The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
Book of the Month
Well, given it only took six years to produce the third novel in a planned set of seven, we might be having to settle in for a long one here. At this rate it'll be 2037 before we know what happens. I'd like the author to speed things up a little if he can. Maybe one a year?
Anyway, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen are back after their escapades in 'Red Seas under Red Skies'; Locke's been poisoned and Jean can't find anyone in Lashain able to cure him. As they are about to get beaten up for unceremoniously coercing the physician Zodesti to take a look, in steps Patience, one of the leaders of the Bondsmagi, mother to The Falconer (last seen without a tongue or hands) to cure our weaselly hero at the cost of having to participate in the quinquennial elections of Karthain, who are about to elect the nineteen representatives of the Konseil. What'll make it fun is that they are hired to represent the Deep Roots Party and get them past the winning post. Money, influence... all theirs for the asking. Winning is all that matters. Countering this is the Black Iris Party, whose Bondsmagi have hired Locke's old flame, Sabetha. Complicated, huh? Might as well toss in a carriage full of snakes whilst they're at it... oh wait....
Interwoven into this tale is the story of how Locke, Jean, Sabetha and the twins, Galdo and Calo, rose to become the Gentleman Bastards under the tutelage of Chains whilst in Camorr. This serves to fill in a great deal of Locke's life from the age of six or so; the narrative dealing with his crush on Sabetha to the troupe being sent to Lashain to join the Moncraine Company of actors.
These 'Interludes' form a separate story (and are what gives this novel its title) but are very much focused on Locke's developing fumbling relationship with Sabetha. It's all a touch disconcerting, given their ages; there's even a "coming-of-age" sexual scene featuring Jean and the older Jenora which this reviewer found unnecessary. Woven into the theme of 'young lust/love' is the venture to put on a play under the patronage of Lord Boulidazi which comes to a somewhat sticky end. This again, whilst well written, seems to serve as the author's attempt to craft a half-done Shakespearean play... we get long tracts of the play itself written in a manner that harks back to the sixteenth century. Skilfully done; but I feel I am applauding the author for something that's forced into the wider narrative of Locke Lamora; that the play is not in there because it adds much to the plot. 'Self-indulgent' would be an erroneous and harsh label for it. Mr Lynch is clearly erudite but it doesn't quite 'fit' the story as a whole.
We oscillate between the coarse language and teenage irresponsibility of the Gentlemen Bastards in the Interludes and harshly brutal vernacular with 'present-day' political savviness. The latter is full of High Seas shenanigans, puerile tricks played between Sabetha and Locke to win the elections, and the insidious presence of the Bondsmagi... all of which leads to a denouement that's tidily expected in the elections and startling in the epilogue. I was reading the last few chapters with a sense of "maybe I won't rush to pick up the next one' until Lynch delivers a cliff-hanger that's worth the price of the novel. I now want to know what'll happen in 'The Thorn of Emberlain' - I just don't want to wait another six years.
The only minor irritation with the Kindle version is the constant misspelling of 'storey', 'vigourous', 'invigourating', and, somewhat amusingly, the author in his note at the end refers to the series as the 'Gentleman Bastard'. I am assuming it's a case of publisher-to-Kindle failures, not actual spelling errors in the paper versions.
The novel can be summed up by one of the characters...
"'Words are dead until you give them a context,' said Moncraine. 'Until you put a character behind them, and give him a reason to speak them in a certain fashion.'"
Very true, Mr Lynch. Let's see what reasons you give us to read the next installment.
The long awaited sequel is possibly one of the most daunting prospects to write. Given the extenuating circumstances surrounding the creation and publication of ‘The Republic of Thieves’, it is a wonder Scott Lynch managed to function creatively at all, let alone create a book that so excellently continues his brilliant ‘The Gentlemen Bastards’ sequence.
The Republic of Thieves doesn’t take you along the same climactic journey of highs and lows that a Brandon Sanderson book might, a fact for which I am immensely grateful. Rather, instead of relying upon the constant rise and fall of expectation and tension, Lynch holds the reader’s attention just as surely with the consistent intensity of character-driven story, intermixed with the political necessity of rigging the Karthain five-year election.
But interspersed throughout the captivating story of how to rig a national election is the formative experiences of one of the most longed-for storylines; Locke and Sabetha.
Ever since the first book in Lynch’s series, ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’, we’ve been tantalised with the romantic history of Locke’s one true love, and now we finally get to see some of that time laid out. It’s exactly as you would expect from Lynch – realistic, tantalising, with payoff only where it belongs, and not just because we want it. In both the present and the past, the tension between Locke and Sabetha is palpable, and absolutely captivating. Jean isn’t left by the wayside, but rather is integral to understanding the dynamic that exists, and the new dynamic that is forming.
The revelations that intersperse this book, the hints at larger plots and dangers beyond what a ‘simple’ fantasy/heist book requires are more proof – if you needed it – that Scott Lynch is working on something bigger than we had ever imagined. With a total of seven books planned for the series, it is obvious that what is to come is like nothing we could have guessed at.
