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Locke Lamora Returns
on 10 October 2013
*** 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.