Red Seas Under Red Skies Group Read Part 1

Two ships on high seas under full sail. Text: Red Seas under Red Skies - Gentleman Bastards Read-along

Last week marked the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora read along, but this week begins the read along for book two, Red Seas Under Red Skies! All the discussion posts can be found here. This week is the very beginning of Red Seas Under Red Skies, up through chapter three. As always, beware of spoilers under the cut.

Jean, I would describe this turn of events as less than helpful.

We get off to an unexpected start, jumping straight into the middle of – well, what? We’re in Tal Verrar and the wheels appear to have come off. In the subsequent chapters, there’s a lot of focus on Locke and Jean’s friendship and devotion to one another. Do you think Jean has really turned against Locke? 

I honestly can’t imagine it. Those two are such besties, and I can’t see Jean turning against Locke. The flashback scenes do have him annoyed with Locke, but they seem to be getting along just fine in the main story line.

Actually that raises the question: Where does that very first scene fit in chronologically? Is it ahead of the Tal Verrar con or is it somewhere in the past?

“I am an honest working thief and I’ll do what I have to to keep a table set and a roof over our heads!”

This time, the interludes are flashbacks to what the Bastards have been up to for the past two years. How did you feel about Locke’s depression – and Jean’s responses?

Locke’s reaction fits with what we saw of him at the end of the first book, when he attacked the Grey King by himself, expecting to die. Locke feels that he doesn’t have anything to live for. Jean is rightly annoyed because Locke still has him. I think both of their reactions are understandable.

“It is possible,” said Locke with a sheepish grin, “that I have been slightly too bold.”

The Requin game is worth more than the Bastards entire lost fortune in Camorr (and Locke gives us a little insight into what it means in real terms). His reputation is ominous. Given everything we learn about Requin, is Locke over-reaching himself?

I think Locke is always over-reaching himself. Locke doesn’t seem happy unless he’s teetering on the edge of disaster.

“It’ll be good to be the predators again.”

I guess Maxilan Stragos and the Bondsmagi are front of the queue to disagree with Jean (even if you don’t think Requin is more dangerous than a half-starved, blood-crazed wolf shark). And is it just me, or does Tal Verrar feel even more intense than Camorr? Even if the average bod on the street seems less knife-happy, a lot of the buildings seem to be designed to intimidate and/or murder you. How are you liking the new setting?

At the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora, I made the observation that the book was about the cycle of revenge. If the Bondsmagi are determined to avenge themselves upon Locke and Jean for the torture of the Falconer, Red Seas Under Red Skies may be following with that pattern.

My guess that the intensity of Tal Verrar stems from it being effectively a military dictatorship. It sounds like while the merchant council may have some power, the ultimate authority resides in the hands of Maxilan Stragos.

While I miss Camorr, the change of scenery lets Lynch continue to come up with some really imaginative world building. I love the tiers of the city, the Sinspire, and Stragos’s fortress, covered in a waterfall. We’ve gotten less sense of what Tal Verrar’s culture is like than we did with Camorr, but it makes sense since Locke and Jean are foreigners who would be unfamiliar with it themselves. Besides for Stragos’s fortress, most of what we’ve seen of the city are the parts dedicated to extracting money from wealthy foreigners. It’s hard to tell what the rest of the city’s like.

It’s always hard to pick out favorite scenes with these books. However, I did like the bit where Jean and Locke are talking about books and fiction.

“But romances aren’t real, and surely never were. Doesn’t that take away some of the savor?”

“What an interesting choice of words. ‘Not real, and never were.’ Could there be any more appropriate literature for men of our profession? Why are you always so averse to fiction, when we’ve made it our meal ticket?”

I also want to know more about how the poison works. How often do Locke and Jean need to get dosed with the antidote? And what is it that Stragos wants them to do? I can remember vaguely what it is, but I have no recollection of what his reasoning was.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    I like your observation about the cycle of revenge from Lies carrying over into this book. The Bondsmagi don’t appear to be letting go of a maiming of one of their own.

    I too want to know more about the poison. This is a reread for me but I only vaguely recall what the poison does or how it acts.

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