Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Audio Book Review: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Posted by Simcha 7:23 PM, under | 3 comments

The Lies of Locke Lamora was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed but I was in no rush to read its sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, since many of the reviews I read about it were not complementary. But after recently discovering the joys of audio books I decided to give the audio book version a try, in hopes that I might enjoy it more in this format.

Red Seas Under Red Skies opens up with a shocking scene in which Locke discovers that he has been betrayed by his best friend, Jean Tannen. Then, in a narrative style similar to that in The Lies of Locke Lamora, the story jumps back into different points in the recent past, describing the events that had brought Jean and Locke to the present situation.

Jean and Locke had arrived in Tel Varrar in pursuit of a challenging and exciting heist against one of the most prominent citizens of the city. After two years of careful preparations, they are ready to put their plan in to action. Everything appears to be going well, until a powerful third party gets wind of Jean and Locke’ s actions and forces the two men to take part in a crazy scheme of his own. Suddenly Jean and Locke find their lives to be spiraling out of control as they are forced to set out to sea as pirates, while avoiding the mysterious assassination attempts, even as they continue with the initial scheme that had already been set into motion.

Red Seas Under Red Skies has a very different feel to it than The Lies of Locke Lamora. While a non-linear narration is used again here, the story itself lacks the sense of purpose of its predecessor. In this book, Locke and Jean’s troubles are brought on by their own capracious desire to cause mischief and the results were not as grave and consequential as in the previous book. Yet I found myself enjoying it just as much, largely due to the superb audio narration but also because of the increased character development, something I had found lacking in Lies.

I haven’t read too many books in which there was a strong focus on male friendship, and this was an aspect of
Red Seas that I particularly enjoyed. I loved Locke and Jean’s rock-solid relationship, going back to their childhood together, and the way they always have each others backs. At the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora, Jean forced Locke to cling to life after the tragic loss of many of their friends and in Red Seas he stands by Locke as his friend battles depression. Jean is a strong, solid presence at Locke’s back and Locke is the brains and cunning that moves the two forward and gets them out of numerous scrapes. I admit that at times the two seem more like an old married couple then a pair of sly thieves, and Locke’s frequent and heartfelt apologies after each argument seemed a bit excessive, but I was willing to overlook this as their strong friendship was one of the most appealing aspect of the book, for me.

There is also some wonderful world building as Lynch extends the reader's view to other cities with their different cultures and customs. I love his vivid descriptions of the cuisine as well as some of the interesting local practices.

The audio book of
Red Seas is narrated by Michael Page, who did a spectacular job. I particularly loved the way he portrayed Jean; reading his dialogue in a way that I could clearly imagine the tough, large man himself speaking. Once of the interesting results of listening to an audio book is that you end up spending a lot more time with the characters then if you were simply reading the book. In this case, I spent about two week with Locke and Jean, and by the end of the book I had really come to care for both of them and was reluctant to let them go.

It’s hard for me to tell if the deeper connection that I felt with the characters in this book, compared to the last, had to do with the writing or if it was due to Page’s narration. I do believe that narration adds additional color and depth to the author’s written words and sometimes it can be hard to judge the two separately. But I can say that I was far less critical of
Red Seas under Red Skies as an audio book then I would have been had I been reading it. It was just such a fun and wonderful listening experience that I didn’t care if the story wasn’t quite on par with the previous one.

I highly recommend this audio book to anyone who has been holding back from reading
Red Seas Under Red Skies due to the unfavorable reviews, as well as to anyone who has already read the book, since you will probably find that you enjoy the audio version more. I am now eagerly anticipating Lynch’s third novel in the series, The Republic of Thieves, and I can't wait to rejoin Locke and Jean in whatever adventures they have in store.


hi simcha! it's been years since i listed to an audio book because i need the book with the audio anyway, so i just stick with books... anyway, i haven't heard of these books or the author but i'm glad you enjoyed it :)

have an awesome (reading) week :)

chelleyreads: Thanks for stopping by! These are really fun books to read but I think I remember you saying that you don't enjoy reading about thief characters, in which case these books probably aren't' for you.

Aaggg, I need to quite reading the reviews! lol. I am getting to many books I want to read. This sounds like a great series and I want them too. Thank you!

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