Book Review: The Republic of Thieves

Thursday 12 March 2015 by

The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch, Book, Fantasy, GollanczThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Published by Gollancz

Locke and Jean barely escaped with their lives from what should have been the greatest heist of their career, in the port city of Tal Verrar. Now they head north, looking for sanctuary and an alchemist who can cure the poison that is slowly killing Locke. They find neither, but with their luck, money and hope exhausted, they receive an offer from a power that has never had their best interests at heart: The Bondsmagi of Karthain.

In exchange for the chance that Locke might be saved, the Bondsmagi expect the two Gentlemen Bastards to rig an election in their home city of Karthain. They will be opposed. The other side has already hired the services of Sabetha Belacoros, the one person in the world who might match Locke’s criminal skill, the one person in the world who absolutely rules his heart.

Now it will be con artist against con artist in an election that couldn’t be more crooked, all for the benefit of the mysterious Bondsmagi, who have plans within plans and secrets they’re not telling…

~*~

I’ve been a fan of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence from the moment I picked up The Lies of Locke Lamora, and with the third book in the series The Republic of Thieves, I return with great glee to the world of Locke and friends.

None of the books have ever ended too well for Locke – he has a lovely habit of nearly dying, and Republic starts in much the same way. But soon enough, Jean and Locke are embroiled in another scheme. This time, with the Bondsmagi, and they are up against an old ally (and Locke’s former flame).

The book switches between two stories – that of the election and Locke and Jean’s current predicament, and a previous heist when the Gentlemen Bastards were younger. If you’re familiar with the series, then you will know what to expect. And this just builds on brilliance. Locke and Jean are fantastic anti-heroes, and when you finally meet Sabetha, she is all you hoped for and more. Her appearance can only ramp things up.

I can never find fault with these books – the world, the wit and the plot thrill at every turn, and Lynch’s artful rendering is pure delight. This is “high” fantasy at its best, with Locke at the helm. You can’t help but fall slightly in love with him (and Jean), but I felt a familiar rush of adoration for our previous characters – Calo and Galdo in particular, who were missing from the last book (I won’t say why in case of spoilers). I couldn’t decide which I loved best – the election heist or the acting heist. Lynch has a terrible ability to throw our heroes in to disarray and have them skilfully dodge it with nothing more than mere words and the odd sword-clash. The appearance of Sabetha simply muddies the muddied waters, and makes for an interesting twist.

More so than that, I can never see the twists coming. Locke – the greatest mystery of all – is revealed and concealed in many guises, and you are left guessing right to the very end. At 700+ pages, this is a big book, but you read your way breathlessly through it, and it feels like a loss of a friend when you finish.

If you have never read any of the series, I urge you to start at the beginning, but for a third book, this is the pinnacle of a fantastic series, and thrilled me to my core.

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