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Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies (edition 2008)

by Scott Lynch

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3,4081282,363 (4.07)1 / 217
Title:Red Seas Under Red Skies
Authors:Scott Lynch
Info:Spectra (2008), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 784 pages
Collections:Your library
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Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch


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English (125)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (128)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
What can I say? I loved nearly everything about the first book in the series, and gave it 4 stars instead of 5 mostly because I abhorred the unimaginative and illogical magic system Lynch chose to use (and the fact that the mages are just too damned powerful). Those negatives haven't disappeared, and so all things being equal, 4 stars is really the ceiling for this one.

Unfortunately, all things aren't quite equal. To start with, this book has a metric ton of nautical jargon. While some people might see the enthusiasm needed for such great volumes of shiplife-gobbledygook as a positive, I simply don't. I have no interest in ships and all of the little technical aspects of sailing and piracy. While this book may have focused on such things, the series isn't a pirate-focused series, so the enthusiasm feels entirely out of place and, more importantly, boring and time-wasting.

To be perfectly clear, I'm not criticizing Lynch for wanting pirates and ships for this story, I'm criticizing him for fixating on it nearly to the exclusion of everything else. We get one big heist, fine, I'm okay with that- but where we also got dozens and dozens of smaller thefts and confidence-schemes in the first book to get excited over, here we get boats, hard work, more boats, and face-to-face combat (for which the more interesting protagonist professes very little actual talent with). While none of that is bad per-se, it isn't what I signed up for.

The positives are all (mostly) still there: interesting and easily distinguishable characters that you'll remember for a long time after you're done reading, a setting that gets deeper and more fascinating as time goes on, and a protagonist that, while diminished a bit in this volume, is still clever and insane enough to bring a smile to my face. See my review for the first book for more details there.

So, in the end I'm giving this book 3 stars out of 5, for being half-entertaining and half-frustrating. I still enjoyed it a bit more than the average fantasy novel, but cute and vulgar one-liners, while entertaining, can only do so much to brighten an otherwise tedious experience. I honestly think that the third book will cure what ailments were introduced here, so I'll be continuing with the series. I can only hope that new ones don't come up to replace them when they're gone. ( )
  LysanderMSND | Jan 19, 2019 |
This is the second volume in the series. I was very impressed by the first one, [b:The Lies of Locke Lamora|29588376|The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)|Scott Lynch|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1458646334s/29588376.jpg|2116675], and this one was a little disappointing for me, but I still plan to continue reading the series.

After the end of the first book, Locke and Jean have to leave Camorra for greener and safer pastures. They move to another city state, Tal Verrar, and start there an elaborate scam in one of the casinos, which takes over two years. Tal Verrar is a maritime power, ruled by a military dictator, archon, who is on knives with a group of nobility/merchants, called the Priori. Our protagonists are now pressed into service by one of the factions, are attacked by some mysterious assassins and still have to pull their scam.

As the title suggests, a lot of action takes place in sea, where we meet pirates and learn more about the world. The book still has a lot of great dialogue and some scenes, which were intended to be heart-wrenching, but are much less so than in the first book, at least I hasn’t attach myself emotionally to new characters. Therefore the rating is lower.

What irked me was the (intentional?) anachronisms, if the term can be applied to fantasy: all those crossbows used as guns, carriages as cars and so on. The same goes for the stolen goods at the end, they don’t fit the mediaeval period at all.
( )
  Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
This second book in the Gentlemen Bastards series was something of a letdown, at least in the beginning: having thoroughly enjoyed The Lies of Locke Lamora, I expected to be just as thrilled with Red Seas Under Red Skies, but for the first half of this book it was not so. This second installment takes a while to finally find its legs, and that happens only when Locke and Jean, the surviving members of the Gentlemen Bastards, meet with pirate Zamira Drakasha's crew and the adventure begins in earnest.

Until then, Mr. Lynch's story seems to wander in several directions, as if in search of its identity: the only reason I stayed with it was that I wanted to trust the author on the basis of the first book's strength and innovative storytelling - luckily for me, that trust paid off in the end, even though it was a close call.

One of the book's saving graces comes of course from its main characters: the interplay between Locke and Jean both defines them as persons and expands on the story. Here they are often at odds with each other: the loss of their comrades, Locke's fall into depression and Jean's efforts to carry them both forward until they can recover from that loss, all contribute to a friction that explodes at times into dangerous conflict. Yet their friendship - the bond of kinship that goes well beyond mere association to become true brotherhood - comes out of those pitfalls stronger than ever.

The pirate society - or rather the microcosm aboard the Poison Orchid, the ship where our heroes become full-fledged raiders - is wonderfully described and quite vivid: Drakasha is a memorable character, a pirate captain who is a middle-aged woman and a mother, but at the same time a ruthless brigand and a fair, level-headed commander. Her second Ezri is also a strong female character, but sadly she gets less development than Drakasha, since her function seems to be there merely as Jean's love interest, and she finally shines through only toward the end in a dramatic scene that loses nothing of its potency even as the reader realizes that events were tailored to bring that ending about.

After the shaky beginning I mentioned the plot does gain speed and proceeds toward the end in a satisfactorily adventurous way, but still I feel that it lacks the spirited quality of the first book, that the author somehow felt the pressure to deliver that followed the debut novel in this series and this hampered his style in some way.

Nonetheless, the misgivings I listed are not enough to stop me from going on reading - not in the least because this second book closes with a huge cliffhanger that I can't wait to see resolved...

The rating should read as 3,5 stars. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Dec 25, 2018 |
A fantastic sequel to the Lies of Locke Lamora. Locke and Jean are setting up for a heist two years in the making and, well, things start rapidly spinning out of control. It throws a bunch of stylistically different things in a bucket—a very Jean-Pierre Melville-ian heist set-up, pirates, and multifaceted political maneuvering—and it turns out quite well. I like how Locke is way more aware of his limitations than in the previous book. He's maybe the best as what he does (conning people out of lots of money), but he keeps failing (or half-succeeding) over and over.

Anyway, I'm excited to read the next one. VERY excited. I think at this point, I can safely say this is my favorite of the "new wave" of modern fantasy series, even more than the Kingkiller Chronicles or ASoIaF. ( )
  wordsampersand | Dec 6, 2018 |
3.5 stars for me, a really, really solid follow-up to a wonderful first part. Excited for the last one. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
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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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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