Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies is the second book in the Bastard Gentleman Sequence by Scott Lynch published by Bantam Spectra in August 2007. It’s a 558 page fantasy of sorts about thieving and piracy, or as its description says, “swindlers and swindling.”

This sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora again features Locke, this time only with his friend Jean Tannen, as they venture away from Camorr and into Vel Virazzo and Tal Verrar–countries far away from Camorr and the devastation they left behind of their House of Perelandro, the dubious thirteenth god devoted to thieves.

While Locke and Jean set up an enormous plot to break into an unbreakable vault of the man who runs the Sinspire–a massively profitable gambling house–the war leader, known as the archon, of a country no longer at war has other plans for them. In a twisting and convoluted plot, Locke and Jean end up on a ship on the Sea of Brass, with plans to be pirates of the seas and to stir up trouble in Tal Verrar’s waters. I really don’t want to give away the plot, which is massive, so I’ll leave it at that.

Scott Lynch has done it again. He made me care about something I thought I would never care about–pirates. It was fascinating seeing his spin on naval affairs and new seaworthy plots. He writes almost like his characters act throughout their long-winded schemes. Everything in the beginning of both his novel and Locke and Jean’s plans build slowly only to unwind in an extremely fast-paced and exciting flourish when they near the close. Strings that I was barely aware of at the beginning of the novel came together to make a solid ending to one of the best books I have read all year.

Because, while I adored The Lies of Locke Lamora, I absolutely loved this book. Lynch managed to keep the spirit of his characters while doing something entirely different and still delivering an extremely well-written novel. Red Seas Under Red Skies suffered none of the long-winded feel of The Lies of Locke Lamora, and instead was fast paced and frighteningly interesting all throughout.

The additional characters, pirates and otherwise, in the book really come to life and add depth to Locke and Jean. Although I wanted to see Locke get close to someone besides Jean, the other friendships formed were fantastic. The one thing about the book that was a bit wobbly for me was the romance. Perhaps it was because I devoured the second half of the book in two days, but the romance in that section felt so rushed that it didn’t have time to grow into what was, still, beautiful at the end of the novel. I liked the premise of it, but I think it should have been allowed more time to grow to become what the book claims it as. However, if my only complaint is that I could have read MORE of the romance, I think it still leaves the book sitting pretty.

If you haven’t started the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, I urge you to do so. The Lies of Locke Lamora was thrilling, and Red Seas Under Red Skies is a brilliant addition. I am excited to begin what I can only imagine is another huge adventure in the third Gentleman Bastard novel, The Republic of Thieves.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adam
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 22:51:20

    I liked this book, but I wasn’t quite as thrilled with it as you were. To me there were two major plot arcs in the book, the Sinspire arc and the Pirate arc. I don’t think that the two plots went together very well.

    I don’t know if this is something that Lynch is conscious of when he’s writing, but it seems like he is trying to make his books longer than they really need to be because he’s writing Fantasy and many Fantasy books tend to be 600ish pages. (I think that Peter V. Brett is basically doing the same thing.)

    I think that the heist style of story that Lynch is telling with this series would be much stronger if the books were closer to the 300-350 page range where you could realistically read the book in one sitting. I’m still going to buy the third book eventually, but it’s not my biggest priority right now.

    Final side note, I don’t know if you’ve started listening to the Writing Excuses podcast or not, but they had Lynch on as a guest 2 or 3 weeks ago, it was an entertaining episode.


    • hannahrose42
      Dec 10, 2013 @ 00:09:54

      Ahh yes, the dual plots was a little ambitious, but I felt the piracy took precedence, and that’s why the thieving plot was wrapped up so quickly. I’m not sure if that’s merely a method to make the book longer, but I definitely felt that way about the first book. It was good, but so long winded. These books have taken me about a week on average more than a “regular-length” fantasy book.

      I clearly plan to read #3, but also not for a while. I’ve got some other books planned for post-finals and break, and then next semester I’m taking two novel classes, so this will have to be put on the back burner probably for a few months at least.

      I have started, but I’m nowhere close to caught up. Perhaps I’ll skip ahead and listen to that one while this is still fresh in my mind.


    • Grace
      Dec 14, 2013 @ 14:14:05

      Ha! His books make me stay up way too late at night because I can’t put the down and try to read the in one sitting, and then I’m groggy the next day. They’re best read on weekends and not worknights. 😉


      • hannahrose42
        Dec 14, 2013 @ 23:34:48

        I know exactly what you mean! The ends of his books feel like mad dashes that I want to run through, too!


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