I’m finding it hard to say much more about this wonderful book, as I often find to be the case with books in the middle of a series. The Republic of Thieves is everything I ever wanted it to be – a beautiful continuation of one of my favourite series, a tantalising taste of what is to come, and the perfect relief of finally meeting Sabetha. Scott Lynch has managed to push through massive pressures and personal concerns to deliver exactly what he promised.
Joshua S Hill, 9.5/10
Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is the third book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence, one that has been highly anticipated for six long years. With the quality of the first two books and the long wait for the third, excitement and anticipation can lead to some unfairly high expectations - at least it did in my experience - and while the book may not have reached the heights I was hoping for, it is still a fantastic book that I could barely put down from start to finish.
The story picks up after the events of Red Seas Under Red Skies with Locke desperately clinging to life while Jean tears cities apart searching for anything that might help save Locke's life. Turns out there is one thing that can save Locke's life - a Bondsmagi. The Bondsmagi have a deal for Locke and Jean - take part in the political games at Karthain in exchange for Locke's life. But Bondsmagi deals are never so simple, and playing these games will pit Locke and Jean against a most worthy opponent, Sabetha.
The structure of The Republic of Thieves is the same as for the previous two books, with alternating chapters for main story progression and flashback story progression. While these two stories are separated by many years with plots that don't intertwine, there is a special duality between both stories - they are love stories. The flashbacks explore the foundations of the relationship between Locke and Sabetha, while the main story explores Locke's attempts at rekindling the long abandoned flame. It is slow, it is awkward, it is passionate, it is angry, it is heart-warming, it is upsetting, and any other number of emotions you want to throw in there. It feels real, and that works for me.
One of the things I loved about the first two books were the ambitious heists that Locke and his crew would attempt, barely scraping through with their lives and the prize. The two big games in The Republic of Thieves have some very high stakes, but they don't feel anywhere near as ambitious. I feel like if people are going to have issues with this book, it will be for this reason. The tension is definitely there, there is bucket loads of entertainment, and the Bastards really get to show off their skills throughout the whole book, but I didn't find myself as gripped by the scenes as I have been in the previous books.
One of the other things I love about this series are the larger than life characters who interact in funny ways with all manner of witty dialogue. The Republic of Thieves embraces this and makes it even better. Locke, Jean, Sabetha, Chains, Calo, Galdo, and the myriad of supporting characters - they easily fill the top spots on my imaginary list of favourite characters. It might seem like I'm biased but that is exactly what a great author can do, they enable you to make deep connections with fantastic characters so that you will follow them anywhere. And I will follow this story anywhere, for better or worse. I'm invested in these characters and I really want to see what happens next.
The Republic of Thieves is not the explosive return that many people are probably hoping for, but it is still one of the best books I have read this year. There are problems with pacing and the ambitiousness of the plotting, but for me the characterisation more than makes up for it. Welcome back, Scott Lynch. I can't wait to see what happens to these characters next.
Ryan Lawler, 9.4/10
All reviews for: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence
The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence: Book 1
They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly stre...
Red Seas Under Red Skies
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence: Book 2
Escaping from the attentions of the Bondsmagi Locke Lamora, the estwhile Thorn of Camorr and Jean Tannen have fled their home city. Taking ship they arrive in the city stat...
The Republic of Thieves
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence: Book 3
After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout ...
Have you read The Republic of Thieves?
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The Republic of Thieves reader reviews
RZA from 36th Chamber
Echo all the sentiments previously. You can take from my 9/10 rating that I agree with all the favourable comments about this book. Insofar as the very slight problems, the constant misspelling as story as 'storey' occurs in the hardback version as well, so I can only take it to mean this is a choice. If it is, it's a very jarring and annoying one. If it is a typo, I apologise. Also, Sabetha. She doesn't live up to the hype and it reduces Locke's love of her to that of a childhood crush. I was constantly wondering why he ever loved her and why he couldn't get over her. She was cruel as both child and adult. Other than that the book is absolutely first class, the plotting and dialogue being as masterful as we've come to expect from this author and I can't wait for the next one!
Robert from Romania
This.... this series, this book, barely any words can describe how unbelievable this book is. The main characters in this book are breathtakingly brilliant, everything about it screams excellence. Let me outline the important aspects of it without actually ruining it for you: It's an easy read, easy to digest. The characters are unpredictable and they aren't really a conventional bunch. The world is painted in a very lovely fashion, from the first book a Venice-like city going over seas and on land again, I loved exploring this world in my imagination. This 3rd book introduces a new main character, which is mentioned and described in the first two, she is the "romance" part of the book however her cunning and skill adds to the suspense of the story and to the intense situations that keep you biting your lip throughout this novel. I can't really describe the antagonists of this series too much, because it's more of a "US VS THEM" situation all the time and the supposed villains are not your everyday thugs or gangsters. My conclusion is, from funny to adventurous and from suspense to romance, this book has a very unique mash-up of everything that makes it stand out from a crown, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
9.4/10 from 3 reviews
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