First of all, I loved it. This is not to say that it was flawless, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable yarn that I am thrilled I saved for my vacation book. To me, having a great book while on vacation really adds to the vacation experience and this one was stellar. I, of course, love the characters – Locke and Jean are a fantastic duo, clearly characterized, wonderfully flawed and limited, witty, clever, and fun. This novel solidified their relationship and established them as some of my favorite fantasy characters today. The story was also really good, but there were a few points about it that irked me a little, and I mean only a little.
First, I felt there was way too much time setting up the Sinspire heist when that didn’t actually develop into the plot at all. It was almost like he was writing that as the plot, then thought, “Hey, wait. This is just Oceans Eleven set in a fantasy world,” and completely changed tacks. The pirate story it developed into was a ripping good story, but the jolt between it and the Sinspire plotline was a bit rough. Also, the end had a little bit of a deus ex machina feel to it with the sudden introduction of the Priori Council character who managed to smooth all the rough edges of the story’s conclusion. In hindsight, time spent at the beginning fleshing out the Priori character (see? I can’t even remember his name.) instead of doing the Sinspire stuff would have served this plot better. The Sinspire plot was a lot of fun though and probably deserved its own book, or at least better integration into the whole.
The writing continues to be among the best I’ve read in contemporary fantasy. Lynch is very lyrical and I appreciate his attention to details like alliteration and rhythm. I also like how his stories use the same characters but are stand alone stories. Obviously, for character development purposes, it helps to read them in the published order, but they’re not so connected that you could not. It makes reading them a joy. I am truly looking forward to the third installment. Speaking of, one thing that I’ve really liked about these first two books are the references to Locke’s love interest in the past, a woman named Sabetha. To Locke, it is anathema to bring her up and there are obviously some very deep feelings there. But I love how Lynch has developed this character and never once showed her to us. I am a little disappointed that the third book will include her as a principle character as I enjoyed the mystery and wish it would have lasted through a few more books.
Lynch has also mentioned, apparently, that he hopes to write more stories about the female pirate duo Ezri and Zamira and I would really enjoy that as well. They were quite the pair! For obvious reasons (Ezri’s death in Red Seas) they would have to take place in the past, but that’s fine. Her death and funeral scene, by the way, moved me to tears. Books don’t typically do that to me. I wept for her and I wept with Jean. It was wonderful writing.
February 2011 is way too far away for the next book, Republic of Thieves, for my liking.