Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch gripped our imagination with his first novel The Lies of Locke Lamora and he’s here to do it again with book two of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Red Seas Under Red Skies. The greatest heist Jean and Locke have ever pulled sets the stage, which is soon joined by time spent on the Brass Sea with pirates all while being manipulated by a military dictator. Red Seas Under Red Skies only affirms what everyone has already come to know about Scott Lynch, namely that his writing is brilliant, his characters engaging and crass, and his worldbuilding is top-notch. Let’s take a look at what he does and how he does it.
Lynch does a wonderful job depthening the detail of his world and once again captivates the reader with his clever and unique writing style. In addition to the main plotline the reader is treated to various flashback chapters that aid in providing context to the present storyline as well as foreshadowing future events in the book. It’s cleverly done and provides the written equivalent of the great reveal of heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job.
But Lynch’s true victory is in the characters. Whether it’s Locke or Jean or the myriad of new characters we come to enjoy; they are all written with a fantastic complexity and realism that makes you care. I found myself chuckling along with Jean after Locke did something particularly foolish or admiring Locke’s never-ending wit as he struggled with new obstacles. I came for the story but stayed for the characters.
As I mentioned, the two remaining Bastards are deep in the biggest heist of their careers. Looking to score a payoff large enough to see them into a comfortable and luxurious early retirement. This involves manipulating their way through the Sinspire, a gambling house that puts all others to shame, all in attempt to win the attention of the master of the Sinspire, Requin. A truly devious man who, while charming in his own roguish way, has a streak of cruelty that hearkens to the most dramatic portrayals of mob bosses.
Things take a turn for the worse though as the two remaining Bastards attract the attention of the Archon of Tel Verrar, a sort of military dictator, named Stragos, and Stragos has his own plans. Plans which involve setting sail to the high seas and meeting with a sort that could be called family to those under the sway of the Crooked Warden. What follows is somewhat of a detour but one that’s become unavoidable due to Stragos’ offer they simply couldn’t refuse.
Red Seas Under Red Skies is a brilliant masterpiece that deserves all the praise heaped on The Lies of Locke Lamora and then some. It is a tale that spans the seas and will draw you in more surely than any of the sea demons you may find hiding in the waters. The Gentleman Bastard Sequence is set to be seven books in length and Red Seas Under Red Skies ends with our “heroes” Locke and Jean in trouble. After an agonizing wait of six years the third book is set to be released this October. Keep an eye out for The Republic of Thieves, out October 8 and 10, 2013.