Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's hard to write a book, and a second book is all the harder. You now have expectations. You have something to live up to not only to your audience, but also to yourself. The fact that this book was a great follow up to The Lies of Locke Lamora, is really an amazing thing.
First and foremost, we should never forget that this series plays off of the bromance between Locke and Jean. Despite this fact, that is one of the most forward moving points of the book.
Since Locke and Jean don't really deal with some kind of existential enemy (minus the Magi which are a little absent) they have to be driven by something. Now, Lynch could have done this in a few ways. We could have seen them try to return to their former glory. This is actually explored early on when we see Jean trying to move forward by making a new gang, while Locke drinks himself to death.
This, however, is something just meant to demonstrate the difference in their grieving process. Whereas Locke has accepted everything that has happened and commits himself to depression, Jean has yet to allow such thoughts and therefore tries to go on, rebuild and recapture the past.
However, this was an easy out, one that Lynch was smart enough to avoid. Instead we see that Locke and Jean get into situations or peril because they cling to each other like a drowning man to a log. They are all they have let in the world, so therefore they will throw their lives away at a moments notice.
Even when Jean falls in love and commits to taking time off to spend with his lady, he is still not willing to allow Locke to die for him. Nor is willing to let him go into dangerous situations without him. It is this very foolhardy brotherhood that gets them into the most incredible of situations, be they stealing some paintings or going all in to get themselves cured of some poison.
As far as the theme goes, I'd say it doesn't get too far from the themes first put out in the first novel. The rich suck and use the poor as a tool, Locke and Jean say, "fuck that," and take what the can.
Richer and Cleverer than everyone else.
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