Monday, 8 September 2014

Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch

4 stars

Red Seas Under Red Skies is the 2nd in the Gentleman Bastards sequence, and while the shine hasn't quite worn off yet - this is almost as good as its predecessor - I'm not quite slipping into complete squealing fandom yet either.

Catching up with the remaining Bastards as they try to recover from the horrific outcome of The Lies of Locke Lamora the only way they know how, Red Seas... finds Locke and Jean putting into place an elaborate scheme to rob the greatest gaming-house in Tal Verrar: The Sinspire. But as tends to happen with plans, more than one spanner is thrown into the works - the Bondsmagi are pissed about what happened to the Falconer, assassins keep trying to murder them and now the Archon (sort of the Julius Caesar of Tal Verrar) has decided that they'd do nicely for a job he has in mind. Which is how they find themselves at sea, surrounded by pirates.

I enjoyed spending time in a different place to the one we'd initially been introduced in Lies..., which helped add to the different feel of this book and the switch to being a naval adventure rather than a heist also worked for me, especially as it gave me two new characters to really get behind (Captain Drakasha and Ezri, the two kick ass women who show the Bastards how much better than them they are at pirating). The dialogue sparkled as much as ever, and more of a focus on Jean was also welcome (as he's my favourite).

However, this time around the beginning of the book suffered from several lulls and didn't really take off for me until we got onto the ocean waves, the 'villains' of the piece (or the marks, at least) - Requin of the Sinspire and the Archon - were nowhere as formidable, charismatic or plain entertaining as Barsavi and the Gray King, and a couple of the reveals towards the end felt rushed or a little forced.

Don't get me wrong - I still really enjoyed Red Seas... and I'm sure I'll enjoy the hell out of the rest of the series. It's just not yet had that magic ingredient that really makes me lose it. Fingers crossed that's just because it's waiting for me in the next one.

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