The essence of 'The Republic of Thieves' could be derived from one name:
Yes, finally Sabetha Belacoros is here! And as expected, Sabetha’s and Locke’s relationship is central to the whole plot of ‘The Republic Of Thieves'.
The book is divided into two parts. The first one deals with the backstory of Locke and Sabetha - at Camorr (where they grew up) and at Espara, where the Gentleman Bastards are sent to perform on stage by Chains. The second plot starts right from where 'Red Seas Under Red Skies' left off – with Locke dying due to the poison.
To be honest, I am not a dedicated series reader. In fact, I am the worst kind of a series reader you will ever find. I generally start with a first installment and even if I like it, I don’t usually continue with the series for a long time, if ever. My theory is that that there are a lot of books still to be read, each with their own unique worlds. So, why trudge some known grounds with the same characters in similar settings if I can lose myself in yet another different and fantastic fantasy universe? But, if... if the prose is filled with witty and sarcastic characters, I am compelled to continue with a series.
That’s what Tyrion Lannister did to me with ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’. And Locke Lamora did the same with ‘Gentleman Bastards’. I don’t like characters that lack sense of humor. But that really is not a character’s fault, is it? The fault lies with the author. So why read an author’s work who doesn’t know how to develop interesting characters? This theory has driven my reading preferences right from the start and I must say, has served me well.
Locke Lamora is one of those very few characters whose dry witticism never leaves him in any situation. And that’s what makes ‘Gentlemen Bastards’ a series worth reading.
One good thing about Scott Lynch’s series is that that each installment of ‘Gentleman Bastards’ is set in a different location, so it never seems while reading that one is prodding through well-known grounds. 'The Lies of Locke Lamora' was set in Camorr and ‘Red Seas Under Red Skies’ was set at sea and in the city of Tal Verrar. In the same style, ‘The Republic of Thieves’ takes us to Espara (for the backstory) and to Karthain. Yes, Karthain. The city of the Bondsmagi! No less. Locke is offered to be cured by the Magi, but on one condition. Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen are to act as experts to help win the elections for a political faction supported by Magi. The catch is, there are two political parties in Karthain, and each is backed by a different group of Magi to win the elections. So, the other faction is sure to “appoint” their own expert against Locke and Jean in order to win the elections. You know where this is going, don’t you? If not, you’ll find out soon enough when you read the book.
‘The Republic Of Thieves’ is more serious than the previous two books, and at times, more intelligent. The prose is good, as is usually the case with Scott Lynch’s books. While not better than ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’, this book is definitely better than ‘Red Seas Under Red Skies’.
The backstory has its own benefits as well, as we are again entertained by characters like Calo, Galdo and Chains along with some new and interesting ones. It was interesting to see Locke’s transformation from an awkward kid in Camorr into a wisecrack interloper in Karthain.
But as I said earlier, the central theme of the book is Locke’s and Sabetha’s relationship. Everything else takes a backseat here. So, while most of the times the romance angle is endearing and interesting, sometimes it does feel a bit drawn out, especially in the latter half of the book.
But make no mistake, it is still good. And most of the times, I liked the romance angle of the book. And this is a big surprise for me, as generally I don’t prefer to read books where romance is the central theme. And the book is also filled with Lynch’s trademark twists and turns, and ends with an intriguing cliffhanger.
So, even after three books, I am still asking the same question with anticipation which I asked myself when I completed the first book,” What will Locke do next?”
***Disclosure: I requested and received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review.***
**Review may contain some minor spoilers**
'The Accidental Time Machine' came at a right time in my life. No, I am not having any “pre” mid-life crisis (not yet, at least); it’s just that that for the past dozen or so days, I was experiencing some serious reading withdrawal. I would pick up a book thinking that finally I have found the right one, read a couple of chapters, and then with a big sigh, put it back on the shelf. I couldn’t continue even if I found a book interesting. This happened at least 10 times until I picked up 'The Accidental Time Machine'.
And let me tell you, the only thing that is “accidental” here is that that the book’s hero, Matthew, "invents" the time machine accidentally (How else?). Apart from that, nothing that he does from then on could be considered inadvertent. He knew exactly where he was going and when. The machine only travelled into the future. But the time frame increased exponentially with each use, hence providing an intriguing set-up for the novel.
One thing that annoys me whenever I read a time-travel story (no, the paradoxes don't deter me, or I shouldn't be reading this sort of book in the first place) is that that the characters generally behave rashly without contemplating whether they would survive time travelling. Just jump in and press the button! It’s surprising that none of them ever end up with their heads in the present and torso in the past or future. The author’s “science” exempts them from this very probable fate. And that bugs me. Every time.
Thankfully, here Matthew does a lot of experiments and calculations (which are very interesting to read) before concluding that he could use the machine to transport himself to the future. In his journey, he comes across a religious dystopia from where a girl named Martha accompanies him on his further journeys. They travel much farther into the future to a utopia maintained by an AI. Understandably, the AI is bored of the utopia (utopias are always boring) and wants to accompany them on their future exploits, but not without its own ulterior motives.
Matthew and Martha want to go back to their own respective times, but in order to do that, they have to travel to a future earth which might have made enough technological advances which might help them to travel to their original pasts (as I said earlier, his machine only travelled into the future).
I won’t tell what exactly happens and ruin it for you, but I could at least say that this book is well-written, extremely funny at times, and raises a lot of questions about humanity living in various (advanced or backward) stages of civilization.
The reviews for this book here are all over the place and the average rating is a bit lower than other well loved time-travel books, but in my opinion, that does not reflect the true difference of quality between “The Accidental Time Machine” and other more popular books like 'To Say Nothing of the Dog', 'Time and Again' and 'The Anubis Gates'. This book deserves as much appreciation as the other well-known books of the genre are getting. Even more, in some cases.