Red Seas Under Red Skies: a Review

Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Author: Scott Lynch
Series: Gentleman Bastards (Book 2)
Language: English
Year: 2007

The book starts off two years after the end of the Lies of Locke Lamora, Locke and Jean are in Tal Verrar, running a con on the Sinspire, the biggest gambling house in Tal Verrar. They are gambling their way up from the first floor, and the aim is to reach the top floor and rub elbows with the high and mighty in Tal Verrar, which you do by showing you’re excellent at the gambling. The Sinspire is run by a man named Requin, and he only has one rule: Cheating is Death. Requin also has a huge vault, and has most of the city under his thumb. Because they’re Locke and Jean they are obviously not playing fair, and they have bigger fish to fry than just taking gamblers for a ride. They are running a game on Requin.

They also get the attention, without meaning to, of the Archon, the man who technically rules the city. He rules by default, because he managed to strike down the pirate attacks seven years previously and the city believes they need him. He knows who Locke and Jean really are and he forces them into his service by poisoning them and holding the antidote over their heads. He makes Locke and Jean go to sea to drum up another pirate rebellion, because he is losing his grasp of power now that things are safe and fine.

Locke and Jean board the Red Messenger as Captain and First Mate, with one of the Archon’s men as their sailing master. He actually runs the ship, making it look like Locke and Jean know what they’re doing. Obviously things don’t go so well, and weirdness happens. And while Locke and Jean try to run two games in the city, be pirates, and stay away from people they pissed off in the last book they are also trying to avoid assassins in Tal Verrar and to heal their own slightly strained friendship.

Obviously Locke and Jean are back, and they are pretty much as awesome as they were in the first book. We also get to read more from Jean’s perspective, which I thought was interesting.

There are some new characters that are also pretty awesome:

Zamira Drakasha
The captain of the Poison Orchid. She is a former navy captain and now one of the most notorious pirates operating from the Ghostwinds. She is respected by her crew and beloved by her kids. She is tough and strong and she does not suffer fools. She is also fair and she is willing to help Locke and Jean when she sees it is an advantage to herself.

Ezri Delmastro
The Lieutenant of the Poison Orchid. She’s a short, unforgiving sort of pirate. She runs the crew with an iron hand. She’s a spectacular fighter and she is fiercely loyal to Zamira. I loved her, she was awesome. Also with all the talk of the ladies being important and equal it was kind of nice to see some. The books are pretty guy-centric. So it was cool to see the ladies kicking ass.

The Archon
Or Maxilian Stragos, which is his name. He runs the city of Tal Verrar because he managed to beat back a pirate rebellion, so people flocked to him in an uncertain time. He is creepy, awful and mean, and he’s a good antagonist. He’s also arrogant, which makes him even more interesting to take down.

He runs the Sinspire and controls the city’s wealth, since his gambling house is the most visited and his vault the best protected. His creepiness is a bit more insidious and slow. He is ruthless and cruel, and he hates the Archon. Along with the Archon he works as a really good antagonist.

My thoughts
I really liked it. It’s not as shiny and new as the first book, but there is good character development, there’s a new part of the world to explore. It’s written in much the same way as the first one, it throws you into the action, but there are sort of half-chapters where we’re told backstory and you get to find out what Locke and Jean have been up to the two years leading up to this book. The writing is just as good, there are so many plot twists and little clues and revelations, and there is a very cruel ending, I don’t have the third book yet, how dare you end it like that past Scott Lynch. And there is a plot thread in this book that isn’t fully explained so I hope it’s picked up in the third book.