So you have read a fantasy novel about mighty warriors, kings, queens, dragons and big wars. But have you read a fantasy novel about thieves and heists? If not, then I recommend to you a wonderful book titled The Lies of Locke Lamora. It is the first book to a series of novels written by Scott Lynch, a series known as The Gentlemen Bastards Sequence.
I read The Lies of Locke Lamora last week and I enjoyed every page of it. This week I read its sequel, titled: Red Seas Under Red Skies. As the book's title suggests, this story has something to do with the sea. In fact, Red Seas Under Red Skies differs considerably from its predecessor. Instead of rehashing the elements that gave success to The Lies of Locke Lamora, in this sequel, Scott Lynch explores a new avenue for his story. I admire Lynch's audacity for trying to write something new in a sequel. Firstly, let me provide a synopsis before I begin to share my thoughts about Red Seas Under Red Skies.
In the exotic city of Tal Verrar sits the towering Sinspire, a luxurious gambling house buzzing with high class entertainments. In a decadent venue such as Sinspire you can find people burdened with wealth. Their burdens, however, are about to be relieved by Locke Lamora and Jean Tennan, con man extraordinaire, who stepped into Sinspire with an elaborate plan to reach their hands into its teeming vault of treasury.
Locke and Jean's plan came very close to fruition, but the duo's secret was discovered and subsequently came into the hands of a high power in Tal Verrar, who blackmailed Locke and Jean into taking a dangerous job. Before long, the Gentlemen Bastards find themselves on board a pirate ship, sailing on red seas under red skies.
My thoughts about this book:
Set in the crowding city of Camoor, The Lies of Locke Lamora began The Gentlemen Bastards Sequence with a revenge story. In the series' second installment, Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch takes his readers away from the urban setting, embarking on a sprawling pirate adventure scouting the exotic towns and ocean ports among Sea of Brass.
That is right! Red Seas Under Red Skies is a fantasy pirate adventure. While this book still centres itself around a series of heists, featuring our beloved Locke and Jean pulling off games after games of cons, but the theme of a pirate adventure, one that rarely appears in fantasy novels, is utilized in this book to craft a unique and ripping yarn. In this book, Locke and Jean's journey on Sea of Brass gave readers a taste for the vastness of this fictional world.
In other words, Red Seas Under Red Skies sets its ambition high. Not only does it continue the excellent story that began in The Lies of Locke Lamora, but this sequel also attempts to expand the universe of which these characters dwell, in the process setting up the premises for future installments to this series.
Did this book succeed at what it attempted to do? How does its quality measure up against its predecessor?
I admire Red Seas under Red Skies for its scope and ambition. In this book, Scott Lynch tells an engaging story that is both excellent in its writing as well as its characterizations. The setting in Red Seas under Red Skies reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbeans movies. The worldbuilding in this book is detailed but not cumbersome. Locke and Jean's adventures on a pirate ship came vividly to life under Lynch's beautiful writings, while portrayals for sea towns and ports were depicted with vibrant descriptions that immerse its readers deeply into the exciting world of The Gentlemen Bastards.
Red Seas Under Red Skies excelled at its writings, characterizations, and worldbuilding. Despite these qualities, this book is not flawless. Personally, I prefer The Lies of Locke Lamora than this book. An uneven pacing of the story prevents this sequel from being as great as its predecessor. Red Seas Under Red Skies started off with exciting narratives in the first 150 pages. This book's first act let its readers re-live the excitements that flow in the veins of its predecessor. However, when the book reached its second act, the story's pace slumped, and the chapters moved slowly for the next 200 odd pages. When I was reading this book, boredom was setting in as the story reached its halfway mark. Fortunately, the story picked up its pace after the halfway mark, rapidly gaining momentum in the last 250 pages until the book concluded in a spectacular manner. In my opinion, the plummeting pace in the middle of the story stands as the greatest flaw in Red Seas under Red Skies, while an excellent start and a stunning conclusion pushed this book above the standard as one of the better novels in the fantasy genre.
The Gentlemen Bastards Sequence is an excellent series. Scott Lynch's fictional world, one that resembles the late renaissance, is a beautiful and lively place, inhibited by memorable characters who will live on in your mind even after you close the books. This series began with a stunning debut novel called The Lies of Locke Lamora, and the story continued in its sequel, Red Sea Under Red Skies. While this sequel may not be as great as its predecessor due its uneven pace, but it is nevertheless, still a fine tale with an intriguing start and a spectacular conclusion. I highly recommend this series to fans of the grimdark fantasy genre, especially to those who are fond of novels written by authors such as Robin Hobb and Patrick Rothfuss.
P.S. I wish to compliment the cover for this book. It is as gorgeous as the cover for The Lies of Locke Lamora.