the Little Red Reviewer

Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch

Posted on: January 6, 2011

 Red Seas Under Red Skies is the 2nd book in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series. I suggest reading my review of the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora here, and a little more about my love for Scott Lynch here.

It’s been a few years since Red Seas Under Red Skies came out, and I’ve read it more than a few times. It’s now without embarrassment that I can say the first time I read it I was reading too fast to understand what was happening. Honestly. The first time I read Red Seas I wasn’t sure if I liked it, going so far as to call it “not quite as friendly”, or some such. Only upon rereading did I realize that I’d become party to the most brilliant piece of misdirection I have ever seen.

Picking up a few years after Lies left off, Locke and Jean are working another scam in the gambling paradise of Tal Verrar (Think Monaco or some such, on more). The plan is the rip off Requin, the wealthiest casino owner, by playing on his pride, his reputation, and his love for fine antique furniture. It doesn’t hurt matters that Requin holds the deposits of Tal Verrar’s wealthy Priori leaders, who are desperate to be rid of an accidental military dictator, Maxilan Stragos. When Stragos makes Locke and Jean an offer they can’t refuse, they can’t help but try to start a pirate war.

That plot summary sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? So does the one line plot summary for most Doctor Who episodes, and we all know how that worked out. Let it be known, Red Seas Under Red Skies is approximately 0% silly, and 100% fucking awesome.

so much for keeping this review professional and not super fangirly.

I don’t know what I love most about this novel.

There’s the characterization – we really get to know Locke and Jean. Lies of Locke Lamora was all fun and games and action and nail biting, whereas Red Seas under Red Skies is just a teensy bit slower paced, offering the opportunity for Jean to shine as the book smarts of the operation, as finally more than just the side kick. I fear that Jean will eventually be Locke’s undoing, but not before Jean saves his life just one more time.

There’s the dialog, and oh gods, the language. Beautifully colorful invective, snarkyness like you’ve never seen, sarcasm, pirates arguing literary philosophy . . . just brilliant. Not sold on the pirate thing? read it just for the dialog, which is completely inappropriate for anyone uncomfortable with four letter words that appear on nearly every page. Be prepared to be schooled in the proper use of a potty mouth.

There’s the world building. This is an epic fantasy style world, and oh did Lynch have some wicked fun building it. Even Locke Lamora feels uncomfortable in certain cities, and you will too. And even that was part of the plan.

There’s the way Lynch puts the story together – ledgermaine hiding misdirection hiding something else altogether. As usual, the prize has nothing to do with gold. This is a heist plot that goes all pirate, and my first thought was that the first half of this book did not match the second half. But it does. trust me. everything that happens has to happen. Even when you don’t want it to, and sometimes because you don’t want it to.

and did I mention it’s hilarious? and bittersweet? and magnificent? and a little bit of a bromance? and perfect? and everytime I finish reading this book the first thing I want to do is start reading it all over again?

Here’s hoping fans will get to read the third book in the series, The Republic of Thieves, sometime in 2011. Some rumors say February, others say June, others are wisely keeping their own council.

If you love snarky dark fiction, bad guys who deep down are good guys, epic fantasy, adventure, and smarts sometimes winning, you’ll like Scott Lynch.

15 Responses to "Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch"

I don’t know, I’d say the Gentleman Bastards books are at least 5% silly, even though they are still 100% fucking awesome. If there weren’t at least some silliness underlying the snark, they’d be almost oppressively dark.

I’m not holding my breath for the third book, though. It’ll come when it comes, and I will immediately devour it when it does, but I’ve learned the hard way about eagerly anticipating the promised next book “coming soon!” in a series from any fantasy author except Brandon Sanderson.


I think this is the first positive review I’ve read of Red Seas as most reviews seems to say that it was a bit disappointment. I listened to the audio version and loved it and I suspect I enjoyed listening to it more than I would have reading it because it just worked really well as an audio book, My favorite aspect of this book is really getting a look at the deep friendship between Locke and Jean. It’s infrequent to read about these kind of friendships between men and I thought it was beautifully done.


I’ll be honest, the first time I read it, I was dissapointed. When I first got it, I was so excited that I blew through it in like 24 hours, and managed to miss every single important bit. The first review I wrote of it was not as positive as this one.


I’m hoping we’ll see Republic this year, but I don’t get my hopes up about anything these days. I feel Red Seas gets unfairly maligned. It was a good book, just that it was following one of the hardest acts ever in Lies. The Sinspire was brilliant.


“I feel Red Seas gets unfairly maligned”

Lies is such pure insane wacky fun, and an impossible act to follow. Red Seas has more subtly, more maturity, is much darker, and just has a very different feel. The Sinspire “stunt” was a work of art. 😉


I read this and hated it. It was way too long and when I finished it I wanted a refund for my time wasted on this book. I’m not sure if I’m going to go for The Republic of Thieves. I’ll think about it.


Yay! I’m always so happy when I see this one reviewed positively. I loved it (though not quite as much as Lies), but so many people seem to be down on it. 😦


The main thing that sticks in my mind about Red Seas is the scene where Locke and Jean, ah, express their frustrations with nautical terminology. I think of that every time I read Patrick O’Brian. 🙂

I am surprised to hear people actively dislike this book (this is coming from someone who didn’t like the first half of Lies, but did enjoy the second half).


Bloody hell, better get it off the shelf then!!! Have you read Peter Brett btw?


Bloody hell, better get it off the shelf then!!! Have you read Peter Brett or Kristin Cashore btw?


Hi Lynn! thanks for stopping by! I’m familiar w/Peter Brett, but I’ve never heard of Kristin Cashore. What titles of theirs do you recommend?

I hope you like Red Seas! 🙂


Okay, it took me longer than I thought to get this off the shelf but I’ve finally done so and read it in the last few days. I love this book, I know it’s had some criticism mainly based around the pirate side of the story but I thought it was great – it’s like we’ve got this whole other place to read about – and it’s so brilliantly written. I wish I could just go into more detail about some of the bits that were really enjoyable but it would spoil it for anyone reading your page! Sorry, never answered the above – Kristin Cashore wrote Graceling and Fire. Really good world building and very different.
have you also read the Magician by Raymond Feist? I love that series.
Thanks again, if I hadn’t stopped by I would probably never have picked up No.2.
Thinking of joining your LOTR debate – haven’t read that book for a LONNNNGGG time! Maybe I should revisit.


[…] dark revenge afoot, and of course Locke finds himself in the middle of it all.   The second book, Red Seas Under Red Skies is a little more subtle, a little more mature. and there are lots and lots of pirates.  Along with […]


[…] twists and turns than you can count, The Lies of Locke Lamora (review) and Red Seas Under Red Skies (review) are more than worth your time and […]


[…] We had so much fun with our The Lies of Locke Lamora read along, is everyone ready to dive into the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies?  A very different adventure for our remaining Gentlemen Bastards, and even when they don’t go looking for trouble, trouble finds them.  you can read my not-too spoilery review here. […]


join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,613 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on



FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
%d bloggers like this: