Book Review: THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES by Scott Lynch

A couple of years ago, I needed a book to read for vacation. So I stopped down by my local indie bookstore and grabbed one of the thicker fantasy volumes on the shelf. That book – The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – almost made me forget I was sitting on a beautiful beach with blue waters stretching in front of me. Not long afterwards, I devoured Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the third volume.  I won’t lie – when the ARC of The Republic of Thieves arrived, I did a little squee and dance and then settled in for a couple of long nights on the couch.  The short of it – Republic is a fantastic novel with all the twists and turns we’ve come to expect from Lynch and a few cliffhangers that leave us wanting far, far more.

The Republic of Thieves picks up right after the end of Red Seas and is, essentially, two stories in one. In the present, Locke is dying, poisoned after pulling off what should have been a magnificent heist. He gets a reprieve though when a Bondsmagi arrives and offers to cure him. All he and Jean have to do is win an election in the magi controlled city of Karthain. The campaign is everything you’d expect – from childish pranks up to in-depth confusion, twists, and turns. But what makes a standard plot far more fun is their opposition – none other than fellow Gentleman Bastard, Sabetha.

Sabetha’s presence has been hinted at throughout Lies and Red Seas and in our third journey with the Gentleman Bastards, it’s about time we finally get to meet her.  The dynamic between her and Locke as they butt heads and their feelings for one another make the pages turn quick.

Some of the most enjoyable moments come not in the present day but in the second story, told in a series of flashbacks to Locke’s youth with the Gentleman Bastards. We are once again introduced to the whole gang – Locke and Jean, Sabetha, and the twin brothers Calo and Galdo Sanza.  It’s a fun tale, one that sheds a great deal of light on the past, and I’ll confess that seeing the Sanza brothers again was a great treat.

Also enjoyable is how Lynch is able to move us between locales in the novels and keep things fresh and interesting without resorting to cliches. We’ve heard about Karthain in the previous books and we know of the Bondsmagi so none of it’s jarring while still providing new surprises.

Some may find the back story excessive and to some extent, I agree.  There was some feet shuffling and navel gazing.  Throw in a group of teenage thieves and it gets to be a bit much at times.  On the other hand, I saw that it was serving a purpose as if we’re being setup for far greater and bigger things to come (as of now, there are seven books planned in the series).  It might be helpful to look at the series this way: Lies was a caper, Red Seas was a heist, and Republic is intrigue – both the politics of the world and between the characters themselves.

It’s also no great spoiler to say that by the final page, not everything is resolved but then again, when has it ever for Locke and Jean?  And the revelations at the end?  Well, let’s just say they made the long wait worth it.

Author: Scott Lynch

Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound

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Matt Hughes, Contributor
A freelance writer and full time Technology Lead at a private college, Matt Hughes holds a B.A. in English w/ Writing Emphasis & Africana Studies from Luther College. Matt writes a mix of Science-Fiction and Fantasy and is an alumni of Viable Paradise XIII. He is currently at work on a sci-fi thriller. He also writes a variety of non-fiction articles on technology, food and fitness, and health among other topics. When not at the keyboard, Matt spends his time running, gardening, or practicing martial arts. He lives in Northeast Iowa with his wife, a dog, and a cat. He keeps a blog.

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