Red Seas under Red Sails by Scott Lynch (Reread)
Review by Jacqui Slaney
As I mentioned in my review of ‘Lies’ I have had book 3 of the Gentlemen Bastard series waiting to be read for quite a while. However, due to the length of time since reading the first two books I wanted to refresh my memory of my series. Having thoroughly enjoyed ‘Lies’ again on the reread I was full of confidence that I would enjoy this book just as much.
This is the description:
Escaping from the attentions of the Bonds magi Locke Lamora, the erstwhile Thorn of Camorr and Jean Tannen have fled their home city. Taking ship, they arrive in the city-state of Tal Varrar where they are soon planning their most spectacular heist yet; they will take the luxurious gaming house, The Sinspire, for all of its countless riches. No one has ever taken even a single coin from the Sinspire that was not won on the tables or in the other games of chance on offer there. However, as ever, the path of true crime rarely runs smooth and Locke and Jean soon find themselves co-opted into an attempt to bring the pirate fleet of the notorious Zamira Drakasha to justice. Fine work for thieves who do not know one end of galley from another. And all the while the Bonds magi are plotting their very necessary revenge against the one man who believes he has humiliated them and lived; Locke Lamora.
Within a short time of starting ‘Red Seas’ I realised that this book had a completely different feel about it. I had glanced at some reviews, and had been surprised at the mixed comments, but after starting the reread, I remembered how I had felt when I had first read it as well. You feel a slight disappointment that nothing is the same as ‘Lies’, that the fast paced plot with brilliant dialogue is not quite there and most disappointingly the characters of Locke and Jean are not hitting the mark.
I think the trouble was that ‘Lies’ is a tough act to follow. As a first book, it is an amazing piece of work that any established writer would be proud to call theirs and it sets an expectation in the reader that the second book will be even better or at least it is equal. When this expectation is not met, disappointment sets in and so you get the mixed reviews.
I have read many series where the second book is the stronger one, so what you have to do as a reader, is put to one side what you hoped this book 2 would be and enjoy it instead for what it is.
Yes, I admit, that of the two books I much prefer ‘Lie’s but ‘Red Seas’ is an accomplished novel and you still have Locke and Jean. In this story, you see a much more vulnerable Locke as he is recovering from the action in book 1 and still trying to deal with the loss of his other Brothers. This makes for an uncomfortable relationship with Jean for a while, which I feel is one of the things that doesn’t fit well and as you go on, you do agree with Jean and wish that Locke would buck his ideas up.
What ever you feel about the two books, I would defy you to find better world building or detailing of scenes, such as in the Sinspire. These are excellent, and speaking as someone who is trying to write a fantasy novel, I hope that I could create such a world.
There is plenty of action and interesting characters are introduced to both help and hinder Locke and Jean, and by the end of the book, I was over much of my earlier disappointment. This is a worthwhile read, not quite the high of the first but still enjoyable and definitely necessary to read, if you are like me and am now moving onto the third.
8 out of 10