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Republic of Thieves Read Along – Weeks 2 & 3

Last week, I didn’t get around to answering any questions. Why? Because during the weekend I was in Brighton, meeting Scott and fellow Right People. Without my laptop. So I think I may be excused. This week, I’m doing both last and this week’s questions though!

WEEK TWO

Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?

I don’t think the pain and such will come back to haunt him, but oh, I do hope the ghost Bug will keep nagging at him because it was amazing! My heart was racing as I read it in the middle of the night! It was unexpected, and discomfiting, and I loved it! And I like sins-written-in-the-eyes thing, absolutely gorgeous.

Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?

I’ve got to say I squealed with utter delight on seeing the title of this interlude. I was hoping we’d see it some day! It intrigued me when it was mentioned in RSURS, and now we got it! I’m an absolute sucker for rituals and rules and all that, so it really hit the spot.

As to the Locke-Sabetha rivalry, well. At this point it seems Locke gets the things Sabetha wants, which is unfair considering how much drive she has, how hard she works, how ambitious she is, as opposed to his kind of drifting to places and turning out to be a natural. I wished Sabetha had gotten the final initiation, although of course we knew Locke was getting it. But there was that small flickering of hope they’d both get it…

Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?

I’m not really concerned with the Eldren, never have been. I like cities and countries and cultures and societies, but am not all that infatuated by obscure mysteries – something that probably sounds odd coming from a fantasy reader, but there it is. Mannerpunk is my thing more than epic fantasies. Unless it turns out the Eldren were rather people-like, I’m fine with anything we’re revealed about them. I am, however, interested in the magi of Karthain, those high-and-mighty assholes. Very, very interesting, they are, and I definitely like it that their power is far from infinite and that they are far from invincible.

Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?

Oh-ho-hoo, I love the teenage Bastards! Especially the twins! They are such annoying little ass-hats that you can’t but love them! I completely understand Chains, I would need a break, too. He’s harsh with them at this point, sure, but if you’ve lived with surly teenagers you know how bloody annoying it can get.

The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?

I think the addiction really adds to his character. It’s a touch that gives him an identity, above that of a tool. He’s a person, he’s got weaknesses, an inconvenience, no matter how helpful he tries to be. I like it.

Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathise with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

Of course I sympathise with Sabetha! Being the only lady in a group of guys can be tough, and when you don’t get your voice heard except for occasionally – yeah, it’s frustrating. And wrong. Locke’s reasons for frustration make sense because you see things mostly through his focalisation and therefore understand him a bit better (not to mention we’ve had time to adjust to him over the course of two books), but when you think about Sabetha’s position it’s pretty clear why she is how she is. She’s tough, and she has to be. Where is Nazca, they should hang out more.

As an extra, I want to say how much I love it when Locke starts arranging security matters. There’s an urgency and a drive, and I enjoy it so so much. It’s great fun to read, and you can just hear the wheels spinning in his head, the sheer effort and joy of thinking. Love it to death!

WEEK THREE

The election competition.  Sabetha isn’t wasting any time throwing pranks at Locke and Jean.  Mostly it seemed fairly harmless, or at least not overly serious, until they were kidnapped and put onto a ship and taken out to sea.  What did you make of Sabetha’s latest plan? And what did you think about the way she executed it?

I readily admit I did not see it coming, and then chided myself because of course it was coming. It’s what I like about these books in general though – I’m always one-upped. I never expect the things that happen. And it’s great. Plus I think it was a very good plan, and I love the attention to detail Sabetha puts into it. It shows she knows them inside out. And I really appreciate the twenty men she placed outside the door to take Jean down, one of the most amusing things so far!

During the escape overboard and Jean’s rather subtle nose dive into the water – I was curious about the lights Locke saw deep in the water when he was performing his rescue – Locke thought they looked different once he was under the waves which I suppose they would but he also had the feeling that he was being watched?  Do you think this relates back to the Eldren or some other presence?

