Thieving Thursday: Red Seas Under Red Skies 5

Two ships on high seas under full sail. Text: Red Seas under Red Skies - Gentleman Bastards Read-along

Locke and Jean have been accepted aboard the Poison Orchid, and have convinced Zamira Drakasha to put her crew at risk to avert a bigger threat from the Archon. But can they do enough damage to persuade Stragos to part with the antidote – without the Poison Orchid and her crew falling into his hands?

It’s our final week on the Sea of Brass and it’s a turbulent one.

1) Backstabbing! Rodanov & Jacqueline Colvard plot to hand Drakasha over as soon as she’s over the horizon. Were you surprised?

We’d had ample suggestion that Rodanov disapproved of Drakasha’s plan, and the narrative had gone out of its way to make us clear that he has an exceptionally large ship. If he was going to be a supportive ally, we probably didn’t need to know so comprehensively that he’s the only pirate Drakasha steps lightly around!

However, I’d forgotten about Jacqueline Colvard, and while her backstabbing is limited to the implicit support of not stopping Rodanov (not that she could have done) – which is technically just extending her oath of non-interference to not interfering with him either – it made me sad. Never trust a pirate. Especially an old pirate. They’ve seen it all before, and learnt the wiles.


2) Thieves prosper. The rich remember. Locke makes a point at the Salon Corbeau. Did Ravelle make a good pirate in the end?

I was delighted by Ravelle’s rebirth – he’s a colourful, swashbuckling pirate given to exuberant gestures. I can see exactly why he annoys Stragos (more Jack Sparrow than Blackbeard), but he’s awfully entertaining to watch.

And it was awfully satisfying to see Salon Corbeau sacked. However, I say that without considering the consequences too hard. The games at Salon Corbeau are despicable, and the place deserved to be torn down. However, there were livelihoods at stake (the artisans workshops may have gone untouched, but the economic basis supporting them has been up-ended), and this is one time I would really have liked to have seen some Robin Hood in action – all the wealth seized distributed back to those poor souls who were driven to take part in the games.


3) A glass raised to air for a fallen friend. Given our discussions about Nazca, how do you feel about Ezri?

Zamira Drakasha and Ezri Delmastro are two of my favourite characters. I can’t argue with Ezri’s intervention as it’s entirely in character – she always hurls herself into the thick of a fight and she’s devoted to the Poison Orchid – but I think I’m more devastated with each reread. Knowing what’s coming makes it worse – watching her and Jean fall for each other is just painful when you know how it ends.

So I may never forgive Scott Lynch for Ezriane Delmastro.

That said, I’m not calling it fridging. Ezri chose her death and I see it as an act of heroism – it’s about who she is and what she cares about, not about Jean.


4) At the end, our thieves have successfully delivered a revolution and been disappointed in all their hopes. How do you feel about the outcome?

Once again, the Bastards have lost everything. Even the Sinspire job has paid out a mere pittance (well played, Requin), and it’s no longer safe to show their faces in Tal Verrar. The Priori may theoretically owe them the city, but – even though he outwitted them – I wouldn’t trust Requin not to want to teach them a lingering, painful lesson.

I remember being horrified at the open ending on my first read (and then spending years wondering what happened next. YEARS). I’m still horrified – if not surprised – at Locke switching the antidote. It’s an expression of love and a complete betrayal. It’s also cowardice. We know Locke simply can’t cope with losing Jean. Locke knows he can’t cope with losing Jean. Dying is easier. Jean is more likely to bounce back – but given everything he has just lost… it’s anyone’s guess how well he will do so. My heart bleeds for him.


Final thoughts:

I’m slightly relieved to discover it’s never spelled out who Merrain works for, but I’ll go out on a limb and say her sword and vine tattoo points a finger at the Kingdom of the Seven Marrows. I suspect we’ll see her again – perhaps in The Thorn of Emberlain – so she’d better watch her back.

I don’t love Red Seas Under Red Skies as much as I did on first reading it. This time, I’ve been conscious of just how long it takes to get going, which makes for some peculiar pacing. I also enjoy the latter portions so much more (PIRATES!) that it makes for a slightly unbalanced read. I still enjoy it enormously, but The Lies of Locke Lamora remains my clear favourite.


Take a tour of our responses to this final week:


It’s been rough sailing. We’ll be travelling on to Karthain when we catch our breath. In the meantime, a quick look back across the read-along:

Want to join us in Karthain? Just leave a comment below to join the gang. We’ll be taking a hiatus in June, and arriving in The Republic of Thieves on July 7th.