Published: Gollancz/Orion Books, 2007
Series: Book 2 of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence
**Spoiler Alert: This is the second book of a series, so there will be spoilers of the first book, “The Lies of Locke Lamora”. If you haven’t read the first novel, stop here to avoid spoilers!
However, nothing ever goes quite as simply as the Bastards might hope. Enemies from the past show up to foul their plans, and soon Locke and Jean are persons of interest to the legitimate powers of Tal Verrar. The two of them will have to handle assassins, poisons, pirates, corrupt leaders, and their increasingly distrustful marks, if they hope to maintain their claim that they are ‘richer and cleverer than everybody else.’ ” ~Allie
As I’m sure you know from the recent posts on this blog, I’ve been reading this book along with a number of other bloggers over the last five weeks. Red Seas Under Red Skies is clearly a sequel, so I would not recommend reading it before The Lies of Locke Lamora. Red Seas is less of a stand-alone novel than Lies, and it seems to set up a number of plot points to be resolved in future novels.
Red Seas Under Red Skies begins with Locke and Jean dealing with the ending of The Lies of Locke Lamora, so it is really necessary to have read the first book. Early in the book, the chapters alternate between featuring the story in the present and memories of the past, in the same manner as Lies. However, this technique is dropped partway through the book in favor of a chronologically told story. I thought the alternating chapters worked well in Lies, both in terms of controlling the pace and giving the story more of a context, and I had hoped it would be used to enrich Red Seas in the same manner. I suppose the technique was abandoned here because Locke has no history in Val Terrar. I think it would have been really interesting if Lynch had used this device to contrast the main romantic subplot of this novel against Locke’s history with the still-mysterious Sabetha.
I’m still enjoying Lynch’s world building, and I appreciate the way he’s starting to slowly show more of his world's politics and history. The city of Tal Verrar did not feel quite as developed as Camorr, but then again Tal Verrar is not the sole locale for this story. The Bastards travel much more this time around, and Lynch also ends up spending a lot of time detailing his world's pirate culture. I enjoyed the pirate sections, though the plot twist that resulted in their inclusion in the story seemed a little farfetched. While none of the places felt as vivid to me as Camorr, I was happy to see more of Lynch’s world and its peoples.
The story in Red Seas seemed more convoluted than it was in Lies. Locke and Jean are much more than simple thieves, and they have a tendency to get seriously involved with the power structure of every community they visit. While this definitely makes for an interesting and exciting story, the inclusion of so many different factions with different agendas ended up making the main story seem a little cluttered. Almost everything becomes clear near the end of the novel, but the climax of the story seemed a little late and rushed. There are also a few subplots that are left conspicuously unresolved, which I imagine will be featured in Republic of Thieves, the third novel in the series.
Though the pacing is a little jumpy, there’s plenty of the excitement and humor that made Lies such a fun book to read. There’s also still plenty of violence and profanity, though it seemed consistent with the characters and communities portrayed. I missed Camorr and its people, but there were plenty of colorful new characters. Perhaps I was just feeling a little wary due to the wide sweep of character deaths in Lies, but I found it a little harder to get attached to the characters this time around. However, I really enjoyed the character development of Jean and Locke. They were not able to just shrug off what happened in the previous novel, and I liked seeing how their experiences shaped them. All in all, I had a lot of fun reading Red Seas.
My Rating: 4/5
Red Seas Under Red Skies is a sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, and the first novel is definitely required reading to appreciate the second. Red Seas continues the humor, excitement and adventure that made Lies such fun, and it takes the reader to new and interesting locations and cultures. Some of the plot points seemed a little too farfetched, but I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief. I do wish that alternating past/present chapters could have been used here as effectively as they were in Lies, perhaps to expand upon Locke’s previous love life in conjunction with their present time line’s romance subplot. The pacing seemed a little inconsistent, as well, with a climax that seemed too rushed, given the more sedate pace of most of the rest of the novel. Overall, it's an entertaining continuation of the Gentleman Bastard's story, and I can't wait to see what happens next when Republic of Thieves is published!