They’re probably something to do with the Eldren, given that no one seems to know what they are. Maybe something related to the mist at Parlour Passage (in RSURS)? For some reason I’d like to think so, although it might be the way in which the phenomenon’s are described, with that eerie Moomin Ghost Ship tone, and the connection to water and ships.

Given that Locke hadn’t seen Sabetha for five years how did you think their first meeting together went (well, it wasn’t strictly speaking their first meeting of course – were you surprised that Jean and Locke hadn’t figured out that the woman pickpocket was Sabetha?) and also what did you make of Jean and Sabetha’s reaction to each other?

Again, one of my favourite scenes. You need to reread it to see what was going on, once you’ve read it once. Ever so amused! At some point I started suspecting this was Sabetha though, as what are the odds she would find such an accomplished pickpocket in Karthain, where the underworld is quite non-existent? No, there’s no one who could match Sabetha in that respect, and oh the pure joy of it! It’s always good fun to see Locke so outplayed. You think you’re so clever mister.

So, the gang have arrived in Espara and already the plans have gone wrong through no fault of their own!  Jail for a year plus lose a hand for slapping a noble?? What do you think of the justice system in Espara and how does this bode for the gang?

Jasmer’s punishment serves to show that Esparans are not very tolerant, and you can only imagine the punishment for murder or some such crime. I will take this opportunity to say how much I like these little cities in the book. Espara is wonderful, by the sounds of it very small but having pretences at grandeur, and don’t even get me started on Lashain! I hope we go back there at some point, in the novels or in whatever short stories and novellas are forthcoming. Lashain seems like an excellent place for a game, a good place to exercise your attention to detail, with all the strict societal rules and the constant assessment of your peers. I’m only sad we didn’t stay there longer…

The acting company are finally coming together and we’re watching the gang as they try to read, act and grab the best parts – are you all ‘happy face’ with the whole theatre scenes or, sad face!  Also, I can’t help feeling like this whole storyline is a step out of character for the gang.  Any ideas of how it will play out?

Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the play: I don’t usually care for much recited fictional things inside fictional things, if you get my meaning. Having said that, I utterly enjoy the play The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death in Ellen Kushner’s The Privilege of the Sword, and therefore feel inclined to give especially plays some consideration inside narratives. Republic of Thieves is so Shakespearean that the metre (or lack thereof) bothers me to some extent, although of course there’s no reason to expect it there.

On discussing the play on tumblr, there arose some speculation as to the characterization and the correspondence to the Bastards and their immediate circle – but that’s a conversation for later, I think.

We are also being introduced to a number of new characters, particularly Moncraine and Boulidazi.  What are your first impressions of these two and the other new characters in the Company and any particular likes or dislikes so far?

Jasmer is exasperating, but I kind of write him off as an artist and let him be. Boulidazi, though… He makes me uncomfortable. He’s not all that smart or sophisticated, but he’s not unobservant, and that spells trouble. He draws conclusions very much to Locke and Sabetha’s advantage here, but that is also a dangerous aspect, because he takes what he sees for granted and doesn’t really stop to ponder on alternative explanations.

And I have a soft spot for nobility, titles, the upper class society. The social history fan in me squealed with delight when he asked how he should address Locke and Sabetha. I’ve marked it down as “useful information”.

The rooftop scene and the apology.  How did it all go so wrong?  And how will Locke get out of this latest fix with Boulidazi?

I refer you to my previous answer. Boulidazi interprets things based on his observations and doesn’t really entertain any thoughts of other options. Dangerous, very dangerous.

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Republic of Thieves Read Along – Week 1

It is time for the read-along, and I’m running late! I’m always done with my reread, as I want to be done before next weekend and the Brighton meet-up, so bear with me – I have my book next to me so I can check what’s happened and when, as I don’t know this one as well as the previous ones yet. Let’s get on with the questions, shall we?

(Short note: These read-along posts will end up looking way different from those I wrote last year, mostly because I haven’t read with an eye out for quotations. I’m sad not to be able to do it that way again, but perhaps in the future.)

