Street gangs, evil dictators, deadly poisons, high-stakes gambling, pirates, magicians, naval battles—and that’s just a taste of what this book has to offer!

I thought I enjoyed the first book in The Gentlemen Bastards series, and then I read this one and was blown away by how the author absolutely upped the stakes.

There are three things I look for in a great story:

  • A great world. Few of the fantasy novels I’ve read can compare to the unique world created by Scott Lynch. From the Vegas-style gambling halls of Tal Verrar to the breathtaking Sea of Brass to the fascinating ancient relics left by the disappeared Eldren, everything about this world is designed to make me want to know more about it.
  • Creative storytelling. Stretch out your neck because whiplash is a very real threat! This book is loaded with plot twists and turns that will drop your jaw to your chest, and you’ll love reading the new and creative ways the author finds to throw his characters further into the deep end.
    I LOVE the con artist story, and the clever ways they find the cheat the system and pull off their epic heists. Plus, all the epic sea battles with their Jean Tannen-centric fight scenes are bad-ass as all hell!
  • Compelling characters. This is where Scott Lynch truly shines, in my opinion. Locke Lamora is your classic wise-ass rogue/thief-type, but Jean Tannen is the brawny genius that keeps him on the straight and narrow—as well as bailing him out of all the trouble he gets into. Add in characters like Ezri Delmastro and Zamira Drakasha (still one of the catchiest fantasy names I’ve ever heard), and you’ve got a recipe for all sorts of fun.

Fair warning: the climactic scene made me ugly cry over a sink full of dishes, because it’s just that good!

I listened to the audiobook rather than read the novels, and I believe this is why I enjoyed it so much. The voice talent did a breathtaking job of bringing each character to life, and the transition between each was so smooth I didn’t even need the “Locke said” and “Jean said” tags.

By far my favorite pirate book to date, Red Seas Under Red Skies a masterful romp of derring-do that absolutely subverts expectations and hits you in the feels time and again.

5 out of 5 stars.

Andy Peloquin is the author of the Queen of Thieves series, as well as several other fantasy works.

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