Lynch ran his fingers through his hair and groaned, then looked up at the figure of Locke Lamora leaning casually, against the mantel.
“OK,” Lynch said. “So I’ve got to get you cured of that incurable poison I saddled you with at the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies, transport you and Jean to a brand new setting, and figure out some grand, complex con — grander and more complex than the last one — for you to run while you’re there?”
Locke swirled the wine around in the glass he held in his right hand, looking morosely into its dark depths. “Don’t forget introducing Sabetha.”
Lynch groaned again. “Right. The mysterious love of your life and equal to your own not-inconsiderable skills whom I’ve built up to such a degree she’ll never match the readers’ expectations.”
“She might surprise you. She always does me.”
“Oh, but that’s not hard.” Sabetha dropped down lightly from where she’d been clinging among the rafters. She took the goblet from Locke’s suddenly stilled hand. “But I’m afraid he’s right. Even I have to say, I am a bit disappointing.” She took a sip of the wine, its red a darker shade of her flowing hair. “Or at least, my older self is. I’m kind of fond of my younger self. In fact, I think those flashback scenes were some of my favorite parts of the story.”
“Um, well.” Locke noticed his hand was still shaped around a wine glass he was no longer holding. He raised it to pull at his collar. “Err.”
“Great. Are we going to have another scene where he stares at you all besotted, unable to speak, while you club him over the head with this strange relationship you two have?” Jean moved his heavy bulk out of the shadows near the door. “Because while I did enjoy the first few, it eventually gets a little wearisome.”
“It’s called drawing things out,” Lynch said, a bit defensively.
“Yeah, well. I’m no artist,” Jean replied. “But it seems to me you drew a mural when a simple canvas painting would have sufficed.”
“Jean’s right,” Locke murmured. “He’s not an artist.” He sighed. “But he’s also right that mine and Sabetha’s little dance gets played out a bit too much, with a bit too much repetition. In fact, the whole thing’s too long, I’d say by at least a hundred and fifty pages. It especially starts to flag after the first 350 pages or so. A good con man knows you can spin a story too long.”
“And are you a good con man, Locke?” Sabetha asked, smiling, but with a bit of bite behind the smile.
“For the love of the Crooked God,” Jean said, shaking his head.
Sabetha laughed. “Sorry Jean, force of habit.” She turned to Lynch. “I hate to say it, but even Locke here gets some things right.” Locke stood a bit taller. “It is too long. It does slow down past the middle. And did we really need quite so much of the play and the rehearsals?”
Lynch looked stricken. “You didn’t like the play?”
“No, I actually thought it was very well written, some of the best writing in the book to be honest. I mean, it felt like a real play and all. And I liked how it sort of paralleled what was going on. But a little goes a long way, you know? But beside that, the whole underlying premise felt a bit creaky. I mean, I enjoyed setting us up as rivals, but did it have to be in a competition over an election?”
Lynch shrugged. “Well I couldn’t have the stakes too high. It isn’t like you two would have done anything to endanger the other.”
Sabetha smiled that tight smile again. “You’d be surprised at what I’d be willing to do to Locke here.” She pointed behind her without turning around. “Quit smirking Locke. And control yourself; I can hear the threads in your breeches stretching from here.” She dropped her hand. “The problem Lynch is just that; you didn’t give us any danger. No peril. You’ve got to admit, it robs the book of a bit of suspense. And our tactics were too, too… “
“Juvenile?” Jean proffered.
“Childish?” Locke said. “Frat-boyish? Obvious? Unoriginal? Too quickly introduced and discarded as if they were just filler?”
“Don’t try so hard, Locke.” Sabetha interrupted. “It isn’t charming.”
“I did send the three of you into the homeland of the bondsmagi.” Lynch said. “And made them your employers. They’re scary and dangerous.”
“They’re goddamn arrogant pissholes who treat the world like their gameboard is what they are,” Locke bit off.
“See,” Lynch began, but Locke continued.