We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Calo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?

Happy dance! Without a doubt a happy dance! Oh, how I missed the twins and Chains! The Sanzas are even more annoying than I remember them – or ever conceived them – and Chains is just himself, with a tad more unsolved mystery, which drives me up the walls. I’m not kidding. I want to know more about him.

Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?

I’m not going to comment much on this, as my impressions have formed on basis of the book as a whole, and although I’m pretty sure it won’t wreck havoc on anyone’s perception of her, I’d rather be simple. Young Sabetha is all edges and sharp words, which makes me apprehensive of her: the only time she softens is when she takes the trio of misfits to the hanging, and even that doesn’t change my attitude towards her. But she is clever, oh so clever, and thinks extremely well on her feet. She has my respect, if not my affection.

After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?

I was actually expecting more mourning on his part. Or rather hoped for it. But of course, Jean is practical and rather throws himself to work than wallows in his feelings – the very opposite of Locke, actually. We saw that in Red Seas, and we see it here. When he brings up Ezri in Lashain, well, that got me in tears. Actually, I’ll quote that here, just so I’m not the only one crying:

What are you going to tell the woman I loved? The woman who burned so you could have the slightest chance in hell of even being here in the first place? If I can get up and live with that every gods-damned day, then so can you, you son of a bitch.” (98)

Gods damn you, Jean Tannen. You and your bloody big heart.

Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?

I’d say it’s wise. Locke if someone knows about semantics, a feature that particularly appeals to me, and he knows you don’t make deals with this kind of people without making absolutely sure both sides know what is implied, what is offered, what is off the table. As to what I would ask of Patience, I don’t know. Largely the same things as Locke, and he got a couple that I wouldn’t have thought of.

At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?

This is Locke and Jean. If something can interfere with their life and plans and everything included, it will.

 

So that’s it for this week! I apologise for being short and saying very little, but I hope that as we get on I will have more to say and more time to write it down in a coherent, semi-intelligent fashion!

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along: WEEK 5

Shamefully late! I do beg your pardon!

“Now, if you find yourself in trouble wherever you go, you can hold up that little bag to whoever’s bothering you, and you san say, ‘You have no idea who you’re fucking with. I’m under the protection of the lady who gave me this object of her favour.’”

“And that’s supposed to make them stop?”

“Shit, no, that’s just to confuse them. Then you kill them while they’re standing there looking at you funny.”

I sob like a baby at the end of the battle. Like in Lies, Jean’s emotional reaction is so heartfelt and honest that it just breaks my heart. Even though I don’t like the kamikaze mode his grief seems to activate in him, it’s understandable. I don’t yet know whether he will recover, although of course I hope he will, eventually. He’s a down-to-earth guy, he will soon enough admit to himself that he can’t just keep living in grief and continue with his life (particularly now that Locke has forced him into it).

“What? How dare I contemplate doing what you’re now planning to do to me? You self’righteous strutting cock, I’ll – “

“What?”

“ – I’ll throw myself at you, and you’ll beat the shit out of me. And then you’ll feel awful! How about that, huh?”

Merrain! Oh, she’s just so very interesting! I’ve marked all the bits that give some sort of a clue about her identity. She might (hopefully) turn up in Republic of Thieves? I certainly want her to, because I want to know. Why is it so important no one knows she’s actually working for someone else than Stragos? Maybe she works for the bondsmagi, and the tattoo marks him as their foot soldier or something? A sword and a vine. That could be just about anything. I’m fairly certain she works on orders, and the way she wants to stick to them could mean she’s very dedicated to her master. Her calm and skill seem to denote experience.

Locke mimed shoving a dagger into an invisible Archon of Tal Verrar. It was so satisfying he mimed it again.

