Red Seas Under Red Skies

REVIEW: Red Seas, Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Audiobook narrated by Michael Page.

This is the second book in the Gentlemen’s Bastard series, the first being The Lies of Locke Lamora, so there may be vague spoilers for the first book.

After barely making it out of Camorr alive, Lock Lamora and Jean Tannen arrive in the city state of Tal Varrar where they are soon planning to take on the legendary gaming house The Sinspire. No-one has ever taken even a single coin from the Sinspire that wasn’t won on the tables or in the other games of chance on offer there but Locke and Jean plan to change that. The course of crime rarely runs smooth and soon Locke and Jean find themselves entangled in the politics of the city and are coerced into setting sail in order to find some pirates

Red Seas, Under Red Skies is almost a book of two halves and I very much enjoyed both of them. The first follows Locke and Jean about two years after the events of The Lies of Locke Lamora as they are putting the final touches to the long con they’ve been pulling. In that half there’s also flashback chapters to see what happened to them in the first few months after they left Camorr. I’m always impressed by the flashbacks in this series. They never bore me and do a good job of actually adding to the characters and their newly changed dynamic as Locke and Jean have been affected by what happened to them in the first book. The second half is the seafaring adventure as they’re forced to learn how to be passable sailors and go searching for pirates to bring back to the city. It’s like the first half is a city book and while the setting is different to where they grew up, Locke, Jean and you as the reader know what they’re up against and how to rig the system. When it becomes a sea/pirate adventure book, that’s when Locke, Jean and the reader are on uncertain ground as no matter how much charisma and smarts they have, there’s things out to sea that you can’t talk your way out of.

It was fun seeing Locke and Jean out of their element when they’re out to see, but really through the flashbacks you see that they haven’t really been 100% themselves since they left Camorr. They relationship has shifted a but and while they still definitely trust and care about each other (don’t think I’ve read about such ride or die best friends like them for a long time) they aren’t always quite on the same wavelength anymore. Locke especially is unsettled and doesn’t always believe in himself and his schemes and it’s interesting to see him doubt himself and work to overcome that.

There’s a lot going on in Red Seas, Under Red Skies with various outside forces having their own schemes that attempt to ensnare Locke and Jean, but I never felt lost or confused when reading it. There are schemes within schemes and it’s fun to see how things unfold and while there’s certainly surprises, when you think back, the groundwork for them was there and pretty much everything was meretriciously planned.

I love the blend of magic and science in this series. You get to see more of Locke’s bag of tricks and how a pack of playing cards can be more than what they seem. Alchemy is the main sort of “magic” but there’s a few instances where mind control and telepathy may come to play, and when they’re out to see there’s clearly some large, deadly and fantastical creatures in the water.

I love the characters, the world, and the whole vibe of Red Seas, Under Red Skies and this series as a whole. It’s a series I want to take my time with as there’s only three books released but even though it’s been a couple of years since I read the first book, I soon found myself immersed in this world again. Locke and Jean’s character development was so good and interesting and the new characters, especially the new lady pirates, were great too. 5/5.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Autumn TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. It’s time for my seasonal TBR! I say seasonal but it’s not like I have any spooky books here, really it’s just ten books I’d like to make a priority over the next few months.

Child Soldier by China Keitetsi
My Uganda read for my Read the World Project. I think this is will be a tough read as it’s a true story but it’s important to learn about these things.

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
I read The Lies of Locke Lamora earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I want to continue on with the series so I don’t forget everything but at the same time I do want to spread the next two books out as I don’t think there’s any news when the fourth book in the Gentleman Bastard series will be out.

Angel Mage by Garth Nix
I actually know nothing about this book and bought it just because it’s by Garth Nix and I love the Old Kingdom series. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s about.

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
I did start this book ages ago, maybe at the beginning of this year, and only got about 30 pages in before putting it down as I wasn’t in the mood for it. I think it should be a quick, fun read even if I find the more teen focussed superhero stories a bit hard to get into to begin with after being so used to reading the comics/watching the films.

An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie
This is my book for Togo in my Read the World Project. I think it’ll be really interesting to see how a Togolese man becomes fascinated by Greenland and his determination to go there.

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
This is the first novel from Madagascar to ever be translated into English and it’s set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter.

Loveless by Alice Oseman
Alice Oseman is a much-loved contemporary UK YA author and Loveless will be the first book of her I’ve read.

Palestine+100 edited by Basma Ghalayini
This is a short story collection which has a range of genres, science-fiction, dystopia, noir and is about what the future of Palestine might look like.

Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi
This will be my Kuwait read for the Read the World Project and is about friendship and protest.

Descendants: Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz
I recently watched and loved all the Descendants films and became slightly obsessed as a lot of the songs got stuck in my head! I went out and got the books and I’m looking forward to revisiting the characters in a different format.

What’s on your TBR over the next few months?