December 5, 2013

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (Review)

Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Author: Scott Lynch
First published: 2007
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★★

"Locke Lamora stood on the pier in Tal Verrar with the hot wind of a burning ship at his back and the cold bite of a loaded crossbow's bolt at his neck."
How can you not love a book which starts like this??? It's like the most awesome starting line I've encountered lately, as it gets you right into the mood! From the first line you see there will be ships (and quite some of them burning!), grave danger and our beloved Lamora in the middle of all this. If you have no idea who the hell he is, note that this is the second book in the series, so you should better read my review of the first book, or better still grab the books themselves :)

After a narrow escape from Camorr, Locke and Jean have established themselves in Tal Verrar, also a state-city, but with a different character. Of course, there is a huge heist underway, in the biggest and the most prestigious gambling club of the city. But as you may guess they are not able to pull it through smoothly, as greater forces are about to interfere. Remember the wizard they mutilated in the first book? Well, his colleagues are not leaving him unrequited. Besides, the archon, a military leader of the city, has his own needs, which he is very good at making other's needs too. Caught in the middle of political affairs of the city, Gentlemen Bastards need to go to sea and mingle with pirates, struggling for their lives and trying to win in a losing game.

Unlike the first book, I wasn't caught up immediately. The first 150 or so pages were a bit too descriptive and "preparatory" for my taste, which may be my own fault, because it's the end of the semester, and it's difficult for me to get involved in something else. But then they went to sea, and I was again in a wonderful state of not being able to put the novel down! The seafaring setting won me over completely, because I love sails, ships, pirates, ship life, all the sea terms, etc. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I learned it all in the times I was sailing myself on a replica of an 18-century ship? A lot of things were very recognizable and dear to me :) Look at this quote, for example:
"My head is full of little ships, all going round and round gleefully making up new names for the things on their decks!"
- everybody who had to learn sea vocabulary at some point in their lives know the feeling! :) Lynch even added some cute sailing traditions, which, unlike our Earth ones, require a woman on board for good luck! Besides, they are really good officers and some of them are also awesome gals! Yes, as you can guess, there's a whole set of new characters in the book, and they are really cool! :)

Although I enjoyed the book greatly, I do have some minor complaints about the plot, which was not as smooth as the first book's. For example, I totally saw some plot twists coming! That clearly was not the author's intention... And I still don't understand one thing: how had they thoughtfully got one guy's seal in advance, if they supposedly had an idea about how to use it only much later?? Or have I missed something? Oh, well, it's useless to complain anyway. I guess it's a bane of any series - no sequel can be as good as the first book. Although if the first book is THAT awesome, the sequels are still pretty great :)

On the bright side, there's some moving character growth in the book, which is to be expected after some of the hardships Locke and Jean have been through. And there was a place where I really cried. Embarrassingly, my mom called me at exactly that moment, and the look of my face frightened her a bit before I explained that I'm OK, it's just a book :)

In my book:
If you've read the first book, you probably already know you need to read all the sequels too :) And if you haven't - it's time to start, dudes! :)

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