Set two years after The Lies of Locke Lamora, this book continues the story of Locke and Jean after their flight from Camorr. In the first part of the book, we receive plenty of flashbacks into the time between Camorr and their current home, the island city of Tal Verrar. There, the two of them are working on an elaborate two-year scam to catch them their biggest coup yet. Of course, things turn out very differently, when the Bondsmagi of Karthain and one of the rulers of Tal Verrar catch wind of their presence and uses them for his own bargain.
Red Seas Under Red Skies has all the markings of what made the prequel so outstanding for me. The writing is still extremely entertaining, the characters are colorful, and the women of this world are remarkable and all tough as nails and powerful. Yet I am only giving this book four stars, whereas the prequel got five. Unfortunately, I felt this book dragged a bit in the middle part. I think it took way too long for Jean and Locke to end up on the Poison Orchid. I mean, sure, I learned a lot of nautical terms as well, but I just felt that went on way too long. I also missed some of the astounding twists and turns from the first book. The twists here were all fairly rushed at the end. Maybe I just didn’t like the setting. I preferred the faux-renaissance world of Camorr to Tal Verrar and the pirate life.
I did however really enjoy all the characters aboard the Poison Orchid. I am always impressed when an author is not afraid to kill off very likeable characters, so be prepared to be shocked. I also appreciated the deeper insights we got into Locke and his motivations, and added depth for both him and Jean.
Despite my misgivings, I would fully recommend reading both books, and the last part of the book left plenty of open questions, to make me anticipate the next book greatly. It’s a colorful world I wouldn’t want to miss.