Review: The Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch

  • Title: The Republic of Thieves
  • Author: Scott Lynch
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Why: Because Scott Lynch is a genius.
  • Rating: 5 Stars

Description: 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.

Review: Well, that was an epic read. One week of obsessing over it, and now I have a massive book hangover.

To start with, Scott Lynch is a genius. No matter how much anyone likes reading books in general, sometimes you come across a book, or a series of books, that hit you like a punch between the eyes. They go straight to your heart, and somehow you’ll never feel the same. That’s what this book did to me, just as its predecessors did.

The Lies of Locke Lamora was a wonderful romp through heists and thievery, which then gave a sucker punch to the gut and a painfully melancholy ending. Red Seas under Red Skies further fleshed out the characters, but delivered another sucker punch. And in both books there was the ever-looming (if not often mentioned) presence of Sabetha, the love of Locke’s life.

This book is all about Locke and Sabetha. Oh, it has a plot, of course. It has two, in fact, with one storyline focusing on their past back when they were still under the tutelage of old Chains, and the other following the present. Yet throughout both plots you are never far away from the complicated, confused and difficult relationship between Locke and Sabetha. It is often heart-wrenching to read, but everything Locke experiences is so vividly described that you cannot help but remember every flushed, flustered and downright embarrassing conversation you’ve ever had with someone you were deeply in love with. It is endearing and so, so recognisable to see how smooth-tongued, acid-witted Locke turns into a stammering fool around Sabetha.

I’ve seen someone else say it, but ultimately your enjoyment of this book will hinge on what you think of Sabetha. For some she might not live up to expectations, but for me she did, and the book pulled me in like few other books have done before.

I should also mention Jean Tannen. At the start of the book Locke is still poisoned and very close to death, and Jean proves his unwavering loyalty time and again by refusing to give up on him, even if Locke is ready to give up on himself. It’s almost inevitable that Jean gets sidelined a bit once Sabetha comes to the fore, but he is as strong a character as ever.

This book had fewer laugh out loud moments than the previous two, despite even the presence of Calo and Galdo Sanza in the past story plot. I would also say that the plot is far more secondary than it was previously. And the ending… I won’t call it disappointing, but it left me a little unsatisfied, maybe because I’m not entirely sure that I understand what happened. I’m hoping it’ll become clearer on further readings, and it is a minor point anyway, because the bulk of this book had me losing sleep that I could little afford to miss, simply because I could not put it down.

Another fantastic effort from Scott Lynch, and I already can’t wait for the next book.

Originally published on Silk Screen Views:


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