The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard #3) by Scott Lynch
Published in 2013 by Del Rey.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (hardback).

Genre: Adult high fantasy.

My rating:

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.

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This is the review for the third part of the series, so it will definitely contain some spoilers for the previous two books. You can read my reviews of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies – and then we’ll chat! :) This isn’t a simple review, either, but a delayed sort of read-along I’m doing with DJ from MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape – we’re calling it The Bastard Read-along. So if you’re reading this as well (either for the first time or re-reading in preparation of the forthcoming publication of The Thorn of Emberlain), leave the link to your review in the comments and I’ll make sure to link it somewhere in this post and in the master post of the read-along as well. If nothing else, be sure to check out DJ’s review – he’s reading the books for the first time so his perspective is different from mine!

Now, I am definitely sure I only read The Republic of Thieves once before – I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d read Red Seas Under Red Skies once or twice, and I’ve now read The Lies of Locke Lamora at least five times (which makes sense since I’m translating it into Slovenian). My memory of this book was therefore much more sketchy than with the previous two books, which isn’t that bad, actually.

The Republic of Thieves brings back an element I missed with Red Seas Under Red Skies: the flashbacks to the time when Gentleman Bastards were still a young gang of thieves, going through a rigorous education. Here, though, we have an actual parallel story line, unlike with Lies of Locke Lamora, where the flashbacks serve mostly to illustrate the characters’ backstory and the setting.

The switching of timelines – the past one where the young Gentleman Bastards depart for a foreign city to put on a stage production of a famous play, The Republic of Thieves, and the present one where Jean and Locke are competing with Sabetha to win the election in Karthain – make for a fast-paced story, much like in the first book. None of the parts dragged like they did with the second book, and I was once again immersed in both stories, cheering on Locke and his crew.

But the tone of this third book is different from the first one. Here, Locke is no longer the cocksure, brilliant thief convinced he’s the smartest of all – he’s lost friends and made mistakes, so while his schemes are still brilliant, his thoughts are tinged with regret and even self-doubt. Jean is grieving but still his loyal self, ready to prove that his friendship with Locke will always stand the test of time.

The most significant addition to the story, however, is Sabetha. I know many fans disliked her – she is proud, distrustful, and even a little traitorous, but I thought she was great. We’ve been listening to Locke pine away for her for two books, and now that she’s finally here, she’s human. Yes, she’s brilliantly educated and beautiful – Locke’s obsession with her has not diminished – but she’s also wary and prickly and careful, worried she’ll make the same mistakes that made her run from the Gentleman Bastards in the first place. I loved her relationship with Jean, the fact that they managed to talk despite the huge obstacle that is Locke Lamora’s ego.

I also need to mention the Bondsmagi – the scary order of magicians we’ve met before in the form of the Falconer who aided the Grey King slaughter half of Camorri criminals in the first book. Here, the Bondsmagi are the silent force that toys with the people of Karthain, steering the election like it’s some sort of a puppet show. I liked the insight we got into their world, I admired (and loathed) Patience and was horrified by what remained of the Falconer.

The hints about the Eldren were also interesting; this ancient, mysterious civilization that left behind magnificent ruins and vanished without a trace. I really, really hope we’ll get to discover more about them in the rest of the series.

And now all there’s left to do is wait for The Thorn of Emberlain to be published. We know the unrest in the Kingdom of the Seven Marrows is reaching boiling point and our favorite thieves will probably try to make the most of it. I hope we’ll get to see more Sabetha as well, but I’ll let Lynch surprise me. This is definitely one of my most anticipated releases and I hope it’ll happen in 2017.

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Have you read The Republic of Thieves? What did you think?

Are you as eager as I am to read The Thorn of Emberlain?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

  • Yes I have and I love this series. And yes I am very eager to read Thorn. I have read lies three of four times, Red Seas at least twice. Fully in this fan club.

    • We should name ourselves. The Bastards? It’s a cool fan club to belong to. And I should probably try to source some fan fic, I’m sure it’s properly deviant.

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Love this series so much! Glad to see you fully appreciate it! :)

    • Yes! It’s freaking fantastic. I wish Lynch was a faster writer but we can’t have it all, can we?

  • I have seen this series around and while I love fantasy, I worry that it might be too much for me. You make such a strong case though and I really really want to meet these characters, who sound amazing. I’m glad that this was better than the second book for you! I hpe the next one is just as terrific as this one.

    • It’s definitely on the HIGH side of high fantasy, that’s true. It’s also a huge undertaking, considering there are 7 books planned. But for me, it’s worth it all the way! :)

  • Pingback: The Bastard Read-Along: The Republic of Thieves (Gentlemen Bastard Sequence #3) by Scott Lynch | MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape()

  • My favorite element too was the flashbacks to when Gentleman Bastards were still a young gang of thieves! I really hope those don’t even go away again in the future books! Or hey, maybe one day will get a novella with them or something?! (A man can dream) XD

    I enjoyed Sabetha’s character a lot, thought I can easily see how some readers wouldn’t like her. Many many times, I found myself frustrated with how she was treating Locke and with decisions made regarding the two of them. I’ll be honest, way more often than not, I found myself wondering why Locke was in Love with her.

    With that ending, super stoked to see what will happen next – but what is going on with the Eldren?! We are still getting these little hints, almost nonchalantly, thrown here and there… I wonder if it will somehow tie into the story? Like, it his too, Right? Lol

    Goodreads, says April release this year for Thorns! Fingers crossed :D

    • Yeah of course, I think we’re meant to wonder why Locke is in love with Sabetha. If everyone was in love with her, I’d dislile her for sure. She’s just IT for Locke – the heart has its own rules.

      Ohhh a release date!! I hope it’ll happen finally. And we managed to read all three just in time! :) I’m really happy we did this, DJ.

  • Greg Hill

    So here is where I say (again) that I really need to read this series! lol it does sound fun but something has held me back, I don’t know if it’s just hesitation on my part to start a new big fantasy series. anyway glad this one was good! Sabetha definitely sounds interesting, and I like the Eldren hints- ruined civilizations are a favorite trope of mine! :)

    • Ruined civilizations are fantastic and here the Eldren are super mysterious. Like nobody knows what they even looked like! They just left behind loads of Elderglass, a substance humans can’t even dent, let alone shape – and it glows on its own at dusk every day. :) Super cool. I hope you’ll give it a try!

  • GAH, I have to catch up on this series ASAP! As of this moment, I’ve committed to reading Red Seas Under Red Skies next month — it’s only been on my shelf for three years! Based on how much I loved the first book, I’m sure I’m gonna enjoy it. I mean, lady pirates! 😄

    • Red Seas is my least favorite of the three but it’s still a fantastic read. Lady pirates are definitely a highlight and I know you’ll like it! :)

  • Darn! I fell off the readalong wagon somehow. I had really good intentions, but somehow after the first book I never managed to pick up the second. I really want to continue the series though, so I need to get on that.

    • Eh, the readalong was supposed to end in March 2016 so we’ve fallen off the wagon, too. We somehow made it to the end and now we’re waiting for the last book to happen! :) I hope you’ll continue the series!