on 3 February 2014
While the first two books were full of intrigue, plots, lies, twists and surprises, this book feels sort of one dimensional in comparison. The plotting and scheming take second place to a character background saga which does not fit with the other two books. I should have realised it was going like this when fully 30% of this novel deals with how Locke gets out of the certain death he faced at the the end of the second book. The remaining two thirds is split between his present 'adventure' and a historical background about his early life. This does not leave any time for the complex scheming and surprises found in the first two novels and so it turns out to be just a quite well written story which seems to be a link to the next book.
Overall, I was expecting more. I am now wondering whether to read the 4th book when it comes out - I will probably wait to see the review comments
*** This review contains potential spoilers if you haven't read books one and two in this series ***
The Republic of Thieves is essentially two books for the price of one.
The first follows on directly from the events of Red Seas Under Red Skies. Locke and Jean are on the run, attempting to avoid the fallout from their last scheme that went slightly awry. Becoming powerbrokers in the political arena seems a sensible idea, at least at first. The arrival of an old friend however adds an unexpected wrinkle to their latest "fool proof" plot.
The second narrative strand goes back in time and follows the teenage Gentleman Bastards as they take to the stage. Their ever-enigmatic mentor, Father Chains, demands they leave Camorr for the summer and assist an old acquaintance with his troupe of slightly deranged actors.
For a while now Mr. Lynch has lead us a delightfully merry dance. The character of Sabetha Belacoros has been mentioned in passing multiple times, but has never really been fully explored. Sabetha has been the lingering shadow that has hung over Locke's past. She's the one that got away, as it were. Finally meeting her has been a long time coming, and her introduction is handled wonderfully.
I've been trying to think of the best way to adequately describe the connection that exists between Sabetha and Locke. The closest thing I can equate it to is the relationship that Sherlock Holmes has with Irene Adler. The verbal sparring, where they continually try to outdo one another is a joy. Locke has more than met his match and I reckon, much as he would try and deny it, in his heart he knows it. To use a more modern analogy, if I was to try and describe what was going on with them both on Facebook, the status of their relationship would be "it's complicated". Their interactions fill in many of those lovely little deliberate blanks that appear in previous novels. Knowing Sabetha helps the reader to better understand both Locke and also Jean.
There have also been fleeting glimpses of the Bondsmagi in the past but their murky motives have never really been revealed. In this book we finally get to learn some of the inner workings of this most secret society. Turns out that magical practitioners are a tricky bunch, who'd a thunk it?, and the Gentleman Bastards feature heavily in their plans. Poor old Locke and Jean, they can't catch a break.
It appears that those carrot-dangling days of teasing us aren't over quite yet. It's true that some of secrets we've longed to discover finally see something close to daylight, sort of but there are still many more mysteries that are not yet resolved. Locke's mysterious origins and his ultimate fate are danced around but it appears that Lynch ain't done messing with our heads.
In The Republic of Thieves, it feels like Locke, Jean and company have finally come of age. We get to see them as awkward teens and then as the more confident adult versions of themselves. Lynch's writing excels when it comes to character evolution. It's so fluid and natural you're never going to question it.
I'll happily come clean and admit overt fanboyishness when it comes to this particular series. I've been waiting for this novel and now that it's here it doesn't disappoint. The Gentlemen Bastards have finally returned and I couldn't be happier.
I'll finish with a personal plea if I may - Mr. Lynch, ignore any of the haters out there. Like most readers, I'm a patient soul. You take as long as you need for your next book. All us true fans will be here waiting, because we know it's gonna be worth it.
on 24 November 2013
Suffers from the same problem as Red Seas... in that it does not hold a candle to the original book. The revelation of Locke 's past and the return of an old enemy during the epilogue seem shoe-horned in as an excuse to extend the series. Each book loses more of what made the first so awesome. The flashback is more interesting than the actual continuation of the present day plotline, but there were whole chapters dedicated to the characters performing a play. This is a book that seems to go nowhere but is still recommended for the interaction between Locke, Jean and Sabetha.
on 6 November 2013
Having reread the first two books in preparation for the third adventure of Locke and his best friend Jean Tannen, I was left feeling a bit disappointed by this latest tale.
In the first two books Locke is portrayed as a loveable scamp, But in this book I found him to be a bit of a wet blanket. he only really came to life in the scenes with his long lost love Sabetha. Here. the dialogue was crisp and witty, sometimes laugh out loud. But through the rest of the book I wanted to shake him out of his self indulgent introspection. His best friend had just lost the love of his life, and I know that Locke was suffering the effect of the poison given him in book two, but really he offered no support to poor Jean.
I think that what I am trying to say, is that until this book I genuinely liked Locke, but now I don't. And it is difficult to get enthusiastic about a book when the reader finds the main character unsympathetic and unlikeable.
The large indigestible chunks of 'faux' Shakespearian style play were also boring to read and in my opinion added nothing to the book.
I wasn't to keen on the switching back and forth from the present to the past either. Though it did make the story a little more interesting. because the plot of this book which dealt with rigging an election was a bit thin.
I will read the next book but I'm not waiting with such eager anticipation as I was for this book.
on 26 October 2013
I really enjoyed the book - very much in keeping with the quality of the previous 2 with the added bonus that the author has had more experience and his writing style has smoothed out.
My only problem is that the kindle version had a problem where the word "stories" was replaced with "storeys" throughout the entire book. Very jarring and I suspect that it'll be my lingering memory rather that the story itself!
on 14 October 2013
Scott Lynch is one of my favorite writers and while the first novel will always remain the best, simply because it was the first I read, I'd have to have Lynch's gift to express in words how much I enjoyed returning to Locke Lamora's world. The wait has been a long one but I do not resent it. I have no doubt the book is better for it. Something this much fun takes time.
As someone who suffers from an autistic condition I have an uncontrollable tic when reading something that fully engrosses me (a spasm/wave of my right hand). The more I enjoy the book the more uncontrollable the tic. The only reason I was unable to complete this book in a day was that I was unable to hold my iPad for large portions of the day due to that tic (and fear of the damage to the device in question).
Buy all the Gentlemen Bastard books If you have not already. You will not regret it.
on 20 July 2016
There are few authors who can make me laugh out loud, but the banter between characters in TROT did exactly that many times during my read.
I enjoy fantasy novels providing it isn't just fairies and dragons - I need full-bodied characters and interesting events to go with the strange world.
Scott Lynch has created just such a series. The Gentlemen B*st*rds are two thieves who excel in the art of the con. The series follows their adventures in a world that blends senses of the victorian, cyber-punk, magic and drunken swearing. The name of the series tells you this will be a bawdy ride, and so it continues in this third instalment.
Neither of the sequels has quite captured the elan of Book1, and perhaps the troubles Scott Lynch has undergone are part of the reason for this. However, in their own right the sequels are still a great read. I don't have a lot of time but I still managed to read each book in less than a week, eager to get back to it as soon as the days work was done and reading until forced to accept I needed sleep!
Not many books do that for me, but TROT, indeed all 3 books, are such a perfect blend of wit, action, narrative pace and character development. I couldn't wait to see how the latest escapade worked out, and all the while these are only scenes within a much larger story spanning the series. Yet for all the fervour and action we also come to know a great deal about our three main protagonists, much about the supporting cast, and come to meet many players beautifully described despite their short stay in the narrative.
All this and I haven't mentioned the diverse and detailed lands that Lynch has made for his characters to inhabit. Several 'continents' each with its own flavour, a mysterious city full of Magi, towers of wealth and gutters of poverty - all brought to life so well that you can almost smell the streets and feel you know the houses.
If you haven't realised yet, I love these books, and if you have any interest in fantasy, or a pulse, I think you will too.
on 15 September 2015
I absolutely adore the first two books. I can say without a doubt The Lies of Locke Lamora is the best book I've ever read, and Red Seas Under Red Skies is a very close second. It's been a long while since I've read the first two as I've been busy and haven't had the time to read the third, but even still, all it takes is the quote from all three books 'a glass poured to air for an absent friend', to get me sobbing. It is the first two books which have caused me to become so sensitive. The plot's, mixed in with the depth of characters and the beautiful description of the locations, the first two are quite literally perfect in my opinion. However, the third book is a failure, and the only reason it has 3 stars rather than the one is my love for the series. The series is good. This book is part of the series and is essential (at least I presume it is) to read if you want to continue reading it without getting lost.
First off, the characters.
Sabetha, the mysterious woman from the first two books, the captivating woman who is the love of Locke's life. Turns out to be nothing but a petulant bitch with as much grip on her emotions as a spoiled six year old.
Locke was completely destroyed in this book, and I think the blame lies on the introduction of Sabetha. Rather than being a book about a witty, quick thinking man trying to rig an election with an unlimited amount of money at his disposal, it turns into more or less a romance novel with locke being the soft mushy lovestruck male chasing after the girl with 'all the worries and troubles in the world.'
Jean, well, he didn't disappoint as much as the rest. He was his usual self just he didn't have a lot to do since most of the book seemed to revolve around Locke and Sabetha's love. At the start of the book (the only good part, along with the end) his personality shone, him trying to deal with the consequences of the second book alone, the bond between him and Locke being put on show.
However the other characters were pretty good, but not as good as the previous books. The behaviors and personalities of the bondsmagi were presented very well.
Like the previous books, this volume contained flashbacks to the gentlemen bastards past which was pretty much pointless other than to show you the previous relationship between Locke and Sabetha, that is, the relationship which has ruined the series and turned my favorite fantasy-focused series into a cringe-worthy romance-focused novel. However, the very little fantasy focused elements were okay (besides the fact the book which at first seemed to promise an all out conmon vs conwoman war was reduced into quite literally idiotic pranks such as throwing snakes into chimney). The bondsmagi were explored more in depth which I presume are going to take a major role later in the series, the cantons of the Kingdom of the Seven Marrows and their tensions were explored a fraction deeper, and lots of interesting questions did arise about Locke Lamora and his past. However, the setting was disappointing compared to the last two books. The last two books I had a great idea and could vividly imagine the beauty of the two cities. However, perhaps not due to a lack of description but a lack of imagination, I couldn't envision the same about Karthain. In this case I just had a general idea of what the place was like.
on 17 December 2013
*I will endeavour to keep any spoilers to a minimum*
I have enjoyed the preceding two Locke Lamora stories immensely. Lynch has created some fantastic characters in an engaging backdrop, and had them romp through two really clever and inventive plots. Great dialogue, plenty of action, and storylines that keep moving quickly and are never predictable.
