesome pirate crew, I don’t know.

liviania.jpgGrade: A-

Read more reviews of the Gentlemen Bastards series by following its tag.

Summary:

Locke Lamora, the erstwhile Thorn of Camorr, and Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever, and after escaping Camorr they decide to head for the richest and most difficult target on the horizon– the city-state of Tal Verrar. And the Sinspire.

The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house . . . exclusive, luxurious, and fiendishly guarded. No thief has ever survived an attempt to rob it. Naturally, Locke plans to take it for a fortune, in his biggest gamble yet.

But this perfect crime may have to wait.

Someone else in Tal Verrar wants the Gentlemen Bastards’ expertise, and they’re not gentle in compelling Locke and Jean to devote their talents to an even more unlikely and suicidal proposition– masquerading as pirates on the high seas. Fine work for a pair of landlubbing thieves barely able to tell one end of a ship from the other!

Locke and Jean find their abiding friendship tested to its very limits in this strange new world of lurching wooden decks, brutal ship-to-ship action, and feuding pirate captains. But not even their sojourn as buccaneers can keep the Gentlemen Bastards from their much-desired reckoning with all the powers that have conspired to interrupt their lives, including the last people in the world any sane person would want to offend… the Bondsmagi of Karthain.

Read an excerpt (click on the widget and keep paging down – you eventually make it to the excerpt).

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