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Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastards)
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on June 17, 2017
For me, this was a let-down after the first Locke Lamora book. Where the first captured and held my attention from the first moment, this one was slow to gain speed, and, once it did, was so full of complexities and plots within plots and characters within characters that I had a hard time staying with it. Once the main characters get on the ship and develop interesting relationships with the interesting characters there, it speeds up and becomes interesting, but it takes half the book to get there. And then, before it's over with again, the reader is forced to return to the mind-exhausting complexity of plots within plots in order to make sense of the ending.

I still give it 4 stars because I love this character and several of the secondary characters, and the good parts were worth wading through the meh parts. However, I will probably not read the third book, as I fear it is likely to be equally or even more complex, and ... I'd rather spend time with characters than plot twists.
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on August 26, 2016
This is the second installment in Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard fantasy series. As with the first book, it is clever, witty, and flamboyant, though a shade less compelling. This time the action encompasses devious gambling and pirate adventures. I almost love these books, but not quite. I think that's because I like the protagonist, Locke Lamora, but don't quite love him. What I like best about Locke is his friendship with Jean. What I like least is that he is largely self-centered (apart from his deep concern for Jean). Which is not to say that Locke is ever less than entertaining. I enjoyed this book, and am eager to read more of the series.

Spoiler warning: I anticipated Ezri's fate rather too early, perhaps half way through the book, although it was executed well. On the other hand, I didn't anticipate the closing few pages of the book, and I liked them very much.
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on March 4, 2014
‘Red Seas Under Red Skies’ by Scott Lynch is the second in his Gentleman Bastard Sequence series, which is currently slated at seven books, with one or two novellas thrown in for good measure. This review has been a long time coming, as I struggle to review books that mean a lot to me - how can my puny little review ever do it justice?

For those who were disappointed at the lack of female characters being a focal point in the first book (where they’re mentioned but not seen, or have background roles throughout), then this novel is full of main and secondary females - a point which caused a reader to contact Scott and he responded to publicly, which gained him quite a bit of interest. Though the famous Sabetha still does not make an appearance within this novel - the only female member of the now very small Gentleman Bastards group of thieves and con artists - we are not disappointed with a variable crowd of strong and intriguing female characters.

Each of Scott’s novels so far is set in a different part of the world, with the first being set in Camorr, we are now in Tal Verrar - right at the edge of civilisation. Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen have moved on to another heist, and this is how the novel opens - after a short prologue of worst yet to come.

Book one, chapter one, opens with a fabulous scene set in a casino, with an intriguing game I hope someone will manage to create somehow, even though I’m not a drinker. The game, Carousel Hazard, is a game for two sets of pairs who work together though each has their own hand of cards. At the end of each hand, the losing team are then dealt an alcoholic vial from the carousel which has its potency masked by juice or otherwise. So while the player’s ability at cards is being tests, they also have to keep their wits about them as they get steadily more intoxicated. Those who miss seeing how Locke manages to get out of the various schemes he gets himself into are quickly sated, and the novel moves on, only to quickly drop us into something worrying. Ahh, of course, the author is Scott Lynch, after all.

The plot within this novel is speedy, as it cuts from the present to the past and then back again. This is an elegant way to show us important scenes rather than writing in a linear fashion and then perhaps having dull chapters, and it’s handled well throughout. The action is of a high quality, and even though part of the novel is set out on the open seas, on a boat - which isn’t really my ‘thing’, per se, it’s engaging and interesting throughout as we see Locke and Jean try to struggle their way through the current mess they’re in.

Again, though, what we’re really here for is the wit, sass and humour throughout. The dialogue is just as perfect as in the first book, and the insults just as sharp and startling.

The characters develop throughout the book, and we can see changes in them after the devastation that befell them in the first. Throughout what is thrown at them within this next instalment we see them under greater strain and how they cope with it, usually together. The bromance between these two friends is almost at Sherlock and John heights, and it’s glorious to read.

The ending of this book however will be the cause of great unrest if you don’t have the third with you, ready to dive into immediately. If you weren’t one of us, please spare a thought for those who read this book in 2007 and then waited until 2013 for the third book. The wait was for good reason, was well worth it, and simply shows how desperate we were to know what happens next to our beloved characters. To those who are just getting into the series now, well, I would say you don’t know how lucky you are, but I bet Scott will leave us many more cliffhangers in the near future, and we can all join together in quiet torture as we wait to see how it is solved.

