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Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies

by Scott Lynch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence (Book 2)

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Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
It took me until halfway through to get into this book, and then I read the second half in one giant gulp. 3 stars for the first half and 5 for the amazing second half averages out to 4 stars. :) ( )
  ElleyOtter | Nov 28, 2017 |
Wow... I though the first book had some emotional moments but this one really stepped up to the mark!

This series is definitely one of my favourites; Scott Lynch's style is awesome, the dialogue is always so good, and I can't help but crave more. ( )
  gordon881 | Nov 20, 2017 |
A bit Robin Hood. A bit Treasure Island. And with a touch of Oliver Twist and just a hint of James Bond. This thoroughly enjoyable fantasy adventure has all the right stuff for my taste in fantasy fiction. The world building is excellent--realistic enough to make sense, detailed enough to explain the situation and character motivations without ever descending into pages of backstory and fictional history. The magic system hangs in the background where it belongs and doesn't dominate the story. The plot is twisty and full of surprises. The characters are believable. The protagonists are likable rogues, even admirable given the fantasy world they are in. And even the minor excursion into romance makes sense. The people involved don't just have the hormonal hots for one another, their mutual attraction is completely understandable. It's a good story.

One thing that may put some people off is that the story deviates from a strictly linear temporal progression of events--something happens in the 'current' timeline, and then the next scene or chapter will skip back in time to shed light on it. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it's all well done.

I can highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy the works of Partick Rothfuss or Brandon Sanderson. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
After breathlessly all but clawing my way through the 500 awesome pages of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, I did something I never, ever do. I tore immediately into its sequel. I did this not because the first novel left me on any kind of crappy cliffhanger -- quite the contrary; every loose end in The Lies of Locke Lamora is well-knotted by novel's end, and the ending is perfectly satisfying, if rather anguished. Had I not known there was a sequel just a click or two away, I might well have moved on to something else entirely, as I do so often, even when the sequel is just a click away. That's what the "want to read" list on GoodReads is for, after all.

But no, this time I kept going. I kept going because I loved the characters -- well, the characters that survive the first novel.* And the memory of the characters who didn't was still poignant, and I wanted to see what the survivors would be like without them.

Red Seas Under Red Skies starts off the way a lot of quality television episodes and films like to start these days. We get dropped into the middle of an arresting and unusual scene, in which our beloved characters are behaving very strangely, clearly under duress, and we are overwhelmed with curiosity as to how things came to that pass. And then everything flashes way back by way of furnishing that information. Knowing from the first novel that Scott Lynch is a writer who is capable of quite intricate plotting, surprises, and character juggling, we relax from the initial shock and watch the story begin rather sedately to unfold.

Actually, scratch the "rather". It's actually very sedate, this sequel. Gone is the whip-smart banter, the hilarity, the infectious audacity of the Gentleman Bastards I fell in love with in the first book. As befits what became of most of the bastards; the survivors are mourning them. Locke is dissolving in self-pity and Jean is losing patience with him. It all threatens to become tedious, until Lynch reminds us that this pair tweaked the noses of perhaps the most powerful secret evil organization of all at the end of the last novel, and that's going to have consequences! But even then, this novel is a very slow burn, especially when contrasted with its predecessor.

This doesn't make it necessarily a bad novel, just a slower and more subtle one (a gambit involving ordering some very specific custom furniture left me scratching my head for a very long time and even now there's part of me saying "Really? That? Really?" It feels quite true to these surviving characters, sobered and made more somber by their huge setbacks last novel. They're sort of zombie versions of themselves for this one: still smart, still talented, still ambitious, but rather lifeless all the same.

Fortunately for us, even Zombie Locke and Zombie Jean are better fantasy heroes than the run of them. Zombie Locke could still go toe to toe with Tyrion Lannister in any battle of wits one cared to name, and Zombie Jean could probably wipe the floor with Westley or Aragorn in single combat. Maybe double combat. They're just not as fun.

But fun isn't the only reason to read a novel; this is a more mature work, less showing off (though there are still some bravura set pieces, like the Amusement War, a living chess game with some nasty consequences for the destitute human pieces who get captured) and more meditation on property and fairness, equality and justice, and the price individuals and societies pay when parties demand and take revenge.

"Here were the richest and freest people in the Therin world, those with positions and money but no political duties to constrict them, gathered together to do what law and custom forbade beyond Saljesca's private fiefdom -- to humiliate and brutalize their lessers however they saw fit, for their own gleeful amusement."

