Kathryn's Reviews > Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
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's review
Jan 07, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, books-of-2009
Read in January, 2009

Red Seas continues the strange back and forth timeline that Lies began, jumping from the "here and now" timeline of Lock and Jean working their next, and greatest, heist, to Locke and Jean immediately after the events of Lies. Exiled from Camorr, the only home they've ever known, they take up residence in Tal Verrar. Tal Verrar has complicated politics. There are technically two, but actually three, groups of leaders: The Priori, a ruling council elected from the merchant class, is the head of the city. There is also an Archon, a military leader, and finally Requin, the owner of the Sinspire, the most decadent, exclusive gambling house in the Therin city-states. Requin holds most of the city's weath, because a great deal of the Priori keep their money in his vault. He doesn't pay interest on their funds like a counting-house, but it is a great deal more secure. Not only is the Sinspire's vault inpenatrable, but the penalty for being caught cheating there is death. This does not deter Locke and Jean, who spend two years carefully cheating their way into the most fashionably exclusive circles. They make a small fortune, but that, however, is not their ultimate goal, merely a means to an end. What they really have planned is crazy enough that they just might pull it off--except for the interference of the Bondsmagi. (spoiler alert) Even though they did not actually kill the Falconer of Karthain, his fellow magi took offense to the fact that he has no fingers or a tongue, and has been driven completely insane by the loss of his familiar and the torture he underwent. The Bondsmagi do not to act immediately however, choosing instead to make one show of power and then leave Locke and Jean to stew a little. (end spoiler alert)

On top of that, the Archon, tipped off by the Bondsmagi, embroils them in his own schemes. He's losing popularity with the people of Tal Verrar, and loosing patience with the short sighted way the Priori are running the city. He's planning a coup, and for that he needs Locke and Jean to sail onto the Sea of Brass, raise a pirate navy, and attack Tal Verrar. Basically, he needs a reason for the city to need him, but he also needs an enemy he knows he can beat. In order to secure their cooperation, the Archon slips them a latent poison to which only he has the antidote. Without taking it every two months, Locke and Jean face a slow and painful death.

None too pleased at being forced to abandon the Sinspire game after two years of careful and hard work, they set out to learn the basics--the bare basics, of sailing, under the tutelage of one of the Archon's sailing masters, also poisoned to ensure his cooperation. The plan is to send the sailing master with them, so Locke can appear to give the orders while Caldis, the sailing master, actually runs the ship. Unfortunately they end up getting captured by real pirates on the Sea of Brass. Prisoners at sea, with their two month deadline looming closer and closer, Locke and Jean are in for the the fight of their lives.

* * *
In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch won me over partly because of his detailed descriptions of cooking and food. Well, now he's gone and done it, because he has cats in the sequel:

"It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. I was comfortable, and you dared to move, those jade eyes said. For that you must die. When it became apparent to the cat that it's two or three pounds of mass were not sufficient to break Locke's neck with one mighty snap, it put its paws on his shoulders and began sharing it's drool covered nose with his lips."

The sarcastic remarks fly fast and loose, the profanity continues to impress, and the whole thing just got better because now there is swashbuckling. You can take almost any story, and with the careful application of pirates, make it better.


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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Danielle I hope you enjoy it more than I did! I had the same reaction to Lies of Locke Lamora, but actually couldn't finish Red Seas Under Red Skies. :( I might try again someday, though.

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