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Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastards) Mass Market Paperback – July 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Like its roguish protagonists, Lynch's colorful sequel to 2006's The Lies of Locke Lamora is charming, unpredictable and fast on its feet and stands surprisingly well on its own given its convoluted plot. Initially poised to rob the Sinspire, the notoriously thief-proof casino where the penalty for cheating is death, Locke and his partner, Jean, are unwillingly sidetracked into joining and then leading a pirate crew, swindling their way across the sea as they had previously done on land. The cinematic influences on Lynch's fantasy setting are evident, the borrowing is mostly ingenious and the prose frequently enthralls, but tone and pacing suffer from odd inconsistencies. A handful of dark moments clash uncomfortably with the overall devil-may-care atmosphere. Most frustrating of all is the handling of key secondary character Ezri Delmastro, who shines too briefly as an energetic romantic interest for Jean. The ending promises at least one more installment, but fans may be unhappy if the saga strays too far from its amiable roots. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* The science-fiction caper novel constitutes a small genre to begin with (Keith Laumer and Harry Harrison may be its best-known names), but Lynch added something entirely new to it with his debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006). That novel, which told the story of a young boy taken under the wing of a master thief, was set on a distant planet but at a stage in the planet's history roughly equivalent to our own pirate age. Now Locke, the talented boy who became a world-class thief, returns with a caper so big it defies all reasonto penetrate the vault of the Sinspire, the most protected casino on the planet, and take its contents. If the first novel had undercurrents of Oliver Twist, this one is more in the vein of Ocean's Eleven or The Sting: fast paced, colorful, funny, with a fiendishly intricate plot containing plenty of right-angle turns. Locke and his partner, Jean, trade banter like Redford and Newman and work their light-fingered magic with charm and panache. Lynch hasn't merely imagined a far-off world, he's created it, put it all down on paperthe smells, the sounds, the people, the feel of the place. The novel is a virtuoso performance, and sf/fantasy fans will gobble it up, though they'll have to fight with caper novel aficionados for every crumb. Pitt, David --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As this book was written by Scott Lynch, the story could never be that simple, and consequences from the Gentleman Bastards' actions in Camorr come back to bite them. This comes in the form of Maxilan Stragos, the military leader of the City State Tal Verarr that has plans for their unique set of skills. He wants Jean and Locke to "steal" a military ship manned by a group of prisoner sailors they have to free. Their goal is to manufacture an increase in pirate activity near the city by any means necessary, so that Stragos can come to the rescue again and put the uprising down, cementing his power at the same time. Locke and Jean have no way to refuse as Stragos also managed to strategically poison the two of them, and only he has the cure. While this twist is a bit of an abrupt turn, changing the story from a fantasy heist to a swashbuckling sea faring tale, I immensely enjoyed it. The extended cast of characters through their interactions with the pirates were full of fully developed interesting people, that I would have loved to spend even more time with than what was in the book.
Similar to the first book, the author weaves all of the different story fabrics into a beautiful tapestry that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend. However, you should definitely read The Lies of Locke Lamora first.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
It's fun active and full of surprises
Totally recommend this novel