Let’s just get this out of the way straight off the proverbial bat; I am a sucker for a good thief story. It’s why I like the Oceans movies so much, and why I loved Scott Lynch’s first entry in his ‘the Gentleman Bastard’ series. Lynch returned after ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ with ‘Red Seas Under Red Skies’ and kept us tied to our ... wherever we were reading with this book, and made us once again love and pity our hapless anti-heroes, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen.
This book once again provided us with two seemingly heartless bastards out to get as much money as they can for themselves. However you don’t need to read too far into the book to realize there is a lot more to it than that. They aren’t your normal type of thief.
Locke and Jean are, above all, much much smarter than the average thief. Their plans are grander, their slipups are bigger, and their egos bigger still (at least Locke’s is). More than ever in this book these attributes are evident as they go after one of Lynch’s world’s biggest prizes.
Lynch paints for us a picture of brilliant artistry, architecture, debauchery and gambling. Money is no object for the majority of the characters in this book, and is simply a tool for the continuation of their personal enjoyment and gratification. Naturally, Locke and Jean want to remove such an inconsequential possession from the wealthy.
But they’re soon caught up by the events from the last book, and are set at the feet of someone who believes they will be very useful, under their control.
Subsequently the book has Locke and Jean serving three different masters, spinning truths and lies as if they were wool and wreaking bloody havoc across the landscape.
One of the more intriguing aspects of this book was the evolution of Jean Tannen. No longer just the brute and best friend, he develops affections for a woman and begins to set himself apart from Locke. You really get behind Jean and wish for the best, hoping that all will turn out for the good by the end of the book.
This book suffers a little from a very “neat” ending which left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Additionally, the villains of the story were simply too adequately smart and one step ahead. For what reason, maybe we’ll find out later, but it was frustrating to see the last few scenes of the book play out as they did. It seems that Lynch enjoys toying with his characters, regardless of whether it serves the plot or not. Once again, maybe it will serve the overall plot, but for the moment I feel as if it was unnecessary and flippant.
Lynch writes well, if a little predictably at times and with a fondness for the F word and other obligatory swears. But any detractions that there might be in the book wouldn’t stop me from recommending this series to anyone. If you’ve read the first one, you’ll enjoy this one as well. Red Seas Under Red Skies is a definite must for any fantasy fan who is looking for something away from the sprawling epic.
Review by Joshua S Hill
Tom from Ohio
Not up to par with Lies of Locke Lamora but still worth the read.
7.5/10 from 2 reviews