Photo Credit: @Gemkarita


Scott LYNCH! How dare you play with my emotions like this! But before we get into all that…

Today’s featured photo is by the lovely Gemma from @GemKarita whose photo is both beautiful and incorporated the rather tricky #bookandkey challenge! This weeks challenge is, if anything, even harder but I know you are up for it!

REMINDER: This post will contain spoilers for the Prologue & Book I & Book II. You have been warned!

Week 2 – Book II ‘Complication’

Favourite quote:
‘Chains used to claim that there’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated’

Characters introduced:
– Panchero & Anjais Barsavi
– The Grey King
– Cheryn & Raiza Berangais
– Sage Kindness
– The Falconer
– Don Maranzalla
– Jessaline & Janellaine d’Aubert

My thoughts:


What a place to end the section?! Lynch definitely knows how to build tension, and there are so many layers to my fear for Locke and the other Bastards, that I’m only pausing my reading long enough to write this post before I dive right back in. I definitely found the pace of this section a little slower than the first, as the deception of Don Salvara becomes slightly pointless in the face of greater danger.

I think Locke’s choice to continue with the con, speaks directly to the idea that “Other than financing further theft, the Gentleman Bastards really had no idea what they were eventually going to do with it all”. None of the Bastards have any particularly strong motivators for what they do, especially without Chains as the father figure they are seeking approval from, and that lack of purpose is what I see as underpinning all the things which are starting to go wrong for Locke. In this section we see the Bastards lose sight of their role and significance in the web of Camorr, and I think they are making the mistake of underestimating the motivations that others (like the Grey King) have, and the capacity they have for violence. This is such an unusual position to see a character in, usually in fantasy we see the master schemer or the reluctant hero swept up in circumstance. Locke has the chance to be both, if only he can get out of that barrel alive!

Before I leave you to discuss I want to highlight one of my favourite moments from this section (which was most definitely not the heartbreak I felt when we learnt of Nazca’s death so suddenly!! WHY?!), I think it really highlights Lynch’s flair for the dramatic, the humorous & for building tension. During a flashback Chains is taking a deadly serious tone with young Locke and explaining in great detail all the reasons Bondsmagi are not to be messed with, under any circumstance. Turn the page, jump forward in time, and the first phrase out of Lockes smart mouth when he meets one for the first time is ‘Nice bird, asshole’. Deliberately antagonistic, always thinking he has the upper hand, this characterization makes me laugh, and cringe, as he doesn’t seem to learn his lesson – and is throttled by the Falconer again not 30 pages later.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this section, there was so much happening, and so much to come!

Discussion questions:
(Feel free to reply to each other, and to ignore my questions if you have something else to talk about!)
1. How did this section make you feel?
2. What are you most afraid of in the coming section?
3. Do you think we have already met the Grey King? If so, who do you think he is? (Locke hinted at recognition in their first meeting, but it may have been a red herring!)
4. How do you feel about the number of female characters?

Next: Week 3 – Book III ‘Revelation’

Discussion date: 22nd February

Photo Challenge: #bookandbird because “Nice bird, asshole” was too good to resist

Remember to use the tag #BabblingBooksRA on your photos, and feel free to tag me @babblingbooks in your captions. I’ll be reviewing the tag throughout the week and choosing my favourite to be featured next week.

Tamsien - Babbling Books
Photographer, stylist, blogger, and digital influencer from Melbourne Australia. Avid reader and lover of creative journaling.


  1. Ahh, I didn’t even know there was a challenge! I had to skip the previous discussion post because I hadn’t gone through it, but here I am, having finally caught up!

    I like what you said about the Gentlemen Bastards “losing sight of their role and significance in the web of Camorr”. On initial reading when I usually let myself get swept away by the story, I don’t ask the whys too much, not until I close the book and discuss it with people. They steal, but why? What for? What is the purpose? Save for Bug, they were kids in an adult body. And for someone that Capa Barsavi calls as prudent, I didn’t see Locke as prudent when he continued to push to finish the “mission”, when you can see he was already being pulled thin by so many schemes.

