Week 2: Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along
Ever wanted to be a pirate? Long hours, hard work, certain peril, possibilities of swashbuckling and seasickness. Don’t forget to bring a kitten. It’s not Locke Lamora’s idea of a career move, but after a promising start the Gentleman Bastards find themselves out of their depth in Tal Verrar. Can Locke and Jean outwit the Archon, the Bondsmagi, the master of the Sinspire and all the pirates on the Sea of Brass?
- 5th May Chapters 1-3 hosted at x+1
- 12th May Chapters 4-6 hosted at x+1
- 19th May Chapters 7-10 hosted at The Illustrated Page
- 26th May Chapters 11-13 hosted at x+1
- 2nd Jun Book 3 & Epilogue hosted at x+1
1. “And if some small part of him felt sour at twisting her emotions (gods damn it, that part of him had rarely spoken up before!) – well, he reminded himself that he could do as he pleased and feel as he pleased while he was Leocanto Kosta. Leocanto Kosta wasn’t real.”
Between flirting with Selendri, confronting the horrors of Salon Corbeau and handling a certain cliff-top encounter, Locke’s conscience gets a solid work-out this week. What do you make of our little thief’s elastic ethics? Is he a good man, a good thief, or both?
Tiara: Both. Yeah, he’s a thief and obviously he frames his crimes as something that doesn’t really hurt the people he robs rather than leaving them feeling put out, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t still care for the human condition. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Even in the first book, it was obvious that Locke doesn’t care for gratuitous violence. He may be selfish about his own needs, but not at the expense of others.
As I said during the last book, Locke is not cruel. He doesn’t like to see people suffer. If there is something that he can do to stop it, he will. Locke helped the nobility of Camorr in the last book from suffering loss as he had. Yes, maybe some of that was to be able to sink the ship, but I always felt a larger part of it was because he doesn’t care to see anyone–rich or poor–who doesn’t deserve it suffer.
That idea shaped up even more in this book during the sections about the Salon Corbeau, and if I have to go by the last book and his strong reaction to seeing such suffering at the Salon Corbeau, he’s going to make the nobles who participate in the Salon Corbeau’s Amusement Wars pay. I don’t feel like that’s something he’s going to just let go.
Also, I appreciated that Locke acknowledges that he has a conscience, but that he’s quelled it over the years thanks to his thievery. However, there are some things that even his conscience won’t be silenced about such as using Selendri’s misfortune or watching the Amusement Wars. It would’ve been astonishingly gross if he’d thought it was okay to use Selendri’s pain for his pursuits, and it’s one of those things that can really make me hate a writer’s story. So, I’m glad it eats at Locke.
Wendy: Locke has never been shown to be a cruel person. Even when he seeks to hurt someone, there is usually a sense of justice behind it–this person is deserving of the pain. I never read him as someone who went out of his way to concern himself with the welfare of others if he was not directly involved in said welfare. He saved the nobles at the end of Lies, but that and everything he does seems to be incredibly self-serving. I don’t think he could have walked away from Gentled nobles without any sense of guilt at not saving them, but I do think he would have been able to get over that easily enough, especially since he still has the lost of his friends to deal with. This book has intrigued me though because it has revealed another side to Locke that struck me first when he paid tribute to the dead man in the cage of wasps:
“Crooked Warden,” Locke muttered under his breath, speaking quickly, “a glass poured on the ground for a stranger without friends. Lord of gallants and fools, ease this man’s passage to the Lady of the Long Silence. This was a hell of a way to die. Do this for me and I’ll try not to ask for anything for a while. I really do mean that this time.”
2. “I think Selendri can be sweet-talked, at least a little bit.”
…what do you think? What do you make of Selendri so far?
Tiara: I like Selendri a lot. I do think it’s unfair of Locke to prey on her vanities, especially considering her circumstances and how vicious her own self view could be, but I’m glad there is at least some remorse for that. I know she’s a means to an end for Locke, and karma will probably punish Locke in some hilarious way for it in the end. Her story about how she became disfigured was heartbreaking, and I can definitely understand why she’d be so wary and distrustful of people while being loyal to Requin who was the only person who tried to help her. I can’t pin down too much on her just yet, but she seems capable and not someone you’d want as an enemy.
Wendy: Selendri is someone clearly not to be messed with, but the story of her disfigurement and the loyalty to each other that it revealed in both her and Requin was very moving. I did not like the idea of Locke seeking to manipulate her because I have developed a soft spot for her. Pity? Perhaps. Though I don’t imagine Selendri would appreciate my pity one bit and I suspect Locke’s attempts to manipulate her will not work out as one might expect. Lynch is pretty good and keeping me on my toes!
3. “You are thieves. I am offering you a chance to help steal history itself.”
Now that Stragos’s plan is laid bare before us, what do you make of his purported ambitions – and of his strategy for achieving them?
Tiara: I have to go with Locke on this one. Stragos is a fucking lunatic. It’s not just the fact that he wants to send them to sea. This whole plan he has for making the Navy great again is ambitious, convoluted, and ill thought out. You want Locke and Jean to become a captain and first mate when they can barely stomach the sea. I don’t care what kind of puppet you have accompanying them. You want them to commit acts of piracy, but still somehow come back to the city for their vitamins to curtail the poison. You have this grand scheme that has so many holes it can’t do anything but backfire in the end. Not to mention Stragos sounds like he is literally foaming at the mouth insane. This gif just sums up this whole idea. (He really is like Cutler Beckett from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.)
Wendy: lol what more can I say after Tiara posts that gif?
4. “Then I may report to my masters that the plan is underway?”
How many different factions do you think are in play at this stage? Any ideas who Merrain might be working for?
Tiara: We know for sure that we have Requin, Stragos, and the Bondsmagi. I believe that the Priori are probably lurking around somewhere in the background, probably not being as stupid as Stragos thinks they are. I’m not sure I can say at this point who Merrain is working for. It might be safe to assume that she might be working for the Priori, but I don’t think so. Someone is trying to assassinate Locke and Jean in a more obvious manner than the Bondsmagi. I feel like that might be the Priori for whatever reason. Maybe they have an idea that Locke and Jean are two cogs in some scheme Stragos is cooking up since there seems to be some animosity between Stragos and the Priori. If they’re the ones trying to kill Locke and Jean, then it might not make much sense to have Merrain save them or set up such an elaborate scheme to orchestrate their deaths. Also, since Merrain is working with Stragos, she’s likely not working for the Priori since she does have some knowledge of Stragos’ plan to send them to sea.
Wendy: My first thought is the Bondsmagi, but while they seem to be all knowing and can be subtle and crafty if they want to be, that doesn’t seem prudent for them here. The Priori seems to be the likely Other Party, if only because we haven’t seen them yet and don’t know–beyond what we know from the likes of Requin and Stragos–what they stand for and how they go about their business.
Optional extra: Now let’s be frivolous. How cool are Verrari job titles? Eye of the Archon. Consulting Poisoner. Second Mistress of the Great Guild of Artificers. What would you like your Verrari job title be?
Tiara: Residing Ambassador of Ethical Racketeering, Mistress of Phalanx Inspiration and Managed Mischief, Project Evangelista (Yes, that’s all one title. LOL.)
Wendy: Executive Assistant and Technical Bridgemaster of the Office of The Most Auspicious of Being.