Saturday, May 5, 2012

Read-Along: Red Seas Under Red Skies, Part 2

This is the second post for my participation in a read-along of Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies, hosted by Dark Cargo, @ohthatashley at SF Signal, My Awful ReviewsLynn’s Book Blog and the Little Red Reviewer.  What this means is...

Read-Along posts discuss a specific portion of Red Seas Under Red Skies and are therefore full of spoilers!  This is also a sequel of The Lies of Locke Lamora, and will be filled with spoilers from that book as well!  I will do a usual review post once the book is complete.

This week’s questions include through Chapter 6 of Red Seas Under Red Skies.  Things are definitely getting more complicated, and I can’t help wondering how Locke and Jean are going to make it out alive!  I am impressed thus far with how they’ve managed to keep their original scheme alive while they run off to become pirates, of all things.

Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them? I worry Locke is suddenly realizing this con might be a bit tougher than he expected.
I’m getting the impression that the Sinspire was once a much less violent place.  I would really like to get a more solid history for Selendri.  Thus far we mostly know only rumors and hints.  I think Locke is right to attempt to win her over, but I think he’s going to have a very hard time of it. 

Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing?  If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?

Yeah, it’s amazing.  I can’t really think of anything I would buy, though.  I am quite happy with my gadgets.

What did you think of  Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no? 

Well, I wouldn't say it’s crueler.  Capa Barsavi ordered so many people tortured to death just out of his own paranoia.  Remember that guy who had glass shards kneaded into his face until he died?  At least the ‘aspirants’ are not deliberately killed.  I think the difference is in intention.  When Capa Barsavi tortured men to death, it was generally because he wanted something.  I’m not saying that excuses anything, but it was a means to an end.  In Salon Corbeau, the Amusement War was the means and the end. 
I think the main thing that made the Amusement War disturbing to me was the dehumanization aspect.  The nobles who attended the War had absolutely no regard for the ‘aspirants’ as human beings.  They were toys to be played with and eventually broken.  Some of their justifications (“We’re giving them charity—they may as well earn it!” or “They’re only here for quick cash, if they weren’t so lazy they’d have a job!”) sounded disturbingly like things one might hear people say about the homeless in our world.  There are many varieties of cruelty in the world, but I think some of the most brutal arise when one group chooses to strip another of their personhood.

The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them.  What do you think he’s so afraid of? 

It seems like there’s a lot of bad blood between the Priori and the military in Val Terrar, a lot of which stems from the Thousand Day War.  I think the Archon just genuinely believes that, as a ruler, he would do better by Val Terrar than the Priori.  What is he afraid of?  In general, I guess I would say the decline of his country and/or his own personal power. 

And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days?  they just almost got poisoned (again!)!

I am really not sure.  They’ve brought up the possibility of one of the Priori.  With what information we have available, that seems the most likely situation.  Maybe the Bondmagi have let others in on Locke’s doings, and some of the Priori are very unhappy about Locke’s employment by the Archon.

Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?
Locke is one hell of a liar and a fraud.  I think he has a shot.  However, his habits of refusing to study and drinking himself silly will certainly not help.  On the pirate topic, I thought it was really funny that they insist on having at least one woman and one cat on board a ship, for luck.  I’m pretty sure our world’s superstition runs the other way!  


  1. Yeah, I think the Archon is afraid of losing power, he also comes across a little bit as though he wants to make some sort of an impression, like he wants to be remembered years after he passes.
    Lynn :D

  2. You make a great point about the Bondsmagi leaking info to Locke's enemies. I'm so busy looking at the present threats that I totally ignored the fact that they could do that! I love the fact that they have to have a cat on board the ship. I can see it leading to absolute chaos.

    I did a search and it isn't as uncommon as I thought...'s_cat

    Silly landlubber that I am.

  3. your comments about Salon Corbeau are spot on perfect. Yes, Capa Barsavi did some terrible things to people, but it was never for fun. on Corbeau, it's for fun, and that is disgusting. I've worked with a number of underprivileged (read: one step away from homeless) people, and whenever someone says "why don't they just get a job", I want to smack them. grrr. Locke really needs to go back there, just to burn the place to the ground.

    being another landlubber, I wonder who is crazy enough to keep a cat on a ship? And Maybe Locke can pick up some alchemical dramamine next time he's at the Artificer's Crescent, i think he's going ot need it!

  4. Lynn: Yeah, I would agree that he does seem like a man that wants to leave a legacy.

    Genki na Hito: Wow, I had never heard of that! I guess I'm not much of a sailor either. It looks like those Ship's cats were pretty cherished. One of them even has a cat-hammock :).

    Redhead: Yeah, I know Locke can't right all the world's wrongs (he's just one thief, after all!), but I really hope he ends up paying a second, more disastrous visit to Salon Corbeau. It looks like keeping a Ship's Cat has actually been traditional in reality, I never knew! I wonder if they have a dramamine-equivalent in Lynch's world? The alchemists seem to have so many things, and boats are so central to trade, that it seems like they should.

  5. I agree with both you and Andrea about the way that Salon Corbeau relates to our own society. The comments are eerily similar and show just how out-of-touch with reality the nobility there are.

    1. Yeah, I agree. Those nobles were born wealthy and powerful, and probably have had little to no real contact with anyone who isn't wealthy and powerful. In the real world, it seems like it is very easy for people to assume that those who are poor have become so through some personal failing. That way, they can feel assured that poverty is not something that can happen to them, and it's because they're 'better', not just luckier. Maybe in the same way, the nobles in Salon Corbeau think they're better people for having been born into a rich family. In any case, I hope Locke can make the Salon Corbeau nobles remember that they're not invulnerable!

  6. I'm wondering if the woman on board might be Merrain? I'd certainly like to know more about her...

    1. That would be interesting! I'm getting the impression that there's a lot more to her than meets the eye :).

  7. We're of the same mind about the Salon (very similar answer, actually, promised I didn't peak!). I actually say the Amusement War as Lynch's own Hunger Games :)

    1. Yeah, I can definitely see it as a reference to reality TV, like Hunger Games. What's even more sickening is that there are people in our world who more or less emulate the Amusement War. Back when I was in undergrad, I remember hearing about something that was disturbingly similar. (I actually found it on Wikipedia: Thank God they faced some legal repercussions for that, but it's still disgusting that this kind of stuff actually happens.