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.***