Because we know it will be worth it.
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on December 31, 2016
The second book in the Gentleman Bastards series does not disappoint. The world of Locke Lamora is distinguished by men and women working side by side no matter the job. Although this was also true in the first book, it becomes more obvious in RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES by virtue of the Bastards going to sea. Women are not only respected as equals aboard ship, they are considered necessary to the good fortunes of captain and crew. The other requirement shipboard is cats. I found this both endearing and practical. Here on our earth with its one moon, we talk about rats abandoning a sinking ship, in Lynch's well developed world with its three moons, a sinking ship might be attributed to its lack of cats.

Scott Lynch writes great characters, fully developed, with very distinct personalities. He doesn't just write strong female characters, he writes strong women who hold their own whether they find themselves in a battle of words or a battle of swords.

I take great pleasure in reading a well written book. In my mind, well written means a story that makes sense from beginning to end, one that is not bogged down in convoluted sentence structure or obscure words meant to seem smart when all they do is obfuscate. RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES flows as if formed in the author's mind and transferred flawlessly to page. There is little, if any, need to go back and re-read that sentence because of a grammatical or spelling flaw. I read a lot of books that require mental editing for them to make sense. The first two installments of Gentleman Bastards is extremely well edited, or it never required the red pencil treatment.

Although you could probably read RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES as a standalone, I would not recommend doing so. You would be depriving yourself of the most pleasurable experience of reading THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, and you would miss out on the background of people, places and things.
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on January 12, 2016
One of the main reasons why I liked this book better than the first book was that author did not spend so much time talking about or explaining the local trade relations, economic implications and crop yields. At times it felt like I was reading a microeconomics book. That is not to say that this book is not complex; far from it, but I feel like it is done in a much better way. They story progresses at a good pace and the characters are done well. I almost didn't read this sequel because I was so exhausted of reading about banking and investing and fronting and trade policy from the first book. But this story does a great job of moving on from the original while still staying true to the essence.
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on March 17, 2017
I read a lot and a good portion of what I pick up, I put down before I finish. I don't waste my time on awkward pros, bad grammar, or flaccid stories and there is a lot of that out there. Scott Lynch is unique and daring in his writing and while this approaches the boundaries of what I am comfortable with as far as graphic violence, it is such a good read that I've just opted to lock it away from kids who read anything they can get there hands on.

Perhaps the most enjoyable characteristic of Lynch's writing is his ability to temper extremes with humor pulling you mercifully from the brink of despair as you grow to love the characters he so masterfully develops. This novel toys with your emotions and sends you on a roller coaster ride of intrigue and mystery as only a couple of moral scoundrels can devise.

I've read this twice already. Love it.
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on May 13, 2017
inferior to the first volume and not as fun. sometimes long winded, and the twists are a bit silly and implausible. the main characters are working a sting, and then suddenly have to go off to a spa, modeled after some proto-roman resort, and the become sea pirates, and then travel back and forth to get an antidote, etcetcetc. it just becomes increasingly long winded and tiresome.
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on February 5, 2016
Scott Lynch has written three books of his opus and it takes a few years for each of them to come out. Most readers would move on pretty quickly from an author like this, but he's got a lot of devoted followers for a reason. His $%(* is that good. He's like that restaurant that you really enjoy, but wait a while to come back to because you want to prolong the memory of the last meal and savor the one coming.

Red Seas Under Red Skies takes place after The Lies of Locke Lamora and the gentlemen bastards are back to their old scheming ways, but this time they end up spending the bulk of pages on ships at sea. Suffice to say, Lynch isn't one to shy away from research. He must have truly immersed himself in the fine art of sailing (or read every Patrick O'Brian novel back to back) because they're more details of sails, bunks, aft and baft, than you can imagine. But the prose does what it's supposed to -- supplant you right next to the protagonists so the brine smells real and the sun blisters down.

The plot is a little more complicated than Lamora and at times it feels like Lynch might lose the thread, but he brings it all together in a way that might not be as rewarding as book #1, but still leaves you wanting more. Above it all, there are great characters, snarky comments, and a bond between Locke and Jean that has us yearning for what happens next.

The Gentlemen Bastards series is quickly becoming one of my go-to faves. It's probably be a lot hard to hold off on reading number 3.
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on May 3, 2017
This sequel to the first book in the series is a real disappointment. The plot is life less and meanders all over the place. It seems strange for an author to switch the main storyline 1/3 of the way through the novel. Worst of all, it was just boring. I won't be reading the third installment of the series. I can't see how it can redeem itself. I loved the first book in the series though. Maybe the author should have quit while he was ahead.
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on August 12, 2017
I LOVE this series "Gentlemen Bastards". This book is well written, I love the adventures of Locke and Jean. I'm waiting for the next book to appear on the series horizen. "The Lies of Locke Lamorra" is the first in the series, this is the second one. I recommend all three, and the subsequent books are sure to not disappoint.
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