This time, however, they have targeted the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the most exclusive and heavily guarded gambling house in the world. Its nine floors attract the wealthiest clientele - and to rise to the top, one must impress with good credit, amusing behavior...and excruciatingly impeccable play. For there is one cardinal rule, enforced by Requin, the house's cold-blooded master: it is death to cheat at any game at the Sinspire.Brazenly undeterred, Locke and Jean have orchestrated an elaborate plan to lie, trick, and swindle their way up the nine floors...straight to Requin's teeming vault. Under the cloak of false identities, they meticulously make their climb - until they are closer to the spoils than ever.
But someone in Tal Verrar has uncovered the duo's secret. Someone from their past who has every intention of making the impudent criminals pay for their sins. Now it will take every ounce of cunning to save their mercenary souls. And even that may not be enough.
©2008 Scott Lynch; (P)2009 Tantor
Audible has opened up a whole new world of reading that I could not make work in the traditional page turning world. I am on a mission to listen to a wide variety of adventures, mysteries, thrillers, classics, etc. Thank you Audible!
First of all Scott Lynch is an excellent story teller. I found both books to be among the best I have listened to. There is significantly strong language, but I found it fit with the characters and the story. The thing I liked best in this series is that the author did not waste the readers time reviewing the story of the first book. Too many authors spend too much time recapping the story line of the past book so people who did not read the first book can be caught up, but not Mr. Lynch. If you did not read the first book you will miss out on a lot and likely find yourself confused at times. Thank you for rewarding those who begin a series at the beginning and know the details. I agree with the other reviews in that the narration by Michael Page is superb and makes the story come to live. I highly recommend and will be anxiously waiting for the other books in the series to be released!
I have been a member on Audible for a very long time and this is the first review I have ever written.
RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES has been one of the best books that I have listened to in years. I personally do not like the use of the "F" word, but in this piece and its predecessor I did not mind it so much. I have stopped reading other books for much less, but once I started THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA I could not stop until I listened to RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES.
Do yourself a favor, listen to both books available in this series and see if I know what I am talking about.
Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken
Posted under "The Lies of Locke Lamora" and "Red Seas Under Red Skies" (Books 1 and 2 of "Gentleman Bastards").
There are so many good and accurate reviews of both these books, I hesitate to add my 2 cents, but am so enthusiastic about them--and about the imminent release (Fall 2013) of the third book in the series, "A Republic of Thieves"--that I decided to pony up.
The writing is exquisite. It requires concentration. Scott Lynch moves masterfully between characters and time frames. The con games the protagonists play are complicated but ultimately, weirdly believable. There are scenes of surpassing beauty and events of excruciating brutality. These are not books to lull yourself to sleep with (unless you want some real nightmare images floating around your brain).
The narration by Michael Page is first-class. I've listened to a couple of other books he's narrated and always thought he was good, but for these books, he really stepped it up. Writing this good deserves time and thought in the interpretation, and Page delivers. A match made in audio heaven.
"Lies" should be read before "Red Seas," but each is complete and satisfying in itself. This is a good thing, because there have been 5 years between "Red Seas" and the forthcoming volume. Lynch's website lists a proposed 7-volume arc for this series, and he's apparently filling in with some novellas (the first of which are scheduled for publication in winter 2014). I wish Scott Lynch the best. I look forward to a long stretch of enjoying his books, especially if he can maintain the incredibly high writing and plotting standards of the first two.
Tell us about yourself!
I had barely finished the first book before I immediately downloaded the sequal, and while it was a good and entertaining listen, it sadly felt diminished by the awesome experience I had with its predecessor. This book is exciting and fun and written and narrated just as well as the first, but there was just something missing that made me love it a little less than the first. I dont know if it was because I missed all the childhood stories, or perhaps I just missed Chains, but I let this story languish a bit whereas with the first one I nearly ended up with my earbuds permanently fixed to my head. Its a good story, and its more of the same, though I have to admit it lost itself in the middle and dedicated a significant amount of time building up story that never seemed to really pan out, but all in all this was still a good listen, sadly, it just wasnt the first.
Thoroughly enjoyable, gritty adventure fantasy with a couple of hero rogues. The narrator does one of the best jobs of capturing the characters I have heard on Audible. Read the (equally good) prequel "The Lies of Locke Lamorra" first. Highly recommended!
