|Red Seas Under Red Skies
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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¡ªand 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¡ªand 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¡ªuntil 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.¡
From the Hardcover edition.
- One good book is far better than two great books...
Even more so, when neither book is good. It's very difficult to satisfy two very different audiences, and in this case, Scott Lynch fails miserably. As a fan of Lies of Locke Lamora, I was excited when I learned about this sequel. Most authors get better with experience, but, unfortunately, there is the exception that proves the rule, where Red Seas over Red Skies is that exception. Lynch makes the following mistakes in this book.
1. He believes he's capable of writing a sea adventure. He is no Patrick O'Brian, Robert Louis Stevenson, or C.S. Forester. Reading up on several nautical terms does not give an author the understanding to do so, and changing them does not make a good story. The old adage, "write what you know" applies here. Lynch didn't follow that rule.
2. Fantasy cliches abound: pirates with hearts of gold, who look like Xena but act like Rowling's Hermione, corrupt military leaders trying to instigate wars in order to secure their ruling position, and thieves who bumble from near-death experience to near-death who survive because the author refuses to end the novel. Stock characters and elements can be fine when you want to make things familiar, but they should not be your entire story!
3. Heroes who survive on the might of strawmen and divine fate to carry them through the plot. In life sometimes you are saved by dumb luck, but no one has the winning streak of Jean and Locke. After three or four times everything becomes contrived and the reader loses all suspense of what may come. When ill befalls our heroes, we know their salvation is only five pages away.
4. The Interludes were a wonderful literary device in Lynch's first novel, but he tries to reach their magic with a similar approach and gives up half-way through the book. The Reminiscences are hit and miss, but they continued to provide much needed depth to this story. The plot in the first book worked so well, because everything was a product of the rich history Lynch created. Characters long dead were the motivations and inspiration for the present events: Father Chains lived on through the Gentleman Bastards and Capa Barsavi's murders survived in the Grey King. There is no parallel in this novel.
I could go on, but let me get to the heart of the problem. I wouldn't mind this book such a disappointment, except Lynch departed in so many ways from what made his first story grand. In Lies, Lynch found his writing voice, which he used abundantly in Red Seas, but this novel lack the focus, grit, and creativity of its predecessor. The last 200 pages of Lies were an easy read, but looking back, those chapters were the most poorly written, and, while he kept that tone throughout this book, he also kept the bad ideas. Lynch needs to find a balance between his witty fast pace writing style, and the careful detail which he crafts his worlds. That was not the case with Red Seas.
- Disappointing sequel
So I finally figured out why this book bothered me so much.
1. The first book was very entertaining and refreshing with humor, swashbuckling adventure with undercurrents of real life and the misery it certainly held for the less fortunate in Locke's world.
2. The second book was such a radical departure from the lynchpins of the first book's success that it just fell flat.
The best way I can quickly summarize how is to point you to the first Pirates of the Carribbean movie and then the third. What a difference between the two. The first was a great surprise and very entertaining. The 3rd? I was just asking myself 'what the hell is going on here' the whole time. It was the same with LIES vs RED SEAS.
If you're not convinced, read the other 2 and 3 star reviews and you will be.
- Not as good as Lies, but a good read.
I think Lynchie suffered from A.D.D. on this one. He started major plot points, and then would either abandon them altogether, or wrap them up spiffily in a few pages. I got the sense that he was working without an outline, or something. At the beginning of the book, we were being setup to witness a huge heist at a gaming establishment in Tal Verrar. All of the signs pointed to this thrilling, movie-worthy plot. Then, suddenly, we were enlisted in the Tal Verrar Navy, and sent off to Pirate country. Very strange. I also hated the dialogue between Locke and Jean and the Pirate officers. Silly banter, resulting in cliched "grudging admiration". I think Lynchie probably worked out the plot for his first book for his entire life, and then fell victim to a kind of sophomore slump here. With all of it's flaws, I did enjoy the book. Lynchie just needs tighter editing in future endeavors. ...more info
- No sophomore slump here!
If you liked The Lies of Locke Lamora you will not be disappointed here. The plot is complex but that's what you expect with these stories. Overall, very nice follow up to a great debut book. Can't wait for the next one. ...more info
- Disappointing Sequel
I was quite disappointed by Scott Lynch's sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora. Admittedly, a lot of my disappointment was the result of how very much I enjoyed the first book.
