Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

The basics

Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies


Series: Gentleman Bastard #2

- The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006)
- Red Seas Under Red Skies (2007)
- The Republic of Thieves (2013)
- The Thorn of Emberlain (2015)
- The Ministry of Necessity
- The Mage and the Master Spy
- Inherit the Night

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can't run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.

The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It's the sort of challenge Locke simply can't resist...

...but Locke's perfect crime is going to have to wait.

Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards' expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don't know one end of a galley from another.

Read a full summary of Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch below. If you can’t remember what happened in Red Seas Under Red Skies and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

in short

Locke and Jean are trying to con a man called Requin when they are recruited by a man called Stragos, who wants to create a pirate uprising so that the state will start funding him again. He poisons Locke and Jean to get them to work for him. Locke and Jean are trained in the art of pirating, and Locke is briefly the captain of Stragos’ ship but that went up in smoke when he forgot to bring any cats aboard. Captain Zamira Drakasha picks them up and talks to the pirate council once Locke tells her Stragos’ plan. Meanwhile, Jean falls in love with a pirate called Ezri. Drakasha and her crew go back to Tal Verrar and there’s a fight and Ezri dies. Jean and Locke pull off their con on Requin, or so they think, and then go back to Stragos. Stragos is defeated by a guy and Merrain kills the alchemist so they only have one antidote to the poison.

what happened in Red Seas Under Red Skies?


  • In the flashbacks, we see how Locke and Jean prepare for two years to pull off this con on Requin at his Sinspire. We also see how Jean helped Locke pull through by making him exercise and basically telling him when he was being an idiot. Jean takes command of a small organisation of petty thieves. Because he’s a BAMF.
  • Locke and Jean learn that Requin is obsessed with art. They go over the fact that the vault is pretty much impossible to get into. They decide to pose as Talishani.
  • Jean goes to see Gallardine about getting into a certain vault. Gallardine is like, yo, I can’t help you break into my own masterpiece, since she built it. Gallardine explains how Selendri wore a costume that was sprinkled with alchemical powder that boiled her skin, and no one came forward when Requin tried to find out who did it. So Requin killed them all. So basically Gallardine doesn’t want to cross Requin because he’s a badass.
  • Locke goes to see Master Baumondain about making him some chairs. While Baumondain is doing that, we learn about the Amusement War. Basically it’s held in a colosseum and poor people are used as human chess pieces. Two War Masters get to move their people around the colosseum and when a person is “taken”, which means they will either be beaten or sold to the crowd for fun. They’re basically gladiators. Baumondain explains that the poor people take part in the games because it’s their best chance at making a living.
  • FLASHBACK WITHIN A FLASHBACK – Chains tells Locke that he is not owned by Barsarvi. He intends for Locke to break the secret peace one day.
    The chairs are finished and Locke gets annoyed with himself for leaving without doing anything.
  • Jean and Locke go abseiling because why not. A man threatens to cut the ropes on them but they trick him into letting them go. Locke gives the man some money and tells him he owes them a favour.


