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The Republic of Thieves

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch The Republic of Thieves is the third book in Scott Lynch’s ongoing Gentleman Bastard series. Wait! Where you going? You don’t need to be familiar with the series to read this review. All you need is some tolerance for paragraphs of prattle.

The series (so far) is basically about the adventures of Locke Lamora and his BFF Jean Tannen. Both are super-skilled thieves whose gang has been destroyed in the first book [b: The Lies of Locke Lamora|127455|The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)|Scott Lynch|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924569s/127455.jpg|2116675], in the second book [b: Red Seas Under Red Skies|887877|Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)|Scott Lynch|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1426312779s/887877.jpg|856785], they have moved to a city called Tal Verrar where they swindle a casino owner and also become involved in piracy. At the beginning of this third book, The Republic of Thieves, Locke is still suffering from an extremely rare poison administered to him during his casino rip-off project. No antidote exists and his only chance for survival is with the help of a “Bondsmagi” (sorcerer), he will, of course, have to render them a service.
What the Bondsmagi want is for him to rig an election to ensure the victory for a party chosen by their faction (of the Bondsmagis). The trouble is Sabetha — the love of Locke’s life — is working for the opposing faction, and she is just as devious as he is.

Scott Lynch likes his current and flashback alternating timelines, here he uses the same structure that he used in his previous books. I think he likes to tease the reader with a little cliffhanger at the end of each chapter then jump to the other timeline. I don’t really see the charm of it myself, the two timelines are independent of each other and they have no connecting point. I think the story’s momentum would be better maintained if he just put the chapters of each timeline in a different division of the book (like Book 1 and Book 2 you know). There is also a little separate plot stand — set in the “present day” — where the Bondsmagi are up to no good.

Since the first book of the series Lynch has been teasing the details of Sabetha, Locke’s love interest. She is mentioned in passing and is clearly a significant figure in his life, and the breaker of his heart. Beyond those little hints throughout the previous volumes, we don’t know anything about her. In The Republic of Thieves she is finally revealed in all her badass redheaded glory. After all the built-up she does not disappoint, her character is very well developed and vivid.

Some parts of the book are a little disappointing, however. The main plotline about the election rigging is amusing at best, but it is not very exciting compared to the life and death crises of the previous books. The flashback is not much better, most of it is based around putting on a theatrical play. The stakes of each plotline just seem to be a little inconsequential. However, some unforeseen plot twists do eventually liven up both plot strands towards the end of the book. In fact, the very dark and foreboding epilogue leaves the series in a thrilling place.

So I am a little disappointed with how less than thrilling much of The Republic of Thieves is, but Lynch’s narrative is always very readable and often humorous, and the dialogue often sparkles. The next book in the series (to be published next year) promises great things so I am looking forward to that.

3.5 stars then (rounded up to 4 because I’m a glass half-full kinda guy)