The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“A bright new voice in the fantasy genre” (George R. R. Martin), acclaimed author Scott Lynch continues to astound and entertain with his thrillingly inventive, wickedly funny, suspense-filled adventures featuring con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora. And The Republic of Thieves is his most captivating novel yet. 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.PRAISE FOR SCOTT LYNCHThe Republic of Thieves “Fast paced, fun, and impossible to put down . . . Locke and company remain among the most engaging protagonists in fantasy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) “The Republic of Thieves has all the colorful action, witty repartee, and devious scheming that fans of the series have come to expect.”—Wired “A fantasy world unique among its peers . . . If you’re looking for a great new fantasy series this is one you won’t want to miss. . . . In a word: AWESOME!”—SF RevuRed Seas Under Red Skies “Lynch hasn’t merely imagined a far-off world, he’s created it, put it all down on paper—the smells, the sounds, the people, the feel of the place. The novel is a virtuoso performance, and sf/fantasy fans will gobble it up.”—Booklist (starred review)“Red Seas Under Red Skies firmly proves that Scott Lynch isn’t a one-hit wonder. . . . It’ll only be a matter of time before Scott Lynch is mentioned in the same breath as George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson.”—Fantasy Book Critic “Grand, grandiose, grandiloquent . . . No critic is likely to fault Lynch in his overflowing qualities of inventiveness, audacious draftsmanship, and sympathetic characterization.”—LocusThe Lies of Locke Lamora “Right now, in the full flush of a second reading, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is probably in my top ten favorite books ever. Maybe my top five. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, you should probably read it again.”—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the WindFrom the Hardcover edition.
The Republic of Thieves is one of those books that make me second guess all the other 5 star ratings I have doled out this year. In some ways it felt very familiar (in a good way) to go back to reading a story by Lynch. Once again, I love his prose. I love the irreverent nature of the Bastards. In addition to the scheming and thievery, each book so far has shown Locke grow in his relationships with people around him.
Lies of Locke Lamora showed Locke grow from independent orphan out for his own survival, to learning to become part of (and lead) a tight knit group of thieves. He evolved and learned to think beyond himself and towards the good of his comrades as well, he learned to appreciate strengths possessed by others and that working together is mutually beneficial. He learned his actions on his own could also have severe results on his allies if he doesn’t take the time to look at the larger picture. In Red Seas under Red Skies, Locke adjusted from being part of a group to becoming part of a pair, a team of two. We saw evolutions in Locke and Jean’s relationship as well with that book.
This book focuses on Locke’s relationship with one person largely absent (but often mentioned) in previous books. Sabetha. The mysterious Sabetha who we glimpsed just briefly in Shades Hill when she was still but a child. The girl and woman who we know captured Locke’s heart so completely.
Republic of Thieves is two stories entwined, or I suppose it could be considered one story covering two time frames. We get to revisit the young Gentleman Bastards for much of this book. Calo, Galdo are once again in the story. Father Chains. For alternating chapters, we get to forget their sad fate and enjoy the flashbacks that bring them to life at a younger age, a largely pubescent. They work their charm together, each person contributing to pull off their latest scheme.
I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback story. There is no Bug, this story predates him, but there is Caldo and Galdo and the fun debauchery that comes with them. Jean, before he was as visually intimidating as he becomes in adulthood. Locke, well, Locke still seems so very much Locke. And now we see Sabetha and what kind of hold or effect she has on Locke, we see their exploration of first love.
The current day story line brings Sabetha back into the fold of Locke’s life. However, they are pitted against each other. Locke struggles with the distraction of being romantically obsessed with his opposition, trying to find a way to win her back and yet beat her at the same time. (And avoid any tricks she may have in store for him, because she is every bit as intent on winning). I enjoyed their struggles.
I enjoyed learning about Sabetha, seeing her not just as an idolized first love, but as a person, fallible, awkward at times. This story brings Sabetha from a romanticized memory of Locke’s to a real person with strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know that the current day conflict seemed quite as on scale with previous books, but I found myself not caring. I enjoyed the story, which is ultimately the purpose of a book to begin with. That said, I think readers reactions to this book will likely come down to what they think of Sabetha. This is more a story of Locke’s evolving relationship with her than it is a grand scheme that has to pull off. She’s not perfect, there are things to dislike about her, but at the end of the book, I felt like I understood her, and I really enjoyed reading the story.
To keep this spoiler free, I won’t comment much on the end of The Republic of Thieves other than there is a great setup for books to come. So now, my wait for The Thorn of Emberlain begins.
The Republic of Thieves will be released Oct. 8th by Del Rey Spectra in the US and Oct. 10th by Gollancz in the UK. Many thanks to the Del Rey Spectra and NetGalley for the ARC in return for my honest review.