Review: The Republic of Thieves

Title: The Republic of Thieves

Author: Scott Lynch

Series: The Gentleman Bastard (#3)

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Brutal, Thieving Fantasy

Pages: 598

Rating: 7.5/10

“I don’t expect life to make sense,” he said after a few moments, “but it could certainly be pleasant if it would stop kicking us in the balls.”

Summary: Locke and Jean are in Karthain, working for the Bondsmagi. Their task is to win the election for the party they have been assigned to. This is the Five Year Game. It’s different from their normal work, for sure, but the Bondsmagi have another trick up their sleeves. Their rival, fighting to win for the other side, is none other than Locke’s one true love – Sabetha.

Review: Firstly, this one has a map! Yay!

The Republic of Thieves is really split into two stories, two strands of narrative. The first strand is the Five Year Game, set in the present. The second strand is mainly the summer when the Gentleman Bastards were in training as players in Espara, and the summer where Locke is determined to win Sabetha’s heart. (Though it goes back further than that, and shows us the full story of Locke and Sabetha’s past, from Shade’s Hill to the end of their time in Espara).

This works well, in some ways. It’s nice to have the backstory about their summer as players at last, as it’s been mentioned in previous books, and it’s also nice to see Locke’s backstory with Sabetha. I enjoyed seeing Locke in Shade’s Hill, as all previous knowledge we had of that time was second hand and not through Locke’s eyes at all. I enjoyed seeing the slow growth of Locke’s affections towards Sabetha, from the moment he first lays eyes on her, to meeting her again at Father Chains’s, and beyond.

To be honest, unlike the first two books, this was more about the characters than the plot. It felt like it was building up to something, and it kind of did, but I think this one was setting the scene for how the rest of the series will play out. It felt like a prologue to something much bigger, in a sense.

I did appreciate the character building, though, and it has certainly piqued my interest and anticipation for the next book.

Sabetha has been an elusive character throughout the first two books. We didn’t even get to see her in reminiscences of the past. She was always mentioned in passing. This has built a certain mystique and anticipation around her character, and therefore she had a lot to live up to.

Does she live up to this anticipation?

Yes and no. She’s certainly a clever character, and certainly gives Locke and Jean a run for their money. But I didn’t exactly like her. She has insecurities, sure, and reasons for it, but she gives Locke the brush off so many times, and he just kind of follows her around like a lovesick puppy. I just wanted to shake Locke (both young and older versions) and tell him that she’s not good for him. I don’t think it’s a healthy relationship at all.

Were we meant to like her? I’m not sure. I think I understood why she is the way she is, but I really disliked how she played with Locke’s feelings.

Locke is the hero of these stories. We’re close to him. We root for him. Seeing someone shoot him down again and again does not really endear them to us.

I’m interested to see how Sabetha and her relationship with Locke develops, though.

Once again, we see the strength of Locke and Jean’s partnership. I love both of them so much, and their rapidly turning into one of my favourite fantasy duos. Perhaps I also resent Sabetha a little bit for getting in the way of that, but then I didn’t resent when Jean got a love interest in the last book.

I love Jean so much. Locke is very lucky to have him.

One minor niggling thing – every time Scott Lynch was supposed to write ‘stories’, he wrote ‘storeys’ instead. Once I could forgive as a typo, but this happened repeatedly. And no, I don’t mean building storeys. I mean tales, stories. Not sure how an editor missed it, to be honest.

The ending, though. Oh my god. What? What?! WHAT?!?!?

I need the next book now. ;_;