The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.
Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.
Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.”
Yay, Scott Lynch has given us the next Gentleman Bastards book! I’ve been waiting years for this story to show up. And admittedly, the one thing that worried me was whether or not this book would live up to my memories of the first two, given how much time has passed since their publication. I tend to forget details of books once enough time has gone by, so diving into the middle of a story with spotty recollection of previous details could have been dicey.
Thankfully, I needn’t have worried. The Republic of Thieves has just as much wit and action as its predecessors, picking up seamlessly where Red Seas Under Red Skies left off. But I must admit that this novel has a very different feel than the others—Locke and Jean are on their own, with their allies from Camorr murdered during their disastrous conflict with the Falconer. Instead of the motley crew of thieves and rogues we’re used to, most of this story focuses on Locke and Sabetha, his long-lost love.
This also contributes to the novel’s pacing being something unexpected. While this book is no less amusing than the others, its pace is definitely slower. I wouldn’t call the previous books madcap or fast-paced, but there was a certain flow to the plots. Here, with Locke and Jean focused on influencing an election, the final outcome isn’t something that they have a lot of control over. Whether they win or lose is somewhat of a crapshoot, unlike the plots that dealt with grand heists reminiscent of Oceans Eleven. The end of the tale hinges less on the final outcome and more on how everyone gets there.
Also affecting the pacing is the series of flashbacks that show the course of Locke and Sabetha’s courtship when they worked together under Father Chains. While I didn’t mind the flashbacks, they didn’t fit comfortably within the framework of the novel’s present-day tale. It felt like they should have meshed together and formed a whole greater than just the two storylines by themselves, but they didn’t quite achieve that.
For me, though, these quibbles are small. I truly enjoy Lynch’s writing. He portrays Locke as almost a trickster god, sly and cunning and full of almost supernatural knowledge of how to apply those traits. The things that he and Sabetha do to each other in their quest to sway the election in their patrons’ favor are complex and humorous by turns. And there are hints of Locke’s possible backstory that should whet your appetite to learn more. The author has certainly not lost his touch during the time it took to get this book off the ground.
The Republic of Thieves may not live up to the extreme hype that has surrounded its publication, but it certainly is a good book in its own right. It should be enjoyed for the humor, for the rounds of trickery and cunning action, and for a set of characters that are more real than many others in the genre today. I’m very glad I got to read this one early, because I’m not sure if I could have waited much longer to get reacquainted with Locke Lamora.
Also by this author: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series: The Gentleman Bastards
Publisher: Del Rey
Page Count: 672
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Read an excerpt