I loved LLL but hated Red Seas Under Red Skies. It's rare that my husband Dorian loves a book that I don't, but that was the case this time, unfortunately. Maybe it's because I had high expectations, but it was only because I loved LLL that I kept reading at all.
First, every other chapter is set in the past, when the Gentlemen Bastards learn to act. And we already know how all that turns out. It's also the foundation for the strong romantic subplot in this book, which relies heavily on the usual romantic tropes that I dislike so much... Two people who have their heads up their asses but ultimately belong together can't stop tripping over themselves long enough to make their love last.
There are long passages where we're literally just reading a play within the book, which might be fun for thespians, but was uninteresting for me.
Additionally, between chapters there are sometimes real-world quotes or poems or song lyrics, which bumped me out of the world each time.
And finally, we spend about 10% of the book watching Locke wallow in pain, and then refusing to live. Their hatred and fear of the bondsmagi makes sense, but when they realize Sabetha is playing for the other side, they never once wonder what they may have on her that would've compelled her to be the bondsmagi's puppet.
But apparently neither does the author, because while they're warned not to collude, there's no punishment for their continued romance.
This book lacked all the clever thievery and heist themes of LLL. What you have are thieves who aren't thieving, bondsmagi who aren't doing much magic, and the lack of any true antagonist. It just fell flat for me, even the explanation of what Locke really is. It didn't live up to the legacy of The Lies of Locke Lamora.