“But after the first few dozen pages they also disappear for almost the entire book, until that one witch bitch shows up at the very end to drop a hell of a twist in the whole thing, and I’m still by the way not sure at all about how I feel about that. Sure, it shows you’re playing a hell of a long game, at least I think that’s what it shows, but on the other hand, that whole bit about my…”
“Plus,” Sabetha said, “That other guy who just at the end up and…”
Jean moved further out of the shadows and Locke and Sabetha could see him fingering the blade of one of his Wicked Sisters. “No spoilers, guys. I’m with you on some of the ending issues, but no spoilers.”
“Fine. Fine.” Lynch muttered. “Sabetha was a bit disappointing after all the build-up, save for the early days when she and Locke grew up together. The story was too long and the pacing problematic, though you did like the flashbacks and back-and-forth structure. There was too much of the play, even if Sabetha thought it was well done, but not enough suspense or sense of danger. The Bondsmagi do have a few good moments and do open up things for the future. But you’ve got some concerns about their big reveal at the end and when the…” He stopped as Jean edged closer. “Um, well, you’ve got issues with the end. Anything else to say?”
The three looked at each other a moment.
“The banter’s pretty good.” Locke and Jean said simultaneously, just as Sabetha said, “I liked the bantering.” All three looked at each other again, then laughed, joined a moment later by Lynch.
“OK,” Lynch eventually said. “I’ll make sure to keep the banter next time. Ungrateful Bastards.”
“That’s ‘Gentleman Bastards’ if you please” Locke said. “Now who’s got that damn bottle of wine?
on November 30, 2013
I'm not going to bother to open this review with generic statements about how much I loved the first two books in this series (although I did), and how eagerly I anticipated the release of the third (very eagerly) because odds are if you're on this Amazon page the same can be said for you. Suffice it to say: Scott Lynch is an extremely talented writer. He's proved it more than once, first with Lies and then with Red Seas.
So what on earth happened to Republic of Thieves?
I think I first noticed something was wrong when I got about halfway in to this giant and realized, despairingly, that I still had half the book to go. And quite honestly, my own despair caught me off guard. I noticed then that I wasn't enjoying myself. Yes, it's by no means the worst thing I've read, but it's certainly not one of the best: It felt like a long, slow slog to nowhere. The more I tried to put my finger on what was bothering me, the clearer the dissimilarities became between this book and its two predecessors. After a little bit of thought for this review, I can break down what I think is the main issue that turned this read into such a drag:
Not just one but TWO lackluster plots.
It wasn't that the characters had changed- Locke and Jean are still fundamentally the same Locke and Jean from the earlier books, and there are moments where they do shine- but the plot was so 'meh' it was hard to stay entertained. In Lies and Red Seas, Lynch did a great job of plotting his books so the conflict was real. Credit to him, it was never about saving the world but rather besting pretty brutal villains with pretty interesting motives, and things often became personal, convoluted, and downright deadly. There was always the sense that the characters were in real danger, that their lives were on the line. But in the main plot of Republic, the 'high stakes' is the rigging of a public election. Don't get me wrong: it's not the subject of the plot (politics and brutality can pretty easily go hand in hand), it's the blandness of the way its handled. I never got the sense that the characters were threatened. By anything. There was no real essence of danger. No one to root against. And while the introduction of the long-awaited Sabetha could have been a nice twist, she falls flat, in a weird place between hero and villain and not in the good way. As an 'opponent' she comes across again, as lackluster- you get the feeling she's not trying her hardest- and as a 'heroine/love interest' it reads as just too forced.
The more you read, the more it becomes obvious, that she's not the villain. She's not even a real rival either. And so we're left with the bones of a plot-: no real threat, no real enemy, a boring election without high stakes (although Lynch tries to convince us otherwise without much success), and no real danger. There's no room for these characters to flex the wit and cleverness that got them out of such dire straits before. There's just...talking. And more talking. And occasionally some tries at humor which largely fall flat (the snakes in the carriage? Come on, now...)
Making matters worse is the interlude which, in typical Lynch fashion, is pieced into the book. But where the interludes in the previous books were actually character-driven exposition, this one is...something else. I guess we're supposed to take out of it how Locke and Sabetha first met and how their relationship developed, but honestly, all I learned was that Lynch should stay away from Shakespeare. Much as in the main plot, this interlude (which is all about how the Gentlemen Bastards have to stage a play) is dull, danger-less, and generally unappealing. Where's the fighting against the odds? Where's the action? If the main plot doesn't have any, the interludes have to (or vice versa) or we wind up with dullness throughout.
And that's pretty much what we get. Dullness.
There's no kinder way to say it: Republic of Thieves is bland. Does it have its moments? Yeah, there are some good bits here and there that did make me laugh and kept me interested. But these moments are few and far between and what we're left with are pages and pages and pages of pointless exposition, boring politics, and a romance subplot that spins its wheels in the ditch.
I wanted to like this one and I dutifully stuck it through until the end but there's no denying that something's missing from Republic that was so essential in Lies and Seas. This one was a long trek folks. If you're not 100% sold on it, I'd wait, and if you're starving for something to read, do yourself a favor and look into Django Wexler's "A Thousand Names" instead.
on October 8, 2013
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series. There are definitely major spoilers for the first and second book, so I recommend checking out those reviews instead ;-). So up until this point I was actually listening to this series on audio and I have to highly recommend the audiobooks because Michael Page is an amazing narrator. Since I got The Republic of Thieves through NetGalley to review, I didn't get to listen, and I'm suspicious that might have made some difference in my feelings about this one. The Republic of Thieves just didn't enchant me the way Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies did. Lynch has done a marvelous job making each of the three books unique with a fresh setting and plot. However the plot and new characters just didn't draw me in in The Republic of Thieves.
Note: I received The Republic of Thieves through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I love how much of the world we have gotten to see and continue to explore in The Republic of Thieves. Locke and Jean have a tendency of needing to leave one city quickly so we've gotten a new city in every book! In The Republic of Thieves, we get to explore two new cities through the two intermingled plot lines, one of which is Karthain, the city of bondsmagi!
There were some loose ends at the end of Lies of Locke Lamora that didn't get addressed much in Red Seas Under Red Skies, but they become quite important in The Republic of Thieves. I love it when details of previous books set up subsequent books, so clever!
I freaking love the Eldren and the picture that we are slowly getting of them. There are some VERY interesting hints that are dropped in The Republic of Thieves that I'm sooooo excited to see come to fruition :D.
The ending and epilogue surprised me by suddenly opening some interesting doors that I thought were closed. I'm excited to discuss that ending with you all when you've reached it and you will know why!
I was so excited for Sabetha to show up and awesome things to happen, but I was just not interested in the romance that is the central focus of The Republic of Thieves. I just felt no spark. It seemed like I was being told that these two were in love and all awesome, but I was not actually swoony at all.
My favorite thing about Lies of Locke Lamora was the awesome scheming that occurred. There is basically no cool scheme in The Republic of Thieves. Both of the plot lines involve small schemes, but there just wasn't an awe-inspiringly complex ultimate scheme.
I'm bored of my world's politics and I don't really care about a fantasy world's elections. Seriously, the main plot is about campaigning for an election! *yawn*
Sabetha really didn't seem like a well-developed character to me. She was supposed to be all mysterious and we got occasional peeks into some of her deeper motivations, but she pulls off the mysterious and tough girl act way too well, to the point that that seems to be all she is.
My other favorite thing about this series was that in a fantasy world, our characters were very smart, but rather ordinary thieves. They didn't have the most powerful magic skillz to save the world like all main characters seem to have. The Republic of Thieves smashes this and I won't tell you how, but it was too much to hope that there wouldn't be a hero complex in this series apparently.