Scott Lynch's debut novel, THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, was a rollicking good read with an inventive world, great characters, and its share of poignant moments. Lynch has kept the momentum going strong in this follow-up, following the heroes to a brand new cityscape where new heists are hatched and intrigues plotted. The plot does sag a bit at times, but it's always redeemed by Lynch's powerful writing and witty dialogue.
Michael Page's narration captures the mood and characters perfectly. He makes you forget you're listening to a narration and opens a window directly onto Lynch's colorful world.
This review's been a long time coming. I should have written it MUCH sooner. I have a litany of ridiculous excuses (I refer to them as viable reasons) that delayed writing this review.
So, let's get past that, and get to it.
If you would, please look at my review for Scott Lynch's "The Lies Of Locke Lamora," the first in The Gentleman Bastard Sequence. Not that I'm impressed with my own review; I simply want you to have a bit of background on this truly fantastic series by Lynch. Once done, please come back here, and we'll begin.
In "Red Seas Under Red Skies," Lynch carries the series into a uncharted waters (Pun intended) which begins with Locke and his gentlemen scoping out a gambling house of vast notoriety and presumably vast wealth, and eventually works its ways onto the open seas. I can't provide further info on the plot, or I come perilously close to ruining the surprises to come.
So, what can I tell you?
Once again, Lynch has a tremendously enjoyable second in the series, and it's wicked fun. The author wraps this huge fantasy world around you, drapes your shoulders in its heady embrace, and pulls you in.
As is the first in the series, it's extremely unusual, unexpected, witty, descriptive, both plot and character driven, and doesn't bog down. This is one time I wish I could elaborate, but doing so will give away too much. You want spoilers? Move along. I will NOT ruin the efforts by both the author and the narrator to breath life into this work by giving away any of the plot devices, nor the storyline to which it's attached. The descriptive compelling writing here is a love letter to anyone who longs for good writing in the genre. This is smart fantasy writing that has been penned superbly, tied together lovingly to create an truly stand-apart fantasy series that I plan to listen to again in the near future. Is there magic in this action fantasy writing. Yes, peppered throughout the audiobook, and hints at further and larger magics to come in Lynch's next Lamora adventure, "The Republic Of Thieves." If you've listened to "Lies," then you know exactly to whom I refer. Yes, they're back, and with a sinister ugly vengeance. And an agenda.
What? You DON"t know? Get "Lies," and you WILL.
With such great fantasy writing on the shelves here at Audible, this is truly is an exciting time for fantasy listeners.
So join Locke and the gentleman on the high seas. Put that hard-earned Audible credit to good use, and acquire this audiobook. When a sequel can almost outshine its fantastic predecessor, you're onto a good thing.
Here's to rough sailing!
The Lies of Locke Lamora was a fun bit of thieving and rogueing in a crapsack fantasy world. Red Seas Under Red Skies is more of the same, plus pirates. I actually enjoyed it more than the first book, not necessarily because of the pirates.
Locke Lamora is a thief, the sort of thief who makes people want to play the thief class in AD&D, and then find out that even if you reach 15th level you're still not going to be able to pull off epic fantasy novel stunts. Locke prides himself on being able to steal anything from anyone, and quite often Lynch will have him pull off audacious stunts offscreen, like waltzing into a nobleman's heavily-guarded mansion and stealing a prize piece of jewelry from around his mistress's neck while they are in bed together. But the plots that drive these books are capers — as is pointed out several times, if Locke and Jean just wanted to be rich, they could make off with a nice haul and retire whenever they like. But they always have to find a big, difficult, dangerous score, preferably one that involves pissing off powerful people. Then of course in the process of setting up a long game, they end up crossing even more powerful people, get screwed over every which way, and have to pull off a spectacular triple-plus-cross to get out of it.
