RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES (Gentleman Bastard #2)
Written by Scott Lynch
Published by Gollancz, July 31, 2007
My star rating – 4.5 stars
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 — and 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 — and 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 — until 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… Find it on Goodreads
If you haven’t heard of the Gentleman Bastard series yet, let me quickly convince you that you need this series in your life – this sequel is like Oceans Eleven meets the humour of Deadpool while two men help a Beyonce version of Jack Sparrow on the high seas of piracy…….
Now that I know I have your attention, let me talk a little more about this book. As always, since this is a sequel, don’t read further if you have plans to read the first book as there may be slight spoilers. But before you go, just keep in mind – this is one of my favourite fantasy series of all time!
Locke Lamora is an ass. But he’s soooooo good at it! If you’re on the right side of his brilliance and attitude, it’s actually hilarious! But if you’re on the bad side of things, you won’t have a single clue that he’s been playing you since the beginning – you’ll figure it out once the plan has been fully executed and left completely shocked and dumbfounded. Locke and Jean are expert con men. Raised by a man called Chains as a part of the Gentleman Bastards, these two were trained from a very young age in the art of the con. They can be anyone they want to be. They can be so normal that they’re almost invisible. They have contacts and “friends in high places” that help then get what they need, no matter the difficulty. They’re a fantasy version of Robin Hood…… except the “poor” people that they’re helping is themselves.
Once the shit went down in book one, they needed to get far away from the mess they created. They had some pretty scary people after them! So off they go to Tal Varrar with their sights set on the safe of a gaming house that’s said to be impenetrable. If you’ve read The Lies of Locke Lamora then you know that no mark is impossible. But, along the way their plans have been discovered, and they’re forced to play another key character and convince both marks that they’re out for each other. The plan backfires though and they end up on a ship in the middle of the ocean. Don’t even ask. You need to read it for yourself!
The level of humour and badassery in this book was insane! That’s honestly my favourite part of this series! Locke and Jean are strong, supportive, hilarious, and take no prisoners – not even between themselves. But that’s not all this book is about though. We meet a new cast of characters – female pirates that are just as bad ass as Locke and Jean! Book one was all about the scheming, thievery, tricks, and deception. We still get all that in this book, but the character development was incredible! There is a whole new side to Locke and Jean and I LOVED it! As for the new female characters…….. I couldn’t have loved them any more!
It was that character development that killed my soul though. I never expected the emotional roller coaster that would be this book. I laughed, I smiled, I fist pumped, I jumped for joy, my anxiety ran high, and I sobbed like a heartbroken teenager. There was a story line in this book that captured my heart and then broke it into a million pieces. Honestly, I cried for 2 days. No joke. I’m still not over it.
Even though I loved this book, it wasn’t without its faults. This is a slow burn series that’s all about the details. On one hand I love that in a book! The more details the better! Especially when these details seem inconsequential in the beginning then all come together for an explosive moment of realization. I love the genius of these details but it seems to take longer than normal to read. Many times throughout the book I wondered when it was going to pick up and if all of this really mattered. In the end though – it’s ALL worth it! Have patience and pay attention folks!
The biggest fault that I had with this book though – the dual storyline. While they’re in the middle of planning out a con/heist something happens that brings them into another con/heist. I loved BOTH story lines but I didn’t like that one took away from the other. They were completely separate and I feel like they took away from each other. I didn’t like wondering when we were going to return to the first story line. I also didn’t like that I spent the vast majority of the book wondering if/how these two story lines were going to converge. I don’t know what about this that bothered me so much…. it just felt so isolated and detached.
I really hope that I don’t wait so long to get to the third book in the series. Locke and Jean are two of my favourite characters in fantasy novels ever and I can’t wait to see where they go next and what schemes they pull off!
Until next time, happy reading!