The Republic of Thieves ended up feeling very "meh" for me. The things I loved about the first book disappeared and were replaced with plot lines and characters that I really wasn't interested in. It feels very much like a set-up book. I was getting worried about whether I would continue the series until the end, and now I'm quite sure that I will continue the series, but that's all that Republic of Thieves did for me. I also missed the humor that seems required for the Gentleman Bastards series. I had no moments of actual laughter like previous books elicited. In the end, I think some people will very much like The Republic of Thieves if they're more interested in the plot lines used, but it is definitely a different type of book than the previous ones. I'm hoping that the series recovers some of its humor and scheming in The Thorn of Emberlain!
I was excited to hear that Scott Lynch's latest installment in the Gentlemen Bastards series was finally out. I enjoyed The Lies of Locke Lamora, though I didn't love Red Seas Over Red Skies. The Republic of Thieves got off to a promising start, with all the quick wit and fantastic one-liners that really set the series apart from a lot of fantasy novels.
But it often felt like Lynch put a lot more effort into crafting a carefully worded insult or analogy than into creating the world his characters inhabit, or the characters themselves. I got tired of all the clever banter and just wanted a plot that interested me. And honestly, there was SO MUCH DRAMA between Locke and his lady love Sabetha that I spent half the book rolling my eyes. The two of them were so annoying and I don't think they had a lot of chemistry so rather than being excited to FINALLY meet Sabetha, I just dreaded any scene of the two of them together - every scene would inevitably end with Sabetha taking offense and Locke groveling for her forgiveness. Ugh. No thank you.
on October 8, 2013
The Republic of Thieves is the long-awaited third book in Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards sequence. I read the first two books back in 2008 and, like many people, have been anxiously awaiting the third installment. Having loved the first two books, The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, I wondered if Lynch could recapture the magic he delivered previously. Well, he did and then some.
The Republic of Thieves picks up very shortly after the previous book ends, with Locke Lamora in mortal danger, a complication of their previous adventure. He and his partner, Jean Tannen, are hiding out, trying to figure out what they are going to do. They are soon contacted and enlisted to help run one side of the Five Year Game, the election in the city of Karthain, home of the Bondsmagi (who happen to hate Locke and Jean). Their opponent in the election: Sabetha, a former Gentleman Bastard and Locke's deepest love; it has also been five years since Locke has seen her. What follows is a twisting romp through the election process, as the three friends reconnect as rivals.
In addition to the main tale, Lynch (like in the other books) interweaves information about Locke's youth, this time focusing on his relationship with Sabetha. It is fascinating and captivating watching more of Locke's history unfold. As he and the other Gentlemen Bastards embark on a summer as an acting troupe, they are forced to use their con-artist skills in an entirely different way than in the main story.
Because Lynch's stories rely so much on twists, surprises, and subverted expectations, I won't reveal any more plot points, but suffice to say that Lynch once again is in top form.
As good as he is at telling a story, Lynch is even better with his characters. Locke and Jean are two of my favorite characters. Each has a distinctive voice, which Lynch conveys perfectly. The flashbacks revisit many other supporting characters, all who stand on their own as distinctive and original (even the Sanza twins). Seeing how events play out for the characters is a joy. The interaction between the crew reminds me of the friendly antagonism of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, and the rest of the Ocean's 11 crew.
This is a very tough review to write, because I don't want to spoil anything. I highly recommend this book, I would encourage all who read the previous two books. If you haven't discovered Locke Lamora and the rest of the Gentlemen Bastards, go read the first two books. They are incredibly fun, entertaining, and clever; plus, if you read The Republic of Thieves first, you'll spoil many of the earlier surprises.
Go buy and read this book. Now.
I received a review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
on November 26, 2014
This book was entirely too long. I started from the first book which had all the exciting and refreshing vigor of an author in love with their own brainchild of a plot, and you got that feel just by reading. Locke and Jean are charming rogues as are the rest of the Gentleman Bastards. Sabetha is hinted at and serves to fluster Locke whenever she's mentioned. I found this charming. Even in the second book, you get the sense of Locke and Jean dealing with the aftermath of the first book and trying to make a way for themselves in other parts of the land. The pirating bit was loads of fun.
