Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Series: Gentleman Bastard, #2
Author: Scott Lynch
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Release Date: June 20th, 2007
Source: Borrowed from my local library
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...
If you read my review of The Lies of Locke Lamora over at Page a Vu, you’ll know I have a heart-on for this series. Scott Lynch’s ability to create a complete world, with humor, wit, flawed characters, and high stakes, is like chocolate cake for my soul.
One of the things I love about this installment of the book is that the characters encounter something I (and probably everyone?) have to deal with but which is rarely represented in novels, it seems: multiple things to do, and having to not just budget time and energy to address them, but also put some off indefinitely because of current circumstance. To see these characters struggle under the chaos of life (when we’ve seen them struggle, and prevail, under the oppression of others, and power higher than themselves) is delightful. Not only because it hints are more things to come in future books, but because it opens a chance to dive into the MC’s inner selves. How do they handle shifting priorities? The frustration of the thing they really need to do being pushed off in favor of more immediate, less earth-shattering, things? How do they resolve these? That inevitably leads to their moral priorities- a great glimpse deeper into their characters. It’s less about what they can (and dare) to do (which was book 1, largely), and more about why.
Also, Lynch doesn’t just re-create the formula of book 1 in a different setting. He turned everything I expected to happen, given book 1, on its head…pretty much in the Epilogue alone. So while most sophomore books serve to bridge a gap but aren’t much to write home about, I can confidently say this one is just as delightful as the first. In some ways, more so, because of the whole Jean/Esre thing. But that’s all I can say about that, because Lynch also made me cry.
Read The Lies of Locke Lamora. Then read Red Seas Under Red Skies. If you like witty writing and swashbuckling and piracy and medieval fantasy and capers AND PIRATES you’ll love this one.