Following the events of book one, Locke Lamora, the Thorn of Camorr, and his bruiser best friend Jean, flee Camorr to lick their wounds. Locke goes into an alcoholic pity party while Jean starts building up a new gang of thieves in the small town they've wound up in, until in an effort to stir him from his depression, Jean provokes Locke into an overly audacious bit of thievery to demonstrate that he's still the most cunning bastard ever. This causes them to flee, and the whole subplot with Jean's little gang of teenage thieves is dropped, never to be mentioned again. I have noticed that Scott Lynch leaves lots of loose threads dangling, like the ancient race that left the Elderglass ruins, and the lost love that Locke has been moaning about for two books now. Either he's planning to wrap this all up spectacularly in a future volume, or he is just one of those authors who gets nifty ideas, doesn't know what to do with them, and forgets about them.
Lynch's plotting is great, though — grant his main characters the sort of epic talents they are credited with, and their scheming is clever and entertaining enough to allow the reader to cross that bridge suspended over disbelief.
Anyway — pirates. They don't really show up until about halfway in.
Jean and Locke travel to Tal Verrar and spend two years preparing to steal from the Sinspire, a grand casino with successively higher levels one can only ascend with a combination of wealth, status, and game play. The Sinspire's vaults are, of course, supposedly unbreachable, and the Sinspire is run by yet another evil mastermind, so that's Locke and Jean's target. In the process of planning their con, however, they come to the attention of the Archon of Tal Verrar, who is a rival of the master of the Sinspire and a politician with a problem familiar to historical monarchs — he commands Tal Verrar's army and navy, but Tal Verrar's "priori," or ruling council, controls the purse strings. He needs a threat to materialize and convince the priori to loosen up their purses. Another pirate attack like that one seven or eight years ago would do nicely. Once he gets Locke and Jean in his power, he assigns them to... go recruit a bunch of pirates and attack Tal Verrar so the Archon can defeat the pirates and have a well-funded navy again. So Locke and Jean have to satisfy both the Archon and the master of Sinspire, convincing each that they are a double-agent for them working against the other. Meanwhile they've been poisoned, the bondsmagi they pissed off in the first book are after them, the Archon's right-hand woman is actually working for some unknown third power, and that's before Locke and Jean even get out to sea and meet the pirates they have to convince to attack Tal Verrar so they can all be hunted down and killed.
Juggling so many knives, Lynch does a pretty good job of grounding them without cutting off too many fingers. The piracy was entertaining, as he introduces a single mother pirate captain and a pleasantly silly bit of seagoing tradition in this world in which ships must always sail with women officers and cats and women.
The world remains an almost unrelentingly dark one — some of the characters, including Locke and Jean, show streaks of nobility, and Locke in particular seems to be planning some sort of grand strike against the wantonly cruel upper classes. That said, this is a grimdark fantasy world. Casual cruelty, creative atrocities, humiliation and oppression and torture as sport, not to mention everyone being reliably treacherous at all levels, is par for the course.
Lynch follows other predictable cliches as well, like as soon as Jean and his new pirate honey exchanged "I love you"s, I knew she couldn't have been more dead if she already had a sword through her neck.
Despite following a few standard fantasy tropes, this was rollicking good fun, one of those books that is most entertaining not for the swashbuckling or the fantasy bits, but for the impossible situations the author puts the characters in, so the reader is forced to turn pages to find out "How the hell are they going to get out of this one?"
Definitely elevated my desire to read the next book in the series, though I hope Lynch is going to eventually incorporate some larger meta-plot into the story, rather than just continuing to spin yarns about ever-greater heists.
This story seems to be a very watery copy of Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Chronicles series. The two main characters are startlingly similar to Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn but without their depth.
Come up with a more original protagonist duo.
The story could have been reduced by a good third by eliminating the filler that the author has seemingly used to bulk up the page count.
If you haven’t already read the Riyria books then by all means buy them instead of this book. If you have save your money and avoid a major disappointment.
The second of The Gentleman Bastard series is just as cleverly written as the first! I am duly impressed. Lynch's treatment of the death of very close friends--friends more like brothers--in the first book was very fast-paced. You never really had the chance to see our heroes grieve. But in this book, you get that chance. The characters are still cocksure and invincible, but they've definitely grown through their adversities. The greatest appeal to me is the deep abiding friendship that men seem to be able to maintain in spite of each other. They share strengths and vulnerabilities and accept each other's frailties and faults while simultaneously ranting at each other for them. Yet, they remain true. It's an enviable trait to have that depth of loyalty for one's friends. The same narrator performs this reading, and once again is stupendous! Worth savoring every delicious moment!
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