Kelly's Reviews > Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
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Apr 27, 09

bookshelves: fantasy-and-scifi, fiction, wits-and-fools, owned
Read in April, 2009


Although I was prepared to bite my thumb at anyone who had a problem with this book up to about 200 pages in, over the course of the 500 pages after that, I began to slowly, reluctantly and finally in complete exasperation, change my mind.

Scott Lynch begins his novel at the same level of quality as his fabulous first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora. His characters are dealing with the events of the previous novel, in a mostly believable fashion, in a believable time period- its kept from becoming episodic, or his characters from seeming hollow. I very much enjoyed the first 200 pages as they both try to move on and deal with the past- and the explanation of how they got where they are when the novel opens- two years on from the events of Lies. A+ character development, A+ banter, A+ action sequences, A+ for inventiveness, loved the relationship between Locke and Jean, and it had mostly well done plot development, as Locke and Jean embroil themselves in yet another high flying Oceans Eleven style con.

However. And this is a big however- it felt like Scott Lynch suddenly changed his mind completely about what he wanted to write, and had a big Screw It moment, and decided to be completely self-indulgent. Which I'm sure was a lot of fun for him, but for the reader, it is a very confusing, ridiculous sharp disappointment. Somewhere along the way, he decided he wanted to write Pirates of the Carribean fanfiction, stealing plot details (which kind of sucked even in the movies), settings, near direct quotes, and even little moments of action in battle sequences. His other influences were starkly obvious as well- there were strong, strong nods to The Princess Bride, moments out of the movie they made of Zorro, even. His characters fell victim to the most overdone of fantasy genre stereotypes (the fact that they didn't do this was one of my favorite parts of the first book), his plot was increasingly unlikely, and also became a ridiculous soap opera, and the quality of his writing went from laugh out loud to roll my eyes so loud you can hear me across the room.

I also felt that this book got incredibly preachy at points- which is kind of a killjoy for a novel that has two thieves for heroes. Lynch decided that he needed to push some kind of Robin Hood, working class agenda to make his heroes seem morally superior to everyone else. Nobody is reading this book for justice for the lower classes, Lynch.

It wasn't all bad- I appreciated the Lynch inserts women into professions all throughout his world mostly without preachy comment, I liked the character of the pirate Zamira, I enjoyed that Jean (who is still mostly wonderful) got his own independent storyline, I enjoyed how good his descriptive powers can be, and like I said, I enjoyed the first 200 pages.

But come on, this could have been much better.
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Reading Progress

04/22/2009 page 90
16.13% "I can see the "more of the same" argument on this book, but so far it is well executed, so I don't mind."

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Sarah Awesome! I can't wait to read the first book this series.


Kelly Oh, it really is a lot of fun! Very very clever romp, wonderful world building, A+ repartee and action scenes. I think you'll like it.


Kelly Ha, thanks, though I wish I didn't have to snark this one. The first one of this series was so good!


Wealhtheow I wish I disagreed with you.

Hopefully, by the third book Lynch has gotten over his tendency to kill everyone in wildly tragic yet wholly unlikely circumstances.


Kelly Agreed. I don't mind his tendency towards killing people- keeps you on your toes and interested. But now when its sole purpose is just to show how clever you are. Just feels like he got lazy. I hope he returns to form with the next book.


message 6: by Eric_W (new)

Eric_W Hi Kelly: Awesome review. Thanks.


Kelly Glad it was helpful! :)


Jason Powell Great review!! This is exactly how I felt about this book! You were far more articulate in describing your frustrations than I could ever be. The first book was so good! I was really sad to see the second one flounder.


message 9: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Wow. Exactly how I felt. Not sure if I will pick up the 3rd. I hope you review that as well!


Kelly I just hope that it comes out soon! Despite my experience with this one my experience with the first was so positive that I'm still looking forward to the third.


Emily That's weird because I didn't see PotC in it at all... except for the generic presence of pirates. What "near direct quotes" did you see?


Kelly You know, it's been three years since I read this one so I don't remember any longer except that it happened. I'm planning to do a re-read of the first two books when the third comes out, though, so I'll let you know when I do.


message 13: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Jones this is an accurate and excellent review. I enjoyed this book despised the obvious shortcomings you point out, but that doesn't make them any less accurate.

I too felt like halfway through this book took a sharp turn toward the ridiculous, which is disappointing in contrast to the first book.


Jonny Bramley Completely agree with your review. I found myself flying through the first 200 pages or so and was completely gripped by it all. Then the piracy kicked in and it really dragged in my John Humble. I also thought the ending felt very rushed because of it too.


Kelly Yes, it felt very slapdash. There was no build or thread, it was more like one thing happening after another because that's what he decided on that day because that's what was funniest/most dramatic. Very "sure, why not?" method of plotting.


message 16: by Max (new) - rated it 4 stars

Max Flentge Your review unfortunately nails it... I felt exactly the same


Kelly The third one hangs together much better- I'd still recommend you try it if you liked at least part of this one.


Kimster I agree fully with your review. Loved the first book and the start of the second but got bored pretty quickly after that. I liked that he brought in Jean's perspective later in the book. I think my problem with this book is to few sub-characters and killing them off to quickly. I loved the end though- typical Locke! Thanx for awesome review!


Kelly Thanks for the comment. Yeah, it just kind of went off the rails in a completely different direction. It was almost like two completely different books- which doesn't necessarily have to be bad, but I enjoyed the one I had already!


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