In a sense, initial books in a series have a bit of an advantage since they typically have a coming-of-age theme to lean on, so The Lies of Locke Lamora was always going to be hard to follow. But not only does Red Seas Under Red Skies fall well short in the character development department, it manages to make the characters less clever, less competent, and less likable in the process.
In addition, the pacing of Red Seas Under Red Skies tends to drag a bit, and when events finally do start to carry emotional impact, the motivations are flat and formulaic. There is an opportunity to explore different aspects of the characters, but it is abandoned in favor of what is starting to feel a bit tired and one-dimensional.
The wrap-up doesn't satisfy any more than the rest of the book, leaving it difficult to recommend Red Seas Under Red Skies as anything but a shaky bridge to what one desperately hopes will be a more compelling future in the third book of the series....more info
- Good. Truly. And yet...
When you set out to write seven books, it turns out you have to find a way to fill seven books. And that's the basic problem with Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second book in Scott Lynch's...septology?
Lynch left himself with a lot to work with from the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora. What is all that Elderglass? How will the bondsmagi try to take their revenge on Locke and Jean? How the heck does that magi stuff work in this world anyway? What has happened to Camorr after their caper's semi-success? Who's going to run the underworld now that the Grey King and Capa Barsavi are both gone? When will we get to find out more about that gal that Locke's pining after?
Rather than answer any of those questions, Lynch gives us two books in one: a pirate-romance novella sandwiched inside Locke and Jean's main caper, an elaborate attempt on the Sinspire, the most opulent den of iniquity in the city-state of Tal Verrar. Characters march on and off stage as if by rote, ideas are dropped almost before they're begun, and multiple machinas are elevated to deus status at various points to keep the plot creaking along.
Fortunately for the reader, Lynch's sarcasm and propulsive prose eventually overbalance what turns out to be basically an 800-page diversion, and the book, despite itself, is pretty enjoyable at that level. So long as you don't expect the larger arc of the Gentleman Bastards to move very far down the track, Red Seas Under Red Skies can be the kind of readable romp that makes for good vacation or airplane material....more info
- A Solid Sequel
I thought The Lies of Locke Lamora was better than Red Skies but I still am looking forward to the next chapter. It will be fun to see where Locke ends up next....more info
- Gentlemen meet Pirates, Ocean's 12 and lots of blood
Great sequel, Mr. Lynch passed the test after writing one of the most fun and complicated plots ever in "The Lies of Locke Lamora". "Red Seas under Red Skies" bring us more of the same with a twist. I just loved the fact that the adventures of Locke and Jean were developed both in a urban enviorement and now in the open seas. Full blown sea battles among pirates, robbing a casino, decieving the beholder of the whole navy of Tal-Verrar, facing the murder plays of the bondsmagi (the scene on the night market was extremely well written and will bring a chill to your bones), falling in love and then mercy killing the girl of your dreams, etc, etc, etc.
YOU WONT BE DISSAPOINTED. This is a great book. YES it's different from the now classic "Lies of Locke Lamora", this one in particular will bring you tons of action in top of the well constructed and complicated plots that Mr. Lynch is known for.
- Seems like a sequence to a 3rd book
This second book seems like a book you could skip and not miss anything, but I'll have to wait until the third book to see if that statement is true. It is a fairly self-contained book with a lot of time spent on pirates, which was a bit unexpected.
It was good, but I'm hoping the third book ads more to the story. ...more info
- Excellent Fantasy
Con artists Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen plan to swindle the renowned gambling house, Sinspire. Tight security makes any attempt futile and cheating breaks the first commandment, which if caught also means break the felon's bones as death is the response to the worst crime anyone can commit.
However, Locke and Jean feel they have a perfect scheme so they are in the city state of Tal Verra completing their final preparations. However, someone knows what the two thieves plot to do and is determined to insure they not fail but are caught. Let the games begin because Locke and Jean will not allow an unknown adversary prevent their latest caper from succeeding.
Locke and Jean are quite the pair as these bold con artists work on a scheme that seems impossible and made even more difficult by their enemy. The fast-paced story line is at its best when the two thieves, their opponent, and the casino staff work towards a final altercation even as the audience expects the antiheroes to succeed (need to read to see if they actually do), but not know how they can pull off the ploy. Although there are well written epic sea battles with pirates, that sidebar feels like an intruder as this fantasy belongs to the scam.