But this last installment was dreadfully dull. Trying to slosh through the flashbacks of Locke and Sabetha's strange and abusive relationship was painful at best, but I trudged on so I wouldn't miss any important parts that may have come up later on. Lynch attempts to emulate Shakespeare with a contrived and super boring play as some sort of plot device or allegory to Sabetha and Locke's relationship. Over the course of two books, Sabetha has been built up to be this criminal mastermind equal to Locke in her genius and the only one capable of beating him at his own game for the simple fact that she has red hair and he likes her. It's a very juvenile and childish trope that most video games and comics use to try and create a unique female character by giving her red hair and green eyes.
And it becomes wearisome after the first few flashbacks when you realize their relationship is literally going no where and the chemistry between them is pretty much nonexistent. There's also some inconsistencies in the story. In the first book, when we are introduced to Locke, there is no mention of Sabetha when she was in the Shades Hill gang, but in this book, suddenly there she is, and had apparently been there the entire time Locke was pulling his outlandish schemes during his formative years. I guess it's not too good to wait six or seven years to release a book in a series if you forget what you've written previously.
I got more chemistry between Jean and his dead girlfriend, Locke and the pirate captain, than I did with Sabetha and Locke. Their entire connection seems contrived and forced and Sabetha herself is a flat and two-dimensional character who fails to live up to expectations that have been set in the previous installments. The element of danger and suspense is also absent from this book as it seems there's no risk of Locke and Jean being killed during their exploits. The Bondsmagi, who have been purported to be the Big Bad for the last two books, and are built up to be the scariest MFers in the Seven Marrows, are completely absent for most of the book until the end where Lynch drops a convenient plot twist, one which makes zero sense in relation to the entire series, but explains why Locke is who he is. This sets up a lot of possibilities for a plot featuring more of the Bondsmagi in the future but it just seems like there was too much trying to be both Tolkien and George R.R. Martin in terms of introducing multiple characters, lore, plotlines, and plot twists.
I'm hoping the next installment of the series will prove a lot less dull and return us back to the fun-loving action Jean and Locke are capable of giving us.
on February 1, 2016
The weakest of the Gentleman Bastards novels Two different stories are being told, neither compelling or interesting.
Story One is a narrative about an Election. Riveting if you are a political wonk perhaps but hardly the compelling thievery and adventure the previous novels contained.
Story Two is about putting on a play. A boring boring narrative about putting on a play. Fully 1/3 of the book is descriptions of the actors on the stage and it just drags along.
Worth reading to find out where Locke and Jean are setup for their next adventure but I found myself skipping pages and pages of the boring parts.
on October 18, 2013
Anyone who has read the first 2 books and says that this is not as good needs their head examining, in my oh so humble opinion: It is perfect. You cannot always expect breakneck action especially in a third book, when there are at least 4 more to follow:This series is as much about character building and the human soul, as it is about action. Locke and Jean nearly died at the end of book 2, so they needed a little respite in Book 3 to be sure-still, it was no bed of roses for them, it never is!
I am not going to give any spoilers, suffice to say that this masterpiece delves further into Locke's origins, with some astonishing revelations...which may or may not be entirely credible.....
on June 2, 2015
Disappointing after the other 2 books in the Gentleman Bastards - which is to say it's still good, but not as good. I think there is a level of intensity of emotion and angst and history between Locke & Sabetha that is never fully realized despite the explanations. How it ends up reading, she's an emotionally unstable bitch and he's forever a lovelorn puppy she's kicking. I am 100% certain this wasn't the intent. But her motives are too mysterious, it makes her actions seem capricious and cruel.
It is easier to get lost in a fantasy when the people still seem real, Locke's awkwardness around her, her flightiness, his undying loyalty - they all push me out of the story and make the characters seem thinner.
on October 8, 2013
The Republic of Thieves was well-worth the wait, especially in expanding on the formation of the Gentleman Bastards and the relationship between Sabetha and Locke. I tore through this book (I had read it as a galley, and preordered the book anyway), probably finishing it in two days. I'm sure there's nit-picking to be done, but for me, this was exactly the book I was hoping for: a continuation of Locke and Jean's story from one of the best new fantasy writers today.