Red Seas Under Red Skies – Gentleman Bastards #2 – Scott Lynch

red seas red skies


Release date: June 20th, 2007
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 760
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought

In his highly acclaimed debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch took us on an adrenaline-fueled adventure with a band of daring thieves led by con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora. Now Lynch brings back his outrageous hero for a caper so death-defying, nothing short of a miracle will pull it off.

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…


After the wonderful success that was ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’, a book I immediately put on my top shelf with all the other books I loved, I was pretty curious how Lynch would handle the second novel in his Gentleman Bastards series. Though the first book was genius and left us with a lot to wonder at the end, more of the same would honestly be a bit tedious. So I went into this book not knowing what to expect and hoping it would give a different spin to Locke’s story.
Lynch definitely opens with a bang. The prologue throws us in the middle of an action scene that ends with a huge twist, leaving the reader dumbfounded and wanting to know more. It got me hooked and I wanted to know what the hell had happened to get the story to this point.

At the beginning of the story Lynch starts where ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ left off. The Gentleman Bastards have relocated and are nursing their wounds (well, one of them refuses to nurse his wounds and the other is driven insane by this). We get to see another side of Locke and I liked how the ever faithful Jean tried to get them back on track.
From there on we slowly get introduced into the Bastards next scheme. It’s all a bit vague and just as in the first book Lynch keeps you guessing about the details of the plan. The change of location and the scheme itself were refreshing and created some distance from the story in the first book. But as far as the grand overall of things, I wanted something more, something to twists this story around like it hadn’t been twisted before. Something that would make it really interesting. And I definitely got what I wanted. In the middle of his story Lynch puts this big obstacle in his Bastards’ path with no way around it. This brings the Bastards out to sea, trying to pass as pirates. I really liked the way they were hopeless in the beginning and how I could feel a disaster coming long before it actually happened. After their first few busts on the open sea it all accumulates into one big catastrophe and this carried the story into yet another direction.
In this part of the book the story died down a bit in my eyes. Though it was fun to read about the pirates and how the Bastards fare at sea, I missed the cunning and the pacing of the first book.

The writing was just as brilliant as in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ which made this yet again a joy to read. There are few authors who can achieve such a level of intelligent and beautiful writing and that always gives added value to a book. I enjoy Lynch’s prose immensely and the comment I made in my review about the first book, there being too much description sometimes, didn’t bother me at all in this sequel. I don’t know if it was actually less or if I’ve just gotten used to it, but I never had the feeling I just read a page and had no idea what I just read. Which is good, because that was one of my only complaints about the first book.

‘Red Seas Under Red Skies’ has a great, though a bit of a rushed ending. It seems like the middle part of the book dragged on too long because the resolution to everything is crammed into the last 100 pages. We get a major battle, which was exhilarating and extremely fun to read, with that sad touch a serious battle always should give. After that the Bastards rush around to get even with one of their enemies, finish the scheme they started in the beginning and get away. Certainly entertaining enough, but far too rushed in my opinion.

This is a great book, one of the best I’ve read this year, but I don’t think it’s better than ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’. I would place it just below his predecessor. Still, this is a stellar book with some excellent writing and well worth reading if you liked Lies. I’d definitely recommend it to any fantasy fan who likes his thieves cocky, cunning and with a soft spot.


Posted on November 21, 2013, in Scott Lynch and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This is one of my favorite fantasy series. Sure, Red Seas isn’t as strong as Lies, but every time I reread Red Seas I like it more. Get your hands on the third book in the series if you can, Republic of Thieves. It’s a bit of a throwback to the 1st book, yet not anything close to “more of the same”.

    • I love the series too! I just missed the fast pacing of Lies in the middle of Red Seas. But it’s still a top notch Fantasy novel. Republic is waiting on my shelf! I’m going to try and read it before the end of the year ^^

  2. I have to admit that I was hoping for more Lies of Locke Lamora style story, but that’s just because I love thieving and scheming ;-). I agree that Red Seas seemed to be a bit below Lies, but I’m totally willing to give Lynch the benefit of the doubt and keep reading! I hear that he dealt with a fair amount of personal problems after Lies was published, so I’m hoping that once he’s doing better, we’ll get back to the highest quality that Lies led me to expect from him, haha.

    But omg that scene in the market where Jean is eating pears! I was listening on audio and could not stop laughing. I will never look at pears the same way again!

    • I’m really curious how I’ll like ‘The Republic of Thieves’. It’s on my reading list for January. I like the thieving and scheming too! But I was afraid that it wouldn’t bring anything new to the story, that it would just be another version of Lies. Fortunately it wasn’t, though I liked Lies better.

      That scene was indeed hilarious :p
      I was very touched by the scene Scott hinted at in the prologue and that unfolded later on in the book. Locke’s reaction was heartbreaking!

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