Now that I looked carefully and knew what Locke and Jean were up to with Requin, you could actually spot some hints. They are pretty casual, like Locke looking out of the window in Requin’s study, and Selendri leaning against the wall between two paintings etc. Very sneaky, Mr Lynch, very sneaky! I think it’s a wonderful game. It would, of course, have been wonderfully clever of Locke to get someone to tell him whether the paintings were fake or not (was there any mention of it being common knowledge that they would be real?), but he’s not an expert in art fraud or anything like that so he probably didn’t think about it that way. Requin’s not an idiot, although he’s rich, and I guess the Bastards are used to rich people who are stupid and trusting.

Requin seemed to derive a perverse pleasure in seating the seven Priori on fine chairs in the midst of the chaos and pretending that all was perfectly normal.

I’m just really fond of Requin. Particularly in the end. I think he’s quite amused by the fact that he got robbed and still got the upper hand. He’s my favourite of the sort of background characters. Him and Merrain, the latter for the mystery. Yes. Of course, Requin and Selendri and Jean and Ezri as couples, but if concentrated on just single characters… Requin and Merrain.

“Zamira, enough. Enough Ravelle this, Kosta that. Around the crew, sure. But my friends call me Locke.”

It feels so wrong to say this, but I guess I like The Lies of Locke Lamora more. The time structure is clearer, and we stay in one city. It just feels more comfortable. However, Red Seas offers a new depth to Locke and Jean.

Oh Lynn, do you even need to ask? The moment Republic of Thieves hits the stores I’ll be there. I’m sort of hoping it would be published in time for Christmas holidays, because then I could just read it and go nuts and it would interfere with schoolwork. On the other hand, it can’t be out soon enough. Fingers crossed it really happens this year!

Emerging from a long spell of false-facing could be like coming up for air after nearly drowning, Locke thought. Now all the baggage of their multi-tiered lies and identities was peeling away, sloughing off behind them as they pounded up the stairs to the Golden Steps one last time. Now that they knew the source of their mystery assassins, they had no need to sham as priests and skulk about; they could run like simple thieves with the powers of the city close on their heels.

Which was exactly what they were.

All good things must end, it would seem. I want to thank all of you lovely people who participated, and naturally the wonderful hosts of the read-alongs! It’s been a blast! We’ll see how long it takes to go back to not reading a dose of Lynch every week…

Almost forgot! I haven’t referred you people to Camorr, a website + forum dedicated to our favourite Bastards! It’s been quiet there for a while now, but things are very likely to spice up one Republic of Thieves comes out.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along: WEEK 4

“All bullshit. I’m a bullshit artist, Zamira. A false-facer. An actor, an impersonator. I didn’t have any noble motives when I made that request. My life just wasn’t worth much if I didn’t do something utterly crazy to win back some respect. I faked every second of composure anyone glimpsed this morning.”

It feels a bit weird to see Locke lay himself bare like that, but it’s also very moving. That’s one of the reasons I like this chapter so much. He has to decide whether to trust or not, as he says himself, and he knows Jean is right in the matter. I dare say it would have been easier to go on lying if he’d not been part of the crew at any point and thus didn’t know anyone personally, but in now… Well, I would have been disappointed in him if he could have just given them to Stragos after all that scrub-watching.

“Gods, whatever’s out there knows my real name.”

“Mine as well.”

“I mean, it’s not calling me Locke. It knows my real name.”

“Oh. Shit.”

Took the words straight out of my mouth, Jean. That mist is creepy. It could be that the mist is some sort of chemical that affects the brains, and so it’s Locke’s own head talking to him, and naturally he knows his own real name. But it’s not just random mist, it comes from somewhere or is emitted by someone or something and that something/one uses the mist to lure its victims. It’s mentioned that Jean sees a dark shape, but that’s not really too much to go on.

It’s frightening in general, to think that something might know Locke’s real name. Jean would never tell anyone, but if the Bondsmagi got it… *shudder*

Also, if you have ever watched the 90s TV series Moomins, there’s an episode with a ghost ship that creeps the hell out of me even to this day. The ship glides out from the mists with ripped-up sails and passes through the bow of the boat the Moomins are in. The music is scary, and I hear parts of it reading the Parlour Passage bit.

