Book Review – Red Seas Under Red Skies

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. You can read my review of it here. (Please click on my Amazon links to help support this blog.) In keeping with my recent goal to finish or catch up with series that I enjoyed, I set out to read the next two books.

This review is for Red Seas Under Red Skies, book 2 in the Gentleman Bastards series. You should read the first book as it is important to know what happened to the characters before this one. However, the plot of this book is relatively contained and doesn’t absolutely require knowledge of the past events.

Locke Lamora and his best friend Jean Tannen have fled their home of Camorr in the aftermath of the events in book 1. Now destitute, Locke sinks into a drunken depression and resists Jean’s attempts to rouse him. They eventually start anew in the island city of Tal Verrar, known for its gambling and games. The story is told in alternating timelines to depict this, much like in book 1.

The two thieves flaunt the rules, of course, and scheme to break into the legendary vaults of the Sinspire. At the same time, they are recruited to work for the Archon of the city in a way that they cannot refuse. After trying to play both sides against each other, the plot leaps to the Sea of Brass, where Locke and Jean have to pretend to be pirates, never having sailed a ship before.

Of course their ruse doesn’t fool the real pirates, and things just get more interesting from there. I have no idea how all of these plot threads were brought together at the end, but somehow they were. The ending was satisfying but also heartbreaking, leaving some things up in the air for the next book.

The pirates are basically the best part of the book. There’s swashbuckling, sword-fighting, sailing, and ship battles! The characters were great, and the author works Locke and Jean into their lives perfectly.

I have already read the next book, The Republic of Thieves, so look for that review soon. Despite the devastating events that occur, there is much humor and enjoyment to be found in these books as Locke and Jean scheme to outdo themselves with each successive heist.

Read more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Dark Prophecy

Dark Prophecy is book #1 in the Soul Storm series by Ann Gimpel. I had read an earlier version of this book shortly after its release, and the author released a revised version of this series a few years later. Since I had never finished reading the series *and* one of my goals for the year is to finish reading series, I picked up this book to re-read before delving into the next two.

My original review was written about the first version of the book, and can be found here under the title of Psyche’s Prophecy. I can’t say that I picked up on any major differences in terms of the character or plot, so I’m simply reprinting my review below.

In Dark Prophecy, author Ann Gimpel takes us to a near and possible future in which resources are scarce and rolling blackouts and gasoline shortages are increasing. Amid this burgeoning dystopia, psychotherapist Lara McGinnis stays busy, counseling disturbed teenagers, OCD patients, and couples with marital problems.

The story immediately takes on the trappings of a thriller before delving into the fantasy aspects that are at the heart of this mixed genre tale. Dr. McGinnis learns that patient Ken Beauchamp is abusing his pregnant wife and steps in to offer the woman assistance. Her help comes nearly too late. Mr. Beauchamp puts his wife in the hospital in critical condition, disappears from the authorities, and begins a course of stalking and retaliation upon Dr. McGinnis for her interference.

In her private practice as a psychotherapist, Lara has found that her long-time ability to read auras has always been handy. However, she has more frequent and disturbing visions as the conflict with Mr. Beauchamp and the unpredictable blackouts across the city continue. On top of this, a graduate student, one of her other patients, and even her live-in boyfriend, Trevor, have all had a common dream. Lara tries to solve this mystery while everything around her spirals deeper into chaos and her visions become darker.

The first half of this book kept me up at night, both as a page-turner and in sympathetic fear for Dr. McGinnis. This is a very good thing if you’re a fan of that type of story, but if the thought of having a stalker break into your residence will give you nightmares, then you may want to read this only during daylight hours.

As the story progresses, Lara must face who she is and what her paranormal abilities mean. There are dark forces at work other than Ken Beauchamp, and ancient mythologies turn out to have real relevance to modern life. Lara and Trevor’s characterization sparkled as they confronted new facets to Lara’s power and the inevitable changes to their world.

In the second half of the book, I felt like the tension lagged. Although to be fair, it was more like the type of tension changed, because this is where the fantasy aspects became heavier. A lot of information about magic, witches, and power is introduced that seems more like buildup for the next volume.

While there is a definite conclusion to this book, there are also many questions left unanswered. Dark Prophecy is the first book in a trilogy and I’m reading the second volume, Dark Pursuit, right now.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Book Review – Crucible of Gold

As one of my reading goals for 2019, I planned to finish reading several book series that I had enjoyed but never completed. One such series was the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, which brings dragons into the military of the Napoleonic Wars. I found that the sixth book (Tongues of Serpents) really dragged, so it took me a while to get back to the series.

Crucible of Gold is book #7 and picks up from the end of book #6 with Laurence and Temeraire still exiled to Australia. But this time, instead of wandering through a mainly uninhabited land, he is finally sent off to do something more interesting.

The French expansion now threatens Spain and Brazil, and Laurence is thought to be the best person to negotiate with the Tswana people as they threaten the Portuguese leaders in Rio. With Australia deemed reasonably close to Brazil, Laurence and Temeraire are sent off via ship for the New World. Of course, things do not go as expected, and one tragic event galvanized the story and made me truly wonder where it was going once more.

Eventually, they encounter the Inca and make a series of narrow escapes. The different human-dragon interactions and the variety of cultures was one of the more unique aspects of the story at this point. Much of the rest of the book involved travel from one place to the next, with a generally less focused story than the early books.

Interestingly, I found that starting with this book, each installment becomes less of a self-contained story. Each volume has a more indistinct ending and flows into the next book. At the same time, there are also larger jumps between places and time within one book.

This was still a better book than Tongues of Serpents and gave me hope for the last two books.

Find more of my book reviews here.

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