The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love this series. I cannot say enough good things about the characters and world building, the tone and pacing, the plot and prose. That said, this may be my least favorite book so far in the series - and yet it had some of my favorite moments in the series, as well. Oh, I know, that sounds contradictory. And maybe it is. Lemme ‘splain.
First, if you’ve read the first two Gentleman Bastards books (and if you haven’t, for gods’s sake, don’t try to start the series with book 3! That’s just uncivilized in general and in this specific case would be a tragic disservice to yourself as a reader.) Ahem, as I was saying, if you’ve read the first two books, you know that the storytelling pattern here is two timelines unfolding at once: The “Now” timeline, juxtaposed with interludes from the “Past”: Locke’s (and Jean’s and Sabetha’s) childhood years.
In the “Now” timeline of this installment, we have The Heist Plot and The Relationship Plot - it’s up for debate as to whether the heist is the “Plot” and the Relationship is the “SubPlot”. I, personally, think of them the other way ‘round.
In the “Past” timeline, the interludes unveiled a “Past Heist” and “Past Relationship” plots as well. Through all three of his books, Mr. Lynch does a terrific job of pacing the reveals and twists and turns of each timeline and each plot with excellent timing so that the unfolding stories complement in a most satisfying manner.
In Republic of Thieves, though, I found something lacking in the The Heist of the “Now” timeline. This was somewhat disappointing considering how fantastic The Heist plots were in the previous two books. This one just fell flat in several areas, including a huge overall “huh?” factor when it came to the motivation of the “Clients”. There were a few fantastic signature “Gentlemen Bastard” moments, though, that mostly made up for the overall “meh” I felt about The Heist.
But if The Heist Plot left something wanting, The “Now” Relationship Plot and the plot/subplot of the “Past” Interludes more than made up for it. Maybe it has something two do with the two books’ worth of teasing, (You are slightly evil, Mr. Lynch. Anyone ever tell you that?) but I was so full of antici … pation about finally “meeting” Sabetha and seeing her and Locke together that I was actually afraid the reality could not live up to the hype. But it did. I love these characters together - past and present - and I cannot wait to see how The Relationship unfolds as The Heists continue in the next books.
Trying to stay spoