Rouges – George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

I hesitate to call this a short story collection as at 21 stories across over 900 pages, the average length of these stories is over 40 pages. Rather it’s a collection of novellas, shuffled together from different worlds.

The list of contributing authors alone was enough for me to pick this up, it reads as a list of the best current sci-fi and fantasy authors. Of course it includes a new tale from Westeros, but also something from London Below, a a whole set of stories from worlds that only exist inside this book. From a world where thieves have their souls trapped in statues as a warning to others, to a mystery set in a  multiplex cinema  through a club in the roaring twenties where possibly not everyone is human.

It is impossible to pick a favourite from this set, but the contribution from George R. R. Martin was a definite disappointment. Dry, dull and only explained that there had been a whole heap of infighting and grudges in the past. So don’t get it for that story, but it was just a bit of a damp squid at the end of a generally fabulous collection.

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The Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch

Book three of the Gentleman Bastards (following The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies). This is where an author really needs to avoid the trap of books seeming repetative, especially in a series like this where the central characters have already reached adulthood and are following their natural place in the world.

Unlike the second book, this The Republic of Thieves returns to linking back and forth to the Bastards’ past, drawing out parallels and links between a child-like dilemma where they were fumbling and finding themselves, and the current life-and-death set-up. Of course the children of Shades Hill have never known safety, and the Gentleman Bastards are trained to cope with anything, so the contrast may not be as great as would be expected.

We see the return of the Bondsmagi, politics and trickery as would be expected. But life is trickier than before, and the stakes are moved ever upwards.

And there is Sabetha. Otherwise known as “Her”, because Locke has spent a lifetime unable to comprehend of being in love with anyone else. Being thrown in with your first love again is just another layer of trickery in life.

“Stand down Jean, it’s the same hard sell we use… Astonishing promises first, important disclaimers second. Just get on with it Patience.”

Red Seas Under Red Skis – Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies is the second book in the Gentleman Bastards series, after The Lies of Locke Lamora. Lynch manages to make the new book seem fresh, with new challenges to face.

The book opens with the card tricksters working their way up a prestigious gambling house, with some flashback scenes to provide the missing links and drop in some of the set-up as it becomes necessary.

But the name suggests, in this book they go to sea, via attempts to defraud the rich and powerful of course. There is piracy, power struggles, negotiation and outright murder to be coped with. But beyond that there is some character development and dealing with grief.

Lies has to be read first, but this is definitely a series where I need the next book. It was on order before I’d even sat down to write about this one.

Have you been reading a series that you’re loving?

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

Locke and his gang of Gentleman Bastards are liars. Nothing personal, its just how they make a living.

But there is of course change and conflict ahead. Locke has to work out how to navigate these new challenges and survive in a pseudo-medieval world in which lying has been essential for their entire lives.

For light fantasy there is a lack of magic or myth. Merely the world having its own mythology, but in this book at least that is all it is. Simply a pantheon of gods who stay away from the real world.

This book has been challenging me from the tbr pile for years, and now I’ve read it I’ve straight away ordered the sequel! At least waiting so long has given Lynch time to write a good part of a series.