The Republic of Thieves is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch. In the first two books Locke is constantly struggling to get ahead of his situation (although he just seems to dig himself a deeper hole). He’s still behind in this installment (and starting on death’s doorstep), and this time he’s faced with a political battle to win and a love to recover. While I thought this would be the last book in the series, I was surprised at a twist that could extend Locke’s adventures. I give this book 3 stars.
Here’s a breakdown…
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What is this book about?
This book switches in time between the beginning of the Gentleman Bastards becoming a team and the present where Locke is battling fellow Gentle(wo)man Sabetha in a political contest. They are both pawns of two factions of the Bondsmagi, who entertain themselves by competing to see whose political candidate wins. In prior books Locke is matching wits against others, but now he’s finally up against someone with the same training that he has had. The twist is that Locke finds out that he used to be a Bondsmagi who lost his love and in his attempts to get her back, wiped out a large population of people (the plague) and caused him to jump into another body. His new body is not magical and he did not (and does not) remember his past life. In the end Jean/Locke and Sabetha tie in their competition, Sabetha leaves without Jean/Locke, the Bondsmagi fall apart and there’s a promise of something else coming.
What did I think about this book?
-The relationship between Sabetha and Locke- I greatly anticipated the introduction of Sabetha- Locke’s long lost love, and fellow member of the Gentleman Bastards. Unfortunately, in the showdown between these two brilliant minds, Locke was pulling punches, trying to win back the love of his life.
-The structure of the story alternated between past and present. Before each switch, there would be a cliff hanger (sort of what George RR Martin does at the end of each of his character chapters). That is not my favorite thing, it feels gimmicky.
-The Play (The Republic of Thieves)- I will admit to skim reading some of the lines of the play (OK, most of them), so I’m not sure if the play was even relevant to the story. Since it’s the title of the book, I assume it held some relationship with the story (other than just the name of the play they were performing).
-The twist. So….Locke has a history, which has been hinted at all along (his mysterious origin in the plague, his hidden name, etc.). We find out now that he was a Bondsmagi (before he destroyed his body and ended up in a child’s body). This now opens up even more books and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, I was ready for the tale to end with this book.
“The fact that Locke didn’t die instantly may be given as proof that a human male can survive having every last warm drop of blood within his body rush instantly to the vicinity of his cheeks.”
– Patience’s prediction for Locke: “Three things must you take up and three things must you lose before you die: a key, a crown, a child…You will die when a silver rain falls” WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?? This alone makes me interested in the next story.
-I still love Locke and Jean’s relationship.