- Worth reading, but somewhat erratic
For those who enjoyed Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, his follow-up book, Red Seas Under Red Skies, will likely be a mixed bag. As other reviewers have commented, it doesn't quite measure up to the first book and the intertwining plots would have been better served had they been done in two novels instead of one. The jumping around in time sequences and locations gets confusing, the resolutions of some of the plot threads are rushed, and the ending is decidedly dissatisfying on a couple of levels, particularly in what amounts to not so much a cliff-hanger as a cliff-tease.
One particular disappointment for me was a great scene involving Jean taking over a gang of street kids and starting to teach them how to be _real_ thieves. It felt like the beginning of something really interesting, plot-wise, but no sooner does it get going than it's summarily abandoned. Very annoying.
These things said, however, Red Seas Under Red Skies is still worth the read. The parts where it works are thoroughly engaging, with individual scenes that are true delights and dialogue that rises to memorable comic brilliance as can be seen in this particular rant of Locke's:
"Have we ever been _less_ in control of our lives than we are at this moment? We can't run away from the archon and his poison, which means we can't just disengage from the Sinspire game. Gods know we can't even see the Bondsmagi lurking, and we've suddenly got assassins coming out of our a******s. Know something? I'd lay even odds that between the people following us and the people hunting us, we've become this city's principal means of employment. Tal Verrar's entire economy is now based on _f*****g_with_us_."
Also on the plus side, I particularly liked how the novel gets into an actually plausible rational for the thieves' theology of the Crooked Warden, i.e. that the role of thieving has a purpose in the grand cosmic scheme of things. I also, unlike some reviewers, actually liked the pirate section of the book more than I liked the on-land con. It's always good when you can tell that an author has done their homework, and Lynch definitely did his on pirates, working in a number of details that really added to the texture and feel of those scenes. Parts of it are pure fantasy, of course - it is a fantasy world after all - but I still appreciate authors who work to make it as real as it can possibly be in that context.
So overall, I do recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy and/or who liked The Lies of Locke Lamora. It's a good if not great read, and there's enough of Locke and Jean in it to keep you going until Lynch's next novel comes out.
- Great follow up novel
This book is a great follow up to "The Lies of Locke Lamora."
Author Scott Lynch drops his two heroes down into a new but no less detailed city for their next adventure. There are plots and dashes of the unexpected, emotion and action. It is a full ride, to say the least.
On occassion, there is so much going on that the characters themselves bemoan the confusion of false faces within false faces. The reader will truly agree.
My only criticism was that the finale seemed rushed. The main plotline is built up for a heist, and it felt forced. After 700 pages, I found myself saying "how is all of this going to wrap up in 60 pages?" Well, it did, but for me, it felt like an afterthought of "oh, we need to wrap this up as well as the character development stuff..."
Nevertheless, this was a fun, rousing adventure, and it is highly recommended!...more info
- Fantastic Story!
Locke Lamora and his pal Jean are now in Tel Verrar hoping to pull off the theft of their dreams. The two of them are thieves. While Locke is the brains, Jean is definitely the brawn. Their goal, to get inside the famed vault of the Sinspire, the richest gaming hall in all of Tel Verrar. They've put two years into this plan finally making it to the fifth level in the Sinspire. After so much hard work and thought, they don't intend to let anything interfere with their plans. Not, that is, until the Archon of Tel Verrar decides they will be the perfect pawns to use to regain his power and gives them a slow-acting poison to ensure their cooperation. As long as they do his bidding, the Archon will give them the antidote--not enough to cure them, only to keep them healthy for a time.
Meanwhile, Locke has already put his plan into action by going to the owner of the Sinspire and telling the man he is being paid to get into the safe. So now, Locke is working for not only this man, but also the Archon.
How are Locke and Jean going to satisfy both masters? Can they? Will they live long enough to do so, or will the poison take effect? Will they remain as puppets of the Archon for the rest of their lives?
RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES is one of those books hard to set down. The action starts on the first page and continues throughout. Of course, plans go awry for Locke and Jean and it's amazing just how quickly they adapt to their new circumstances. Somehow, they always manage to land on their feet. The dialogue is particularly witty in this story and I love the way Jean kept quoting from one of the great writers in their time with his love interest. This story will make you laugh; it will make you cry and it will definitely keep you turning pages. And I definitely plan on picking up a copy of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA and reading it as soon as I possibly can, along with anything else this author writes.
- Good Followup to a Great First Volume
I liked the first volume enough to order this one in hard cover before it came out. The second volume was good although not as strong as its predecessor.
