The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
The Republic of Thieves
Scott Lynch‘s The Republic of Thieves is a beautiful read. It has everything a reader can want from Lynch and Locke. I have to admit that Red Seas Under Red Skies didn’t grab me as much as The Lies of Locke Lamora, but the third installment remedied my faith into the series completely. This was one of the books I enjoyed reading the most this year, because the dialog is one hell of a great ride. I was constantly laughing because of the witty banter, perfect riposte and overall greatness of Lynch’s way with conversations. No matter how grim the situation is, you can expect Locke to have the appropriate (or highly inappropriate) things to say. I was reading through this book and every second page I stopped thinking to myself: “You need to quote this in your review, it’s just too good not to”.
The story starts where Red Seas Under Red Skies left off: Locke is dieing and no one can help him. I don’t think anyone will be surprise when I say that he doesn’t die at the beginning of the book. Through some sort of contract (we all know the drill by now: ‘Locke: “I don’t want to!” The Bad Guys: “You don’t have a choice!”‘) he becomes the leader of an election campaign with his strongest adversary yet. The back and forth is a delicate dance showing us all the wits and skills we so love from our favorite thief.
This is not the only story line. We get to know more about Locke’s past and, more important, of his relationship with Sabetha. This elusive creature finally comes to the surface and it is a beauty to behold. When the name was first spoken in this book, when it became clear we would finally get to know her, I was thrilled. And I haven’t been disappointed. I can understand why Locke is head over heels for her, but it is no easy love. Having already finished the book, I’m still not sure how I personally stand to Sabetha, women are just so damn confusing.
But the past isn’t as interesting as the present and I’d have liked to know more about his duel in the election, not about the performance from years past. But there’s one thing very well done and that’s the switch between past and present. You’re at a major cliffhanger at the end of a chapter and you want to know what happens next? Fear not, you can read it…after we go back/forth in time for a chapter. It enhances the tension for me, but I could understand when some people would skip a chapter too.
A very important part is the still ongoing mystery about the world and Locke in particular. While the story evolves we get hints at more–much more–going on beneath the surface. And we are as doubtful as Locke as to whether or not we can trust what’s told. It’s so convincing, but is it true? Or is it simple revenge? Especially the end is a big spectacle and the only thing I could think about was how gruesome the wait until the next book will be.
I don’t think I need to say much about the characters. They are as interesting as ever, sometimes bordering the crazy, but in a lovely way. It was especially interesting to learn more about their pasts and their relationship to each other. We see them grow up and learn about their first big “work”. The beauty about the characters is in the dialog and their interaction. Ah, and I should mention that I learned a lot of interesting swear words and whole sentences. Gotta up them to good use sometimes!
There is only one thing I find lacking and that’s the world building. Lynch does so much incredible work in showing us a juicy world, but it’s often only implied or mentioned marginally. I’d love to see more serious and deep world building, because I enjoy learning as much as possible about different worlds. There are so many interesting cities and cultures, but we only get the bare minimum of information about them. While I like that the book centers around the Gentlemen Bastards, I’d love to see a broader picture of the world sometimes. This was only enhanced by the disclosure of secrets and possibilities.
If you like the first two installments, if you like the way Scott Lynch writes, you can’t go around this book! It was definitely a book I enjoyed very much and one of the highlights of this year. I was amazed when I saw it standing in my favorite bookstore, days before it came out. I went there originally to order it and I went home with the book. I’ve never been more pleased with my bookstore. The Republic of Thieves commanded my days and nights, often holding me in its clutches until 2 or 3 am. But there is one big and ugly downside I feel obliged to mention to you all: I’m already feeling symptoms of withdrawal and I’ve no idea how long we’ll have to wait until The Thorn of Emberlain finally comes out.