“Legs are open, old man. Can you really get it up?”

I love the selling of the Red Messenger. I think Locke enjoys himself enormously, pulling off something he’s sure about. It’s a pretty simple trick, as he points out, but he was posing as a captain for a rather long time without a clue about what to do, and now he gets to be in total control of the situation. Must feel good, be doing something he has in hand the whole time for a change.

All the names, then. I don’t know whether Lynch does it on purpose, but I doubt Locke has the identities muddled up any more than the reader does. Of course, this is kind of reminiscent of what Arsène Lupin says in The Escape of Arsène Lupin: “… there comes a time when you cease to know yourself amid all these changes, and that is very sad. I feel at present as the man must have felt who lost his shadow…” (I’m shamelessly quoting from The Quantum Thief – that quote is at the beginning. But looking it up on Gutenberg would have taken forever.) We’ll see if this happens to Locke. Maybe one day there’ll be a game so elaborate he needs a dozen names and then slips with a character, and has to either think very quickly or run like hell.

“Look, we almost got killed today. Fuck these games. Do you want to have a drink with me?”

Ngh. Jean and Ezri. Damn them for being so infuriatingly adorable! Gods. I just squeal every time they are talking together. Or just mentioned in the same sentence. OTP? I think so!

Then something that bothered me in the last chapter. When Locke and Jean go to Sinspire, Selendri says, “Stay here in the service area, Valora.” Now, have I missed something? Shouldn’t Selendri be calling Jerome “de Ferra”? Did Locke at some point tell Requin what their names on board would be? If someone whose brain is working better would tell me what I’ve missed I’d be grateful. Almost lost sleep over it last night – I’ve never noticed it before.

“Tonight is delicate business. Misstepping in Port Prodigal after midnight is like pissing on an angry snake. I need – “

“Ahem. Originally, we’re from Camorr.”

“Oh. Be on the boat in five minutes.”

Teehee. That amuses me greatly. Go Camorr!

Ahem. Yes, that’s it for this week. Last section to go. One week. We’ll see what happens!

“Crooked Warden, I will fear no darkness, for the night is yours. Your night is my cloak, my shield, my escape from those who hunt to feed the noose. I will fear no evil, for you have made the night my friend.”

 

EDIT:// I found that episode of Moomins in English! It loses some of the creepiness in the English dub, unfortunately, and the music I associate with the ship is for the most part not in here but in a later part (apparently – it’s been long since I’ve watched these!) – but it’s still scary. The scene with the ship starts somewhere around 11 minutes, but feel free to watch the whole episode! 😀 Moomins are very entertaining.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along WEEK 3

Okay. This is going to be a very, very random post. I wrote it Friday night, just after the questions arrived, and if I touch it too much now it will become very dull and short. (Vocabulary marvellously expands during the night, I find.)

Some of the set questions will be discussed, some not, and nothing is likely to be in any kind of order. Bear with me.

 

“Well, splendid. Once again we’ve engineered a brilliant escape from immediate peril and stolen something of value to take with us. This boat must be worth two solari.”

 

Seeing as I learned the word “mutiny” from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, my mental images come heavily from that movie. As indeed do a lot of my mental images on piracy, to be frank.

“What do you mean, you haven’t been turning the glasses?”

“Captain Ravelle, sir, beggin’ your double-fuckin’ pardon, but we ain’t had no time to turn the glasses nor mind the log since… hell, I suppose I can’t say. Awhile now.”

Did anyone go “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh SHIT!” when Caldris died? ‘Cause I remember the first I read that. I’d been reading all evening, it was probably two thirty in the morning and I really really REALLY needed to get some sleep in and then Caldris goes and dies and Locke and Jean are in the middle of a storm and oh gods. It was horrible. Now at least I can take a deep breath and assure myself that it’s okay. It’s too bad about Caldris though, I like him.

“I’ll wager I would have screwed things up regardless. But… can you imagine those poor bastards grappling their prey, leaping over the rails, swords in hand, screaming, ‘Your cats! Give us all your gads-damned cats!’”

