Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

RoT - Gollancz

The Republic of Thieves

Book Three of The Gentleman Bastard Sequence

by Scott Lynch

Fantasy | 598 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2013

| Rating |

The Republic of Thieves continues The Gentleman Bastard Sequence which began with The Lies of Locke Lamora and continued with Red Seas Under Red Skies.

The Lies of Locke Lamora blew me away, Red Seas Under Red Skies was swashbuckling excellence, and The Republic of Thieves lives up to all expectations as an intricately woven, incredibly entertaining and darn right brilliant romp. Having shuffled its way to the top of my floorshelf after an extended hibernation, I soon found myself immersed in a world of daring adventure, bloody theatrics and political intrigue with a multitude of Bastards for company. Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen – Enter, stage right.

Locke and Jean barely escaped with their lives from what should have been the greatest heist of their career, in the port city of Tal Verrar. Now they head north, looking for sanctuary and an alchemist who can cure the poison that is slowly killing Locke. They find neither, but with their luck, money and hope exhausted, they receive an offer from a power that never had their best interests at heart: The Bondsmagi of Karthain.

In exchange for the chance that Locke might be saved, the Bondsmagi expect the two Gentlemen Bastards to rig an election in their home city of Karthain. They will be opposed. The other side has already hired the services of Sabetha Belacoros, the one person in the world who might match Locke’s criminal skill, and the one person in the world who absolutely rules his heart.

Now it will be con artist against con artist in an election that couldn’t be more crooked, all for the benefit of the mysterious Bondsmagi, who have plans within plans and secrets they’re not telling…

The Republic of Thieves is a book of interweaving tales; past and the present competing for excellence as the life of Locke unfolds in alternating scenes. Lynch maintains the dramatic tension throughout both narratives, pulling it off with flair and skill and excitement throughout. The Bondsmagi hold sway over the present narrative, their once mysterious and strange presence develops to become more tangible and give clarity to their motivations. With Locke and Jean indebted to them, the narrative has all the scheming entertainment of the previous novels if lacking some of the threat.

The present is balanced perfectly with the past narrative, or the Interludes. The storyline which simultaneously unfolds links directly back to the present and gives the depth and history necessary for developing very real characters. And Scott Lynch’s characters are brilliant. The Republic of Thieves knits both tales together with humour – life with The Moncraine Company is a definite highlight – and though it isn’t poised on a knife’s edge like The Lies of Locke Lamora, it takes its time to explore the characters, balancing the fun, scheming capers of the present with the close scrapes of the past.

Lynch’s writing style is absolutely captivating; his dialogue is witty and flows effortlessly, his descriptions are wonderfully atmospheric – I can picture Karthain as easily as I ever did Camorr – and his storytelling is sublime. Having the opportunity to explore more of this beautiful and highly dangerous world, and discover the somewhat absurd customs of the Karthaini people, makes for an entertaining read. Lynch’s descriptions are rich and vibrant, his dialogue is full of humour and his worldbuilding, which slots in so naturally throughout the novel, should appeal to critics and enthusiasts both.

The Republic of Thieves is not without its themes either; relationships and love are key to the storyline. But fear not! This is anything but a lovey dovey tale. The introduction of Sabatha, highly intelligent and wholly unpredictable, is a definite highlight; her skill and personality suited to being both a lover and a nemesis.  Every bit Locke’s equal (if not better) in skill, their relationship is the driving force behind both the past and present narratives. Lynch’s truest love story, however, will always be the epic bromance of Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen.

The Republic of Thieves is a wonderfully fun tale which, though lacking some of the tension of previous novels, gives them a run for their money in terms of characterisation and world development. If you’re new to The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, go grab a copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora; if not then why haven’t you read this yet?! Keep them coming Mr. Lynch, I for one will always keep buying.

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