* This review does have spoilers
Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.
The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist…
…but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.
Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another.
When I first started this book, I’d heard from a lot of different people that this was their least favourite in the series so far. It hadn’t lived up to the first book, and for them it’d suffered from the “second book syndrome”. I, however, found that Red Seas Under Red Skies did not suffer such an affliction and it was a book I enjoyed way more than the first (The Lies of Locke Lamora was still pretty good too).
What I loved the most about this book was how Scott Lynch was able to take a potentially boring plot line and make it super interesting. Because, for the most part, this book takes place on a ship in the middle of the sea. And as result, there are many moments where there isn’t much happening action-wised. That being said, the plot did manage to hold my attention the whole way through and because the stakes were so high, it made for a compelling read. But what we lacked in action Scott Lynch made up for in character exploration. We got to spend so much time with the characters and by the end of the novel, I really felt like knew and understood them, even the ones that were just introduced.
Just like it did in the first book, Red Seas Under Red Skies follows a two timeline narrative. The first timeline is set in the present where we see Locke and Jean, in the midst of a con. While the other timeline is set 2 years prior, and we observe how it is the guys ended up in Tal Verrar as well as the direct effects of what happened in the previous book. This technique again provided the background history we needed in order for the story to feel complete. And just like the first book, I loved both timelines. There wasn’t one I preferred over the other.
The new settings that Locke and Jean were placed in, resulted in the introduction of two characters that I fell in love with. Zamira and Ezri were two amazing characters that added so much to the story. They were unapologetic, fierce and understanding. There was some feminist vibes going on with them, which I hugely appreciated. My only gripe with the story was that I wished Ezri wasn’t killed off. The scene were she sacrificed herself so upsetting. And speaking of upsetting, the scene when the guy asked where the third companion was, just broke me. I felt so sorry for Jean and I really wished he could’ve of been happy.
Locke and Jean underwent huge development in this book and were again two different people by the end of the novel. In Red Seas Under Red Skies, we got to see sides of Jean that we hadn’t before. This book really opened up his character and I loved getting to know him. Jean was also the person who made Locke question who he was as a person and as a thief. It provided an interesting dynamic, exploring aspects of them we hadn’t yet seen. We also observed just how deep Locke and Jean’s bond is. It added a depth to the story and I can’t wait to see how their friendship continues to grow in the next books.
One thing I was grateful for in this book was how good Scott Lynch was at explaining and presenting all the nautical based jargon. These passages, which could of been complicated and boring, were very easy to follow. I genuinely enjoyed reading them.
So to conclude, this was a great sequel. It expanded and developed on so many things. It allowed me to connect to the characters in a way that I wasn’t able to in the first book.
Red Seas Under Red Skies cemented for me that is now one of my new favourites on-going series. I’m honestly so excited to see where this series is heading.
As always, thanks for reading.