The practical reason for cats is probably the rat-catching, ‘cause that can naturally be a real problem. I’m sort of partial to rat-catching dogs, actually, but that’s because I’m a dog person. And maybe the cats are there partly because Mr Lynch has a cat (or cats?). But as for the symbolic reason for their necessity is what Caldris said about them: they are proud creatures, and they please Iono, so I suppose it’s the kind of religious thing you tend to get.

“Ah, that’s wonderful. Another fine chance to explain myself to someone. How I do so love explaining myself.”

Women! I forgot to say last week how much I love it that NOT having women on board is bad luck. Uh yeah, why wouldn’t it be? And we finally met Ezri! I like Ezri so much! She’s real fun and spunky, and a damned good officer it would seem. (This may be strange, but if anyone follows Team Starkid and their musicals, Ezri reminds me of Lauren Lopez. Not much, but… somehow.) She’s yet another detail I’d love to see on a big screen, and particularly in the All Souls In Peril chapter; first ordering the crew around, being all bad-ass, and then fighting on the Kingfisher, being even more bad-ass! She’s great. Any actress playing her would have to have a certain kind of voice though, at least to get my acceptance.

Locke responded with a two-handed gesture he’d learned as a boy, one guaranteed to start fights in any city-state of the Therin world. The crowd of pirates returned it, with many creative variations.

First we just kind of slipped to Jean’s perspective, and suddenly we find we’re in his head a lot. I like how sneaky that is, and it’s really nice to get a better picture of Jean. Particularly because he’s such a sweetheart. I hope the trend carries through the series, and I also think that it provides us with certain possibilities.

“Marvellously clever, Jabril! You’ve tracked me unerringly to the cabin in which I’ve been fast asleep and motionless all bloody night. Who tipped you off?”

I’m sort of uneasy about Paolo and Cosetta, but then again I’m always a little vary of children. Cosetta seems to have the makings of a pirate queen though (Moot nust!), and it would be very interesting how they turn up when they are older.

Locke Lamora was small, but the Thorn of Camorr was larger than any of this. The Thorn couldn’t be touched by blade or spell or scorn. Locke thought of the Falconer, bleeding at his feet. He thought of the Grey King, dead beneath his knife. He thought of the fortunes that had run through his fingers, and he smiled.

This was the first time that the appearance of the Thorn had such an impact on me. I reread that little bit several times, and afterwards it made me giddy to have all the present crew whisper about Locke. It’s just wonderful, to see him gain respect, although this is the kind of respect and reputation that might easily get him killed.

… Locke meant to hit it wearing the biggest lie of his life like a costume. He might be dead in a few seconds, but until then, by gods, he was the Thorn of Camorr. He was Captain Orrin fucking Ravelle.

Kills my heart, by the way, to have Jean and Locke argue like that.

Oh, and I really like the name Orrin Ravelle. Nice sound, it has.

“Hey, time comes to board her, I’ll row the boat naked and attack the bastards with my good fuckin’ looks. Just wait and see if she’s prey, is all I’m sayin’.”

Next week, some of my favourite bits coming up! More Ezri! More Drakasha! Cats! Ships! Pirates! Err… Yeah.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along WEEK 2

This week’s first question is about Requin and Selendri. If you’ve even skimmed through my monthly books, it’s pretty obvious I’m a sucker for romance – and gaaaaaaah, Selendri and Requin! The story behind her arm is just magic for me. It doesn’t do for me to read it just once, oh no – I read it a couple of times every reread. I think they are both tough, and they trust each other completely, despite what Requin said. They clearly want to protect each other, which completely endears them to me. It’s almost a pity Locke’s planning on robbing them.

“Ow! Madam, please! Allow me to introduce myself!”

“You’re too fat and well dressed to be an apprentice after patronage so you must be here to beg a favour, and when your kind says hello, it tends to take a while. No, shut up.”

