Review: Republic of Thieves

2890090Title: The Republic of Thieves
Author: Scott Lynch
Genre: Fantasy, adult fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary (MILD SPOILERS FOR BOOK 2):With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.
Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body - though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean's imploring - and the Bondsmage's mention of a woman from Locke's past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.
Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha - or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

This was definitely a slower book than the previous two, but it was still quite good. It's almost been a month and I'm still on the fence about the ending. This book is particularly difficult to review because I am so in love with the characters that I can't bear to say I didn't like certain parts of their story. But then again, there were a few things that I need to get out of my system.

I have been gushing nonstop to anyone who will listen about the gloriousness that is the Gentleman Bastards series. When my copy of the book finally came in the mail, I immediately lent it out to my friends so that even more people could enjoy this incredible series. It is witty, clever, heartfelt, disturbing, gripping, and fun. It's rare that you get all of those things in one book, let alone in every book of a series.

Republic of Thieves does have all of those things I mentioned above, but it's not quite as much fun as the first two books. This book is far more character-centric and is less about the heists than the previous two. I can understand that a series needs to grow and progress, and I rather enjoyed the turn this book took plot-wise. I think it was helpful that I was warned beforehand by Nikki @ TWBI that this book didn't feature the heists I loved so much in the first books.

This book picks up almost immediately after the events of Red Seas Under Red Skies, with Locke incapacitated and Jean struggling to find a cure. When offered a deal with the bondsmagi to help them win an election in exchange for curing Locke, Jean doesn't hesitate. Rigging elections involves a lot of the same skill set as their usual cons, after all. But what the pair don't know is that the rival party has hired the one person Locke may not be able to outwit - the infamous Sabetha.

The rest of this review will contain spoilers for the first two books, so stop here if you haven't read them!

The story takes off from there, alternating between the past and present, showing us the complicated relationship between Locke and Sabetha. "Complicated" doesn't even begin to cover it - I think the author was going through his divorce when he was writing this book, and it shows - Sabetha is portrayed as this elusive, fickle woman who hurts Locke more often than not. Locke is usually such a resourceful guy, but all his cleverness and confidence melts away in the face of Sabetha. As I said in my status update, "Locke stop being a kicked-around puppy and listen to Jean for once in your life!" He tries so hard to get her to admit her feelings for him, and every time he gets close, she shuts down and turns him away. It's so sad to see Locke get so broken and mopey over her after all the things he's overcome to get here.

As I said, this book is really character-centric and even the elections plot is just a way for us to get to know Locke and Sabetha better. Jean continues to be an excellent best friend, and Locke and Jean's friendship is just as incredible as before. I also really enjoyed seeing the Gentleman Bastards with Chains again in the past. It was nice to see Calo and Galdo again! The retaliations between parties were fun and clever for the most part, but as I said that wasn't really the focus of this novel. The bombshell of this novel is finding out Locke's identity - this is the part I can't quite decide if I like or not.
If I have understood correctly, Locke is actually a bondsmagi who cracked the code on turning back the clock, and made himself a little boy again. Locke has no idea about his past, and half believes that Patience is lying to him. It was hard enough for me to swallow Locke's past, but then being told that Patience might be lying ticked me off. I don't know what to believe - I really hope Patience is mistaken but I don't think she is. Also Sabetha's reaction was just so frustrating! She had finally started trusting Locke and accepted her feelings, and then she up and runs away because Locke didn't tell her something he didn't know in the first place. I don't understand...

The epilogue promises an intense rematch between Locke, Jean, and a familiar foe - I can't wait to see how it all plays out!

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