  • Locke and Jean have been exiled from Camorr after the events in The Lies of Locke Lamora. They decide to pull off a con in Tal Verrar, a coastal city where there’s a giant gambling house called the Sinspire.
  • After leaving Camorr, Locke fell into a pit of depression because of what happened to Calo and Galdo and Bug. Jean helps him snap out of it because OTP.
  • Locke and Jean win a card game against two champions. Of course, they are cheating but still. No matter. This was to get Requin’s attention.
  • Locke and Jean leave the building and go to the Night Market, where suddenly the merchants start calling them by their real (or “real” in Locke’s case) names. Oh dear. The Bondsmagi are obviously behind this. “The Falconer of Karthain sends his regards.” BOOM. OUT.
  • Anyway, Locke approaches Selendri, Requin’s lover/second/awesome bodyguard, and tells her that he and Jean are master cheaters in a “take me to your leader” type way. Locke demonstrates to both Selendri and Requin how skilled he is at cheating and cards. He then tells Requin that he is employed by a person who wants to get into the safest vault to ever vault. Locke tells Requin that he’s telling him this because he’s on the look out for a new job, and that Jean is no longer his friend. Halp.
  • Requin lets Locke go but says he will keep an eye on him. He also takes some of Locke’s money away from his account because of the chearing thing. Oops.
  • Locke and Jean are abducted because that is the sort of shit that goes down here in Tal Verrar. Stragos, the Supreme Warlord of Tal Verrar, has them. He knows who Locke and Jean are because the Bondsmagi told him. Nice. He poisons Locke and Jean and then tells them that he needs them to do stuff for them.
  • No one knows what kind of poison Stragos gave to Locke and Jean, so they’re pretty much fucked. Locke goes to see Requin again and tells him that Stragos is his employer. Requin tells Locke that Stragos pretty much controls the army and the navy. Requin says Locke may join him when Stragos is dead. Jean is not pleased with this plan because he thinks Locke is about to cause a civil war. Duh, Jean, he’s Locke Lamora.
  • On the way home Locke and Jean are attacked again, but Merrain saves them.
  • Stragos tells Locke and Jean that he has a plan for them. In the past, there was a pirate uprising that Stragos ended. Now he wants Locke and Jean to cause another one so that the Priori will start funding him again.
  • Stragos shows off his mechanical garden. He’s planning on having common people surpass the Bondsmagi and the Eldren. He’s planning on beating Karthain with machines and alchemy rather than magic.
  • A man called Caldris teaches Locke and Jean how to be pirates. The most important thing is that there always needs to be a cat onboard a pirate ship.
    Locke presents Requin with one of his chairs. He’s very impressed. Obviously.
  • Locke and Jean break a bunch of pirates out of prison. They’re meant to leave the guards alive, which they do, but then Merrain goes back and kills most of them anyway. Rude.
  • Locke is now the captain of his own pirate ship. Caldris is onboard too, of course, to help out. Things start to go wrong when Locke realises he forgot the cats and also the women. Oops. A storm hits and Caldris dies, and so the men start to question Locke’s authority and also the lack of cats aboard the ship.
  • Jabril leads a mutiny and puts Locke and Jean on a lifeboat. From a distance, they watch as a pirate ship takes over The Red Messenger. This new ship is led by Zamira Drakasha. Locke tells Zamira that he used to work for the Priori. Zamira threatens Jean and Locke is like nah mate not my husband.
  • Drakasha throws a man overboard for disobeying her. Aw yisss.
  • Drakasha’s two children have ruined a couple of Locke’s playing cards. Drakasha wants to know if the cards are dangerous, and she goes to destroy them but Locke asks her to keep them in his chest.
  • They spot another ship and take over it. There’s a fight and Locke kills a few people. The rest of the crew suddenly look up to Locke. Jean is angry that Locke would destory all the pirate ships in order to get back at Stragos. Locke says Jean is angry because he’s in love with Ezri. Jean then snaps at Locke about Sabetha. *cough* married *cough*
  • Locke tells Zamira the truth about being “employed” by Stragos and the poison. He asks for her help.
  • The ship goes through a pass and it’s freakin’ creepy as a voice starts to call Locke and Jean by their real names, asking them to come to the water like a siren. Finally, they are through the pass and everything is better.
  • They reach the pirate island that is Port Prodigal. Zamira meets with the Council and tells them about Stragos’ plan. Some listen to her, some don’t. They agree that Zamira should go and stop the problem.
  • Ezri tells Jean she loves him. She asks him to stay on the ship when all this is finished. Jean asks her to go with him instead.
  • The Poison Orchid arrives back at Tal Verrar. Locke wants to continue his Sinspire con and he borrors money from Zamira. Locke goes to see Stragos, who is unhappy with Locke for losing The Red Messenger and about Caldris dying. Locke tells Stragos that Zamira knows about who his employer is, and Zamira’s plan is to launch the pirate war and then rule as a supreme pirate captain once all the others are dead.
  • Two men with crossbows attack Locke and Jean, and Jean pretends to turn against Locke. SAD TIMES. But also, Jean would never. Locke get upset because he didn’t realise Jean was lying. CRIES.
  • The Poison Orchid goes to a village and ransacks it to get Stragos’ attention. Stragos tells Locke and Jean about how much damage they’ve caused. Lawl.
  • Radanov arrives in Tal Verrar and attacks the Poison Orchid. One of his crew, Utgar, has betrayed Zamira. Utgar is holding a Shipsbane, which is an alchemical device that burns hot. Tregane shoots Utgar, who drops the Shipsbane. Jean tries to go after it but Ezri hits him and goes for it instead. She picks up the Shipsbane and throws it at Radanov’s ship. Ezri is set alight. Jean is upset and angry and he accuses Locke of not trying to stop Ezri.
  • Locke performs a funeral for those who died.
  • Locke and Jean tell Stragos that they’ve sunk more boats. Locke also says that they intend to carry out the Sinspire con that night. Stragos is, of course, angry.

how did it end?

They go to the Sinspire and Selendri meets them. They tell her that Stragos knows everything and obviously Selendri is angry. Requin leaves Locke and Jean in his room, which is an incredibly bad idea because Jean takes out guards and restrains Selendri. They tie her up and steal Requin’s expensive artwork.

Stragos sees Locke again and hits him. Stragos said he would have honoured their deal if they hadn’t killed the guards at the prison (which they didn’t do, btw, see above). Lyonis Cordo, who Locke went to see earlier, had replaced Stragos’ men with his own, and these men save Locke and Jean.

Stragos’ alchemist admits that he only had one full antidote for the poison that both Locke and Jean have been given. Locke says that he’ll take the alchemist to sea with them. Merrain takes out the alchemist (!!!!) and tries to kill Stragos but it doesn’t work.
Jean takes Stragos to Zamira, who intends to chain him up below deck. Jean and Locke are now heading for Vel Virazzo.

Requin meets with the Priori and convinces them to give him his own department in their new government. He plans on giving a position to Selendri. It’s revealed that the paintings that Locke and Jean stole were reproductions. Oops.

Locke finds out that the paintings are reproductions when he tries to sell them to a man called Acastus Krell. Instead of receiving 50,000 solari, he gets 2,500. Locke and Jean get on a boat and Jean tries to convince Locke to take the antidote. Locke has already slipped it into Jean’s wine, though, because OTP LOCKE LOVES JEAN IT IS CANON.

That was our recap of what happened in Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. Check out our recap list for more plot summaries, and if you can’t find what you need you can request a recap here!

Other recaps for this series:

Leave a reply