In a recent blog post I hinted (badly) that a friend had mentioned to me that Red Seas Under Red Skies felt like it was just filler. But at the time I hadn’t finished the book so I couldn’t really comment.
Well, now I can.
First off, let’s deal with what was said about the book being filler. Now from what I can see about how the book went down, I think that the reason this has been said is because although there’s a fair amount that happens in the book you get the feeling that a lot of it is build up to the climactic ending. And there is a climactic ending, but because the ending explodes and snaps rather suddenly you very much get the feeling when you’re closing that ‘There’s not enough room to finish this’.
I definitely started wondering how Lynch was going to resolve the plot once I started getting to 150 pages left to go … 100 pages left to go. And then boom.
Another reason I think that it felt like a bit of filler is partly because of the setting. Even after the swashbuckling quote on the front of the first book and piratical adventures suiting the characters, the fact that they were gallivanting on a ship with a very strong captain made it feel like they were almost piggybacking on another story for a large part of the book.
It’s a strange feeling really, because I don’t think this in any way detracted from the enjoyment that is to be had from the book. The writing is still good, the characters are still very entertaining and the world is still fascinating.
I think it’s that because you felt like they were just hopping along with someone else’s adventure you knew that they were going to leave those characters behind in the end so it almost felt inconsequential. This feels silly to say because Lynch does try and address this and he does that well, introducing characters and intertwining them with our protagonists with skill and consequence.But I guess, at least from my perspective, I’m always aware that they’re the great con-artists and it’s hard to forget that whatever might happen they’re going to move on to the next big score at some point. Although that view point is probably not helped by the fact that I knew there was a third book, so maybe if I didn’t know that I might have thought they could settle down at the end….
The work itself is just like reading more of the first, so that’s no bad thing. The characters retain their playfulness, intelligent and cunning ways. There’s more baggage than you get with the first book, the ending of Lies of Locke Lamora clearly weighs on them and at times there is the feeling that there’s a sword of Damacles dangling overhead waiting to split the group asunder. But that’s not a bad thing, it just adds another dimension to the plot along with the usual tension from whatever score they’re planning. The writing retains its wit, keeps its pacing and generally drags you along for the ride whether you want to put the book down or not.
I’ve touched on the setting. But the fact that the characters are out in the big wide ocean for a portion gives a good reason for Lynch to show you the characters weaknesses and expose their raw nerves. You definitely feel like the characters are being pushed to their limits and that they’re finding out just as much about themselves as we are.
I would definitely recommend this book, even more so if you’ve already enjoyed The Lies of Locke Lamora. I am glad that the next installment is already available for purchase as the ending almost felt too quick. You’re just getting ready for a big climactic ending and you get one, but it’s over almost before you know what’s happening.
So yes, read this, it’s just as good as the first and you’ll be hard pressed not to dive straight into the next one!
See you next time!