Salon Corbeau. Ugh. The thought just makes me want to break something. It’s really awful. And knowing Locke’s background, it must be absolutely disgusting for him. The Amusement War is just cruel, and nothing else. Lynch really makes you feel it when that girl loses her hair. Horrid. Horrid, horrid, horrid.

In the same category comes the scene at Sinspire, with the stiletto wasps. (To lighten things up, is the Pokémon Beedrill familiar? That’s how I imagine stiletto wasps. Every time.) Locke’s sympathy breaks my heart, and the poor boy in the cage… Even though I just said I like Requin, there are limits. The wasps are not acceptable.

“Crooked Warden, 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 it this time.”

Locke’s soft side bothers me, just the slightest bit, although it would equally bother me if he didn’t care two shits about people suffering for nothing. Actually, that would be worse. So go on caring, Locke. That makes you human, and that’s good. (Well wasn’t that a pointless few sentences?)

The mysterious assassins! They bother me so much! Who the hell are they? Is this some sort of game the Bondsmagi play, hiring assassins and then make something happen that allow Locke and Jean to escape? So they can never relax?

And who is Merrain? She’s clearly not the Archon’s creature, at least not originally. So for whom does she work? Who sent her to the Archon, and why? Is she some sort of agent for the Bondsmagi? Does she anything at all to do with the pompous Karthani sons of bitches?

She gives me a headache, I’m telling you.

“Eh? Well, the ignorant need room in which to risk their lives without bothering anybody else for a while. This here’s our own private pissing-pond. Never mind the soldiers of the walls; they’ll ignore us. Unless we drown. Then they’ll probably laugh.”

Caldris is such a charmer. He’s not the kind of teacher I’d particularly like, but he sure as hell could make anyone learn. And he knows what he’s talking about. A soft spot for me he is, really.

For learning some nautical words, this book is excellent. Nothing too specific or hard, just stuff that a foreign-language landlubber like me has to check but won’t forget in a hurry. Very very simple stuff, but somewhat essential. Words that’ll come up in other books, too, like ‘doldrums’, ‘capstan’… And thanks to Scott Lynch I can now tell starboard from larboard! Rejoice!

“It is something like a madman’s private language, isn’t it? So intricate in its convolutions. Say you have a rope lying on the deck; after the third hour of the afternoon on Idler’s Day it’s a half-stroke babblegibbet, and then at midnight on Throne’s Day it becomes a rope again, unless it’s raining.”

“Unless it’s raining, yes, in which case you take your clothes off and dance naked round the mizzenmast. Gods, yes. I swear, Je… Jerome, the next person who tells me something like, ‘Squiggle-fuck the rightwise cock-swatter with the starboard jib,’ is going to get a knife in the throat. Even if it’s Caldris. … “

And oh, the quotability of this section! By Their Own Rope was the hardest bit to mark, because quite honestly it’s just a huge verbal explosion of fun. However, this time the winning quote came from a little before that:

“Maxilan, darling. I knew you were driven, but I had no idea you could smoulder. Come, take me now! Jean won’t mind; he’ll avert his eyes like a gentleman.”

Got some looks on the bus again for that. And again today.

One of the things that popped to mind while reading was how big a kick I got from the scene where Locke tries on the uniform. It’s always a pleasure to see him work the details and such, and I’m pretty certain the Archon was duly impressed, although his reaction was minimal. He has the file, so of course he knows Locke is good, but I don’t think he realised just how good.

Plus another thing I’m a sucker for is uniforms, and a blue uniform makes me think of the English naval officer’s uniform from the 19th century.

(That’s young Admiral Nelson, peeps. The uniform’s not the one he wore at Trafalgar, but I like this one better. Less glitter. You can read more about the portrait here, if you’re interested – and if you happen to find yourself in London, the National Maritime Museum is awesome!)

One more quote, then you’ll be free of me. For a week anyway.

“Master Fehrwight, who are you?”

“A man who’s dead serious about chairs.”