Scenes like that make one long for Locke and Jean to go all kinds of Robin Hood on the upper class's asses, and to a degree we get that. The two mandates of the Thieves' God Locke and Jean are raised to serve are 1. Thieves Prosper and 2. The Rich Remember -- remember that they're vulnerable, that their possessions are just things of which they can be relieved and with the loss of possessions can come loss of power. Our boys did a great job of fulfilling both mandates in the first book, but were at a loss as to what to do with their accumulation of loot until someone else took it away from them. Here, the second mandate takes on a darker and more desperate edge. Once Locke witnesses the Amusement War, all of his careful schemes and cons with Jean are deformed by his righteous anger, something Jean, who did not see the decadent cruelty of unfettered wealth and power at play firsthand, never completely shares (just as earlier he did not entirely share Locke's despair). This tension between the friends, both when it's real and when it's feigned in service of a "job", is something new to the Bastards, and it's not pretty. But it's always, always believable.

All this is not to say that there is no fun to be had here. Locke's and DVD's adventures in sea are exciting as hell! Neither man knows a thing about sailing, and their attempts to fake such would be hilarious, if they didn't have such serious consequences. The new characters met on the Brass Sea are fascinating, unpredictable, and unforgettable. A fierce female sea captain/pirate queen, Zamira, who is as protective of her crew as of her two children who are also aboard, is worthy of her own novel. I would read the hell of a spinoff series about her.

Indeed, once our heroes are shipboard, Red Seas Under Red Skies becomes an entirely different novel -- still dark, but dark in the service of rollicking pirate adventure. And who doesn't like that? Especially rollicking pirate adventure that also passes the Bechdel Test!

But so, I didn't devour it in one or two sittings like I did its predecessor, but I never wanted to set it aside for a different book altogether, either. I just wasn't always in the mood for it, at least not until its glorious seabound second half. So if you take this one up and find yourself yawning, stick it out at least until they weigh anchor. You'll be glad you did.

*Lynch's is very much post-Nedd Stark work. ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
Red Seas Under Red Skies is the sequel to Lynch’s fantasy heist story The Lies of Locke Lamora. While I’d usually suggest reading a series in order, it is possible to start with Red Seas Under Red Skies since the plots of the two books are separate.

Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen are back on their game with plans for a huge new heist. They’ve spent the past two years in the island city state of Tal Verrar, planning a hit on the Sinspire, a world renown casino with equally renown security. Unfortunately, their identities are known and the two will land in trouble they never suspected. I’m not going to say too much, but… pirates!

Red Seas Under Red Skies continues to be a whole lot of fun, even on reread. There’s some lovely bits of new world building in Tel Verrar and the other locations the book takes us. I found the bit of sailor’s lore involving cats to be simply hilarious. Namely: if you don’t bring a cat on board with you, the sea god will be very angry.

There’s some hints as to Locke’s character development since the last book, which’s ending left him understandably shaken and depressed. He also seems to be thinking a lot more about his role as a priest of the Thirteenth and starting to feel twinges of conscience at times. Of course, he continues to be a super fun protagonist to read about.

On the whole, I do prefer The Lies of Locke Lamora between the two. Red Seas Under Red Skies felt like it took forever to come to completion, and even in the last hundred pages it didn’t feel as well tied together as the first book did. The beginning of the novel includes an alternating timeline to show what Locke and Jean were up to after leaving Camorr and arriving at Tel Verrar. The book as a whole felt a bit too slow paced, although thankfully the flashbacks have disappeared by the climax. Then again, my problems with pacing this read through could have been due to me reading it as a group discussion over a period of five weeks.

The second half of Red Seas Under Red Skies does introduce some important female characters. While I enjoyed the Spider from the last book, she wasn’t really a main character. The lady pirates of Red Seas Under Red Skies receive much more page time and are completely awesome. I particularly love Zamira, badass pirate captain mom.

Red Seas Under Red Skies was less heist focused than The Lies of Locke Lamora, but fans of the first should still get enjoyment out of it. Locke and his antics are a delight, and it’s always wonderful to return to the masterful world Lynch has created.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Jun 14, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Scott Lynchprimary authorall editionscalculated
Martini, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Matthew Woodring Stover,
a friendly sail on the horizon.
Non destiti, nunquam desistam.
First words
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.
When you can't cheat the game, you'd best find a means to cheat the players.
I can finger-dance a live cat into a standard deck of fifty-six, and slip it back out at leisure. Other players might complain about the noise, but they'd never spot the source.
"I think piracy's a bit like drinking," said Jean. "You want to stay out all night doing it, you pay the price the next day."
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Book description
Haiku summary
Locke and Jean become
unwilling pirates after
long con goes awry.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553588958, Mass Market Paperback)

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.…

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Wily con artist Locke Lamora has come up with an ingenious scheme targeting Sinspire, a nine-story palace of gambling and all forms of debauchery in the exotic city of Tal Verrar, but somehow the con does not go as planned.

» see all 6 descriptions

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