Book Review: Red Seas under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a sign of how well my new Kindle Paperwhite is working out for me that I’ve already finished a lengthy fantasy on the thing. I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I’ve been looking forward to the sequel, so I decided to use the excuse of a new Kindle to try it out with a good book. (Well, I assumed it would be a good book–thankfully, I was not disappointed.)

Like the first, it’s a heist book at its heart. Locke and Jean have left their home city of Camorr and gone on to look for fresh meat in other cities. They pick another major city and set about trying to figure out how to bilk as much money from its elite as possible. As with most heist books, knowing more about the novel is actually a bad thing. You want to be surprised.

How did this one stack up against the first? Fairly well. The characters are well drawn and compelling, and the writing’s top rate. Where it fell short was in the plot. Bluntly put, it was just too scattered. There are casinos and taverns and pirate ships and everything in between. I felt like it lacked focus. Another complaint I had was the way the book was put together–it keeps zig zagging between flash backs, and it all felt a tad too haphazard to me. (Plus, the book starts with kind of a cheap prologue. I dislike gimmicks, and this one felt very gimmicky to me–as if Lynch didn’t have confidence in the rest of his story to keep our interest. Maybe it’s just me.)

In a different book, I probably still would have been blown away by the writing and characters. In a followup to a piece of awesome like The Lies of Locke Lamora? I couldn’t help feel somewhat disappointed. Again–it’s a solid book, and I’m glad I read it. I just wish . . . it had tried less and done it better. I think it was overly ambitious. (Easy to see how that would happen, working on a followup to such a great book.)

In the end, I think it’s more of a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but in a situation like that, I always give the author the benefit of rounding up.

(Also note that Lynch’s writing–while not overly violent or sexualized–does have a fair bit of language, so it’s not for everyone.)

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