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Red Seas Under Red Skies Read-Along: WEEK 1

The first time I started Red Seas Under Red Skies, I’d had to wait a couple of months after Locke Lamora because of my last matriculation exams. Then, when the first chapter finally began, I squealed.

That still happens.

The game was Carousel Hazard, the stakes were roughly half of all the wealth they commanded in the entire world, and the plain truth was that Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen were getting beaten like a pair of dusty carpets.

What I wanted to mention first was the amazingly comfortable way Tal Verrar builds around you. For me, it’s a little too heavy on description and quite as masterful as the way Camorr was made, but the key word here is comfort. You get the feeling of Tal Verrar, and the money – particularly the money – is somehow very logical. When I read RSURS, it’s hard for me to remember what the currency in Camorr is. When reading Lies, solari and volani and centira slip my mind. The names are again easy to remember; Durenna, Corvaleur, Kosta, de Ferra, Stragos… I hate having to flip back pages to check who is who, and with Lynch I don’t have to do that because the names are easy.

“I suspect that drink has made you impulsive.”

“Drink makes me feel funny; the gods made me impulsive.”

Yes, there the alcohol is again, and at the very beginning! Carousel Hazard sounds like a fun game, even though I don’t care for cards all that much. And Kameleona – how awesome is that? You’d never get bored of it.

“Surely you boys can do simple sums. One plus one equals don’t fuck with me.”

I adore these two reminiscences. (Actually, all the reminiscences in this book, but we can get back to that later.) First there is Jean in Vel Virazzo, trying to cope and at the same time kick Locke’s arse. It’s amazing how he puts up with the moping angst!Locke. It’s just really amusing to watch how he gets Locke out of the inn and gets the fire burning again. One of my favourite conversations is this:

“That’s a sweet piece,” said Jean, briefly forgetting to be aggravated. “You didn’t snatch that off a street.”

“No,” said Locke, before taking another deep draught of the warm water in the decanter. “I got it from the neck of the governor’s mistress.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“In the governor’s manor.”

“Of all the – “

“In the governor’s bed.”

“Damned lunatic!”

“With the governor sleeping next to her.”

The night quiet was broken by the high, distant trill of a whistle, the traditional swarming-noise of the city watches everywhere. Several other whistles joined in a few moments later.

“It is possible,” said Locke with a sheepish grin, “that I have been slightly too bold.”

So good to get Locke back. It’s not long we have to suffer the idiot, but it’s enough. I hope we never see that again.

The second reminiscence, where they travel from Vel Virazzo to Tal Verrar, is interesting because we see some of the first steps of a big game. In Lies we saw a lot of preparations for touches and such, and had a couple of Locke’s I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-but-that-usually-works kind of starts, but not like this. This is a two-year job they’re talking about, and that takes more thinking.

There’s also so much sadness and quiet in this bit, what with missing the other Bastards (I’ve slept very little and almost cried when they mentioned Bug) and Locke bringing up the idea of retirement.

“Viscount Anonymous Unknown of Lashain – and his neighbour, Viscount Unknown Anonymous. There are worse fates, I suppose.”

At this point I confess I didn’t finish the section for this week – stupid grammar exam on Thursday, and I feel so guilty when I’m reading something else than Longman’s Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English – so I will leave abusing the Archon for next week when I’m hopefully less busy. For now I’ll just say I hate him. And the bondsmagi are not exactly gaining any favour.

Just thinking about those dicks makes me want to strangle someone.

“Jean, now you’re disappointing me. Gates? Ships? Please. This is us we are talking about. We could smuggle a live cow past every constable in this city, at high noon. Without clothes.”

It’s so good to be back with the Gentleman Bastards. I can’t keep the grin off my face reading Locke deal with Requin and producing those packs of cards. Once again, something I would like to see on the silver screen. It would be so awesome!

Thankfully Hay’s Code is not operating anymore. That would mean no chance of filming Gentleman Bastards – or at least the films would be very boring.

I digress. Until next week!

“Go on, eat your other core; it’s got a nice juicy pear wrapped around it.”

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