Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2) by Scott Lynch

Posted: February 25, 2013 by Arushi in Book Review
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Red Seas Under Red Skies is the second book in the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. I read the books almost back to back and while I do like the first one more, this one is no slouch either.

In the first book we learned about Camorr, about Alchemy, about the Eldren and about Locke and Jean. Now we have no use for most of this knowledge because we find ourselves in Tal Verrar, in the middle of another game.

Tonight is delicate business,” said Drakasha. “Misstepping in Port Prodigal after midnight is like pissing on an angry snake. I need-” 

“Ahem,” said Locke. “Originally, we’re from Camorr.”

“Be on the boat in five minutes.” 

The quote above is not here just because I adore it, but also because it tells so much.  Yes, there is no Camorr in this book, but Lock e and Jean are Camorri and as Locke says, people need to understand, you do not mess with a Camorri and get away with it. That just does not happen. That is what makes this book. The madness of Locke Lamora and the fact that people truly do not understand that he will get his own back, no matter what he has to do get it.

It has been a little more than two years since the events in The Lies of Locke Lamora and Locke and Jean are working their way up the nine floors of the Sinspire – the biggest chance house (casino) in the world to swindle its owner, who also happens to be a mob boss, on par with the likes of Capa Barsavi.

As if that were not enough, the Archon (a military ruler born out of war in a trading nation) of Tal Verrar ‘hires’ them for his own purposes and they cannot refuse. No matter how much they want to. Oh and he also knows exactly who they are – the Bondsmagi are vengeful that way. Plus there are continuous attempts on their lives from an unknown enemy.

In the middle of all of this, the two end up on the pirate ship Poison Orchid, under the command of Captain Drakasha. It is here that Locke has to face more than a few uncomfortable facts about himself. Especially as he watches Jean fall in love.

Jean for his part is still the madly dedicated friend but not blindly. Never blindly. He is the one who rips Locke out of his constant ruts of grief. More aspects of his personality crop up and I cannot help but appreciate more and more the dynamics between them that Lynch has created.

Jean is also the unlikely philosopher. He is a romantic while also being the declared bruiser. Some words from him that I loved:

“As for history, we are living in its ruins. And as for biographies, we are living with the consequences of all the decisions ever made in them. I tend not to read them for pleasure. It’s not unlike carefully scrutinizing the map when one has already reached the destination.” 

That whole conversation, between Locke and Jean was brilliant. For the whole thing though, read the book. It pops up when 12% of the book is done.

Still, I missed the Gentleman Bastards. The thrill of watching them lie through their teeth to everyone but each other was so much fun! And this time, well, there was no them. There were two. It is only near the climax of the book that that feeling came back. It had to, because everything was finally falling into place. The pieces were coming together and when the puzzle clicked into together, what a spectacular picture it made.

Still there were moments, where the Gentlemen Bastards shone through in all their glory:

“Crooked Warden,” said Locke, “men are stupid. Protect us from ourselves. If you can’t, let it be quick and painless.” 

“Well said.” Jean took a deep breath. “Crazy part on three?” 

“On three.”

To me the first book was not just Locke or even Locke and Jean, after all, Calo, Galdo and Bug were almost as prominent in their absence as they were in their presence. This book, lacks a few of the layers present in the first one. The timelines do play around but since the past with Father Chains is already known and the boys do not have a history in Tal Verrar, not much can be added.

The parts about what happened after they left Camorr are woven in deftly, yet they are few and far in between. There is also the story of how they have climbled the six floors of the Sinspire and what plans they have laid out in the last two years, yet that zing is missing. The Thorn of Camorr is missing. The other characters are interesting but there are more of the ones you love to hate, than the ones you actually love. There are so few protagonists, so many enemies.

Nonetheless, it is unfair to compare the two books, as they are quite different and both are really really good in their own ways. To see a pirate captain with two little children was fun, especially when the daughter and Locke interacted. I wish there had been more of that. What a hellion Locke could turn that toddler into.

The Gentleman Bastards is a series of the unexpected. Nothing is what it seems and truly, reading these books is an absolute pleasure.

The next book that will be coming out is the prequel called The Bastards and the Knives on May 1st 2013 and the 3rd book in the series, Republic of Thieves,  comes out on September 3rd 2013.

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