Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

 

 Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies

 Series: Gentleman Bastard (#2)

 Author: Scott Lynch

 Genre: high fantasy

 Rating: ★★½

 In short: a great sequel to the inimitable Lies of Locke Lamora. Not as good, but still great.

Spoilers for the first book in the series!

Goodreads: 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. lts 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…

I’m not going to go into detail about what I loved about this book, because that would be just about everything. Just as its prequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies is witty, fast-paced, and pretty much a work of art. But! There are some things that make this a four and a half rather than a five star read.

Scott Lynch has a lot going on in his books. There are several plot threads that are completely tangled (we jump timelines quite a bit) and the reader doesn’t fully understand each thread until the climax when it all just clicks. This book had that. But I felt like the threads here get a bit more confusing than in The Lies of Locke Lamora. Everything seemed a bit more cohesive, perhaps because we never jumped places. If you didn’t like the back-and-forth of the first book, you’ll find this a bit troubling. It’s hard to say what the main storyline of Red Seas really is, because there’s a whole plot web here. Not that that makes it any less enjoyable, but if things had been a bit less muddled it would have been an easier read.

The characters are, as usual, amazing. The new ones especially. A particular pair of badass pirates were gems to read about. Of course you feel the loss of the Sanzas and Bug but you know, what can you do? Cry, that’s what you’ll do. Because Lynch isn’t through with messing with your feelings.

I also loved exploring more parts of the story’s world. Scott Lynch really knows his worldbuilding, let me tell you. And I think I speak for everyone when I say the ending was amazing. It will literally make you want to pick up the next book immediately – that’s what I did.

Maybe it’s a teensy bit of a sophomore slump, but I think that’s only because the first book was so fantastic. A definite must-read for fans, especially because book three introduces that person you’ve been dying to read about. Wink, wink.

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