- For Locke fans, this won't disappoint...
Was Red Seas as good as Lies? No...but that only makes it about the second-best book I've read this year.
Red Seas finds Locke and Jean licking their wounds after their battle with the Grey King. They have sailed to Tal Varrar, the Monte Carlo/Las Vegas of Lynch's created world, to escape the mess they left behind in Camorr. After a few months of regrouping (and Jean pulling Locke out of a major funk) the two are back to their old games--this time with their sights set on The Sinspire, a grand tower casino ruled by a ruthless Mafioso-type who kills anyone who he finds cheating in his establishment.
As you would expect, Jean and Locke soon find their neat little plan to cheat the Sinspire goes awry--so awry, in fact, that they find themselves forced to learn how to sail and lead a pirate war.
A large chunk of the book takes place at sea, and the nautical terminology is plentiful. Coming from someone who has absolutely no knowledge of sailing, I found the generous use of terminology to be a little head-clogging, but in all honesty, you could skim over the technicalities and still understand what was happening. I do have to question the benefit of this--after I'm skimming through three or four pages of "Turn that line to the larboard over to the oar mast, and make sure the front sail isn't upsideover from the side-sail..." etc., but it does lend an air of authenticity, so I'll give it that (of course, not knowing anything about sailing, I'm not one to ay how authentic any of it really is!)
The things I loved about Lies were still in this book for me--the masterful, witty dialogue, the many plot twists and turns that were blessedly impossible for me to predict. It doesn't tie up as neatly as Lies; the ending is a definite cliffhanger on multiple fronts. Of course, all that means is I'm chomping at the bit for February!...more info
- The fun ride continues with Locke and Jean
I absolutely loved Scott Lynch's debut novel "The Lies of Locke Lamora", which I thought was one of the best debut fantasy novels in recent years. It was an incredibly fun and fresh book you never wanted to end, and made the subsequent wait for the release of his next novel completely unbearable.
Now in the second novel, "Red Seas Under Red Skies", the fearless thieves, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, return to attempt an even more spectacular heist than last time. A heist that very nearly killed Locke. So will bigger be better, or will Locke and Jean have started something more than they can handle? Well, things don't go as planned for these intrepid and resourceful thieves, and that's is what makes Lynch's novels so much fun.
After the events of the previous novel, Locke and Jean have escaped from Camorr, and traveled to the city of Tal Verrar. Locke is depressed, as he physically and mentally recovers from the brutal bludgeoning he took at the end of "The Lies of Locke Lamora". But thieves being thieves, it isn't long before Locke and Jean select the Sinspire, a famous and very wealthy gambling establishment, as their next target.
During their planning of the heist, a new player emerges who forces Locke and Jean to complete a task suiting his own ends. To successfully accomplish this task, the reluctant Locke and Jean find they must sail the seas posing as pirates. Meanwhile, the Sinspire planning continues, causing them to juggle between their various assumed identities.
Similar to the "The Lies of Locke Lamora", Lynch plays with the narrative structure, though not to the degree of the previous novel. The interludes from the first novel served more as an intrusion as the novel progressed, causing an unnecessary slowing of the pace as the action heated up. The narrative shifts in "Red Seas Under Red Skies" are less intrusiv, making the book flow more readily.
Lynch, clearly, is a wonderful natural storyteller, turning in another breathtaking romp filled with fantastic drama, tragedy and humor. While very good, "Red Seas Under Red Skies" is not as magical as "The Lies of Locke Lamora". But it is utterly unfair to expect Lynch to duplicate the magic of his debut novel. On its own, "Red Seas Under Red Skies" is a fun, sarcastic, immensely humorous and enjoyable three ton beast of a fantasy. I mean, there are pirates, some smartass and profane dialogue, innovative violence, and a killer heist, so what more could you want from a fantasy novel?
For fans of Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora", there is tons to love here, and you won't be disappointed in the effort. Locke and Jean once again charm, and Lynch shows a penchant for juggling many balls at once, and still have everything come together beautifully at the end. I immensely enjoyed the ride, and find myself salivating for the third volume....more info
- Scott Lynch does it again!!
I absolutely loved this book! Our favorite thieves, Locke & Jean, up to their old tricks...and some new ones. Yes, the pirate aspect was unexpected, but it was simply a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing more of Lynch's world and meeting some new and interesting characters. Trust me, if you liked Lies, you'll enjoy this book. I cannot wait for book 3 next spring!...more info