    I read ahead because I found Book II quicker in its pacing than the last one, and you really can’t stop with a cliffhanger like that! It’s hard for me to answer most of the discussion questions without spoiling other people, so I’ll just leave it. 😀 But yes, this part picked things up tremendously. I do much preferred reading how the characters grew up and learned their skills (there is a word for it that escapes me at the moment; someone please tell me if you know of it!); I understand we are reading about con artists here and so the meat would be about the cons they pull, but it was just a tad too lengthy that the pacing is lost and it becomes trudging than a sharp trot.

    Oh, and I find the Bondsmagi as a group a touch too powerful. You kill one and you’re practically killing yourself! Is it meant to show that the world is unfair? 😀

    1. I’m with you about the cliffhanger! I had to restrain myself so I wouldn’t accidentally write spoilers in the discussion post! I loved the training scenes too, it felt like the montage sections you get in a movie, with motivational music to show the characters are growing. One thing I would like to see more of is the emotional development of the characters, not just their prowess at theft!

      1. I liked the Chains flashbacks where they were learning not just how to steal, but work together. And I wish they showed how soon Locke managed to pay his debts for the deaths he had caused. Those little bits of emotional/psychological lessons had more weight than all the tricking.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this section and it’s rather sinister turn. Thoughts at the moment: Option 1 – I think the Don and Doña have something to do with it all. But I don’t know what. Just a hunch. Option 2 – I think it could be something to do with Locke’s past and someone he wronged.
    Option 3 – I don’t know what the f**k is going on ?? (highly likely to be option 3).

    I’m scared of more sudden deaths in the next section! It’s like Lynch says ‘oh you find this character interesting and hope they play a pivotal role? I’m gonna kill her’. Makes me think ‘who’s next?’

    No real idea who the Grey King is but some options – Locke’s father (he doesn’t know if he is dead or not), one of the boys Locke caused the death of (he didn’t really die?) or someone unconnected to Locke wanting to take power. I’m kind of just seeing where the book leads me.

    Loving the amount of female characters…but can we keep some alive please? ?

    Still loving the world building and creatures (scorpion hawk…how scary!)

    My favourite quote was the same as Tamsien’s.


    1. Oh Steph, I have read the book before and I’m with you on Option 3!! I seriously can’t remember anything except that it’s going to get very very bad before the end.

      I love your theories on the Grey King, they are all equally plausible, given Lynch’s penchant for twists and turns! I think the Dona in particular seems very sneaky, like she is a much smarter lady than Locke is giving her credit for.

  3. I definitely enjoyed this section! And that cliffhanger ending…I can’t wait to dive back into it! I’m with Steph on Option 3 though, I have no idea what’s going on!
    The world building is great and it was interesting to find out more about the different inhabitants of the world, like the Bondsmagi and their Scorpionhawks. Not sure how I feel about the Bondsmagi though. Like Gemma mentioned in her comment, they are that little bit too powerful for my liking, it doesn’t seem very balanced, and I’m hoping we’re finding out about a way to defeat them at some point.
    I still very much enjoy the chapters alternating between past and present. Both of the story lines are equally interesting and entertaining.

    I’m definitely worried about more sudden deaths, like Nazca’s. She definitely was a character I had high hopes for, and to have her die that suddenly sent me in a slight state of shock! At first I even thought that maybe it was just a part of her plan, I just couldn’t believe it…

    I have no idea who the Grey King could possibly be. Seeing as Locke mentioned he seemed to recognize him, it may be somebody from his past. Maybe someone the Gentlemen Bastards relieved of some gold in one of their schemes?

    While there is a nice amount of female characters, I would like some of them to play a bigger part, most of them are just on the sidelines. I had hoped Nazca would eventually take over from her father, but obviously that’s not going to happen now. Sabetha is still eluding us. The twins, Jessaline & Janellaine d’Aubert and the Dona have potential so we might yet get to see them in pivotal roles.

    1. Absolutely agree on the sudden death. The author built Nazca up so beautifully just to destroy her in a blink of an eye. Made me really fear that there will be more deaths to come….

      1. Completely forgot that this part was when Nazca died (sorry, read ahead!). I was shocked, but also annoyed — I was hoping I would see more of her, and we’d get some exposition on how her and Locke’s relationship as her pezon developed as they were growing up. And I really wanted to see how they would be playing Capa Barsavi in their pretend-courting act. I wanted to see how smart she was as described, but no, we don’t get any of it. 🙁

        I am honestly turning my nose up about these Mary Sue Bondsmagi.

    2. I totally forgot to mention Nazca’s death, but you’re right! I really liked her, and I was excited to see what role she was going to play. I can’t believe she died so suddenly.. No warning or anything.

  4. “Nothing is as it seems, came the voice of the Falconer. Stand resolute.”
    That is a quote I find so suitable for this book. All the cons, all the secrets and all the people that we THINK we know but obviously lots of them have hidden selfs or play different roles. I find this part of the book extremely intriguing! Which also made me think about your question about the Grey King a little more. I do believe we haven’t met him yet. And I do believe that there is so much more to this strand of the plot that we might imagine. Who the Grey King is? I seriously have no idea. A few thoughts but nothing founded on any hints in the book.

    Ah, yes, the females. I feel like some of them might be play bigger roles in the future. At this point I think we haven’t seen enough female exposure 😀

    When it comes to book III I fear that the Grey King will use Locke and his gang as his little puppets once more and I am really curious why he does that. I do hope that Barsavi will not get suspicious but considering where the plot is heading I fear there will be a major confrontation and the gang might be exposed. Really hoping I am wrong there….

    Overall I thouroughly enjoyed this part of the book. I think I was a bit faster reading as I have become accustomed to the style and the change of perspective and time doesn’t confuse me anymore. I do still think though that the author could have paced the book a bit faster. I really enjoy all the detailing but some seems a bit unnecessary.

    Now on to book III. Happy reading everyone! And happy Hump Day!

    1. I really enjoy all the detailing but some seems a bit unnecessary.

      I heartily agree. I felt the same as you; this was the quicker part, and while the first book was lovely, it just seemed to drag. I always like the foundation building, but there was too much building, I think.

      I kept thinking the Grey King could be Locke’s father! I remember how it was mentioned that his father didn’t die, just left. I also wondered, when he was so young (6ish years old?) how he had such an aptitude for stealing. It was said that he learned it as a means of survival, but the author made it sound like he was gifted. Is it because of genes?

      1. It’s so interesting to hear how differently everyone experienced the pacing of this book. Perhaps because it is a reread for me I have really been enjoying the world building, and I think I appreciate it more knowing how some elements are built on and become more significant in Red Seas Under Red Skies (book 2) but I am getting ahead of myself!!

  5. Oh man.. Sorry, everyone, I was a couple days behind this time. I found that this section was a little slower than the first one. Very detailed and just as interesting, just slower to get through.. Until that cliffhanger! It was actually kinda like a double cliffhanger, because 1) the barrel and Locke is drowning and holy crap and 2) Locke attached himself to Tesso and is getting beat up like crazy waiting for Jean.. It was a good section though! Lots of interesting things happening..

    I really just need to see how Locke gets out of this.. because of course he does! But I find myself constantly surprised by this book that I just have no idea how he’ll do it. Like Sandra said, nothing is ever as it seems.

    I know Locke said the Grey King looked familiar.. I have no idea who he could possibly be. I saw some good suggestions in some of the other posts. I initially thought perhaps someone he wronged in the past. Honestly, after everything that just happened to him, it doesn’t sound like such a bad suggestion. I’m not sure that it’s someone we met yet.. but I think he’ll be introduced somehow in past Locke’s story. But it sounds like whoever this person is would need to have acquired a ton of money somehow to employ a Bondsmage. If not even the Capa could employ a Bondsmage for that long, I really don’t know who would have access to funds like that.

    Yeah, there haven’t been that many females have there? That’s a great point.. at least the ones he does have are awesome? (Shark-fighters/Gentleman Bastard) Even though we haven’t had a lot of exposure to them:/

    Anyways, I’m off to catch up with Book III!

    Mary (@forthelove0fbooks)

    1. The lack of female characters really annoyed me when I first read it, but now I don’t mind as much (on rereading) because you are right, the ones we have met are really fascinating, complex and not at all one dimensional. Happy reading!

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