Lynch has had a lengthy time out due to personal issues between Red Seas and this, his latest, so you can imagine that I have been counting off the days until I read it. Sad to say, I have walked away from this particular outing feeling let down.
Put simply, in comparison to the preceding books, this one is decidedly weak. The story is split into two halves, one about the younger Gentlemen Bastards helping a friend of Father Chains by performing a play and saving the drama company in doing so, the other is working to rig an election on the part of the Bondsmagi of Karthain.
The whole book serves to introduce Locke's paramour Tebetha to the series, after many references in the preceding tales.
Unfortunately both halves of the tale are mostly weak, albeit that there are flashes of the inspired writing that characterised the first two books.
The story of the young Gentlemen Bastards organising a troupe of fading players to restore their fortunes is the weakest part. Locke and Tebetha fumble around one another, with Locke stripped of all of his usual guile and cunning simply by being in her presence. Worst is the play itself though - great swathes of the verse of it are included in the book, and it comes across as pretty naff wannabe Shakespeare. This, coupled with all the fluff about rehearsals, techniques, publicising the play, espousing the overall plot of the play etc add very little to the actual story that you are reading. I suspect that Lynch is a fan of amateur dramatics and has tried to pull this into his story - it really does not fit.
This is the stronger plot thread, but again it lacks the pithy style of the first two books. The Bondsmagi are converted from terrifyingly omnipotent and implacable adversaries into a fragmented committee. The premise of the two halves of the surviving Gentlemen Bastards playing opposite sides of the electorate, trying to out-scam one another in order to have their respective side win the eventual election, had a lot of promise. Unfortunately only a few minor tricks and scams take place before the slowly rekindling romance once again takes centre stage. The election story feels like it is hurriedly wrapped up, almost an afterthought.
All in all, this was a disappointing read. Hopefully it will be a blip on Lynch's career, for as I have said the first two novels are mesmerisingly good, but this one falls a long way short of where he has set the bar.
Oh Sabetha, you're so beautiful! (Retch)
Oh Sabetha, you're so brilliant! (Retch more)
Oh Sabetha, you're the most perfect creature in all the world! (Projectile vomit everywhere!!)
So many new fantasy authors these days seem to have a lot of trouble with the sequels to their novels. Patrick Rothfuss’ second instalment in the King Killer Chronicles was very much sub standard, Peter V Brett’s sequels in the Demon War Cycle border on unreadable and now it seems that Scott Lynch is joining the gang with this abysmal outing for the Gentlemen bastards.
The second book in this series was a big let down from the Lies of Locke Lamora and I was hoping that this one might pick up the baton a get running again. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be so much an author struggling with the difficult second novel as it was a prime example of a one hit wonder.
A character that really caught my attention in the first book is the very same character that has destroyed this third book. Sabetha has literally just been a name until this book and what always amazed me was that Scott Lynch could so brilliantly craft a character by just her impact on other people’s lives without ever once going into detail about things that she had done or giving her any other mentions at all other than her name. The down side of this was that it put a lot of pressure on Scott Lynch to create a character that really stood out in this book when finally we meet her and boy did he drop that ball.
As with so many love interests that toy with a protagonist's hearts just a few times too often, Sabetha becomes the stereotypical selfish, self righteous, self important, jealous, and stuck up character that you can’t help but hate. In an effort of basically making a character that is an equal to Locke, Scott Lynch has just recreated Locke but with breasts, a monumental ego and a huge amount of self delusion.
Her primary role seems to be to constantly emasculate and show up Locke, put him in his place and turn him into a obsessed stalker who I just don’t like to read about. It's completely out of character and unbelievable for Locke to behave as he does especially because in the 23 years (yes 23 years!!) that he has been in "love" with and scorned by Sabatha, he keeps coming back for more and falling for it every time.
To top it all of Sabetha constantly makes an issue of gender roles which surely just an annoying stereotype of women which is getting really old. The constant referral to men only ever thinking with their penises (when she is literally the only character to ever bring up the topic of sex) and the delusion that she only lost out to Locke in the affection of the rest of the group because she was a woman is just tiring.
So as you might have guessed I don't like Sabetha and sadly this book is so centralised around her that it should have been called 'The Folly of Locke Lamora: The return of Sabatha!'. If you don't like her then you will hate this book.
But finally putting that aside I would also like to give a brief mention to all the other plots that were dropped into the background of this farce of a romance. The play (for which this novel got its title) was just filler and only served to provide a setting to tell Sabetha and Locke's back story. The Bondsmagi election is also just filler and only served to provide a setting to tell the current Sabetha and Locke story.
Overall this is a terrible third novel and just another step further away from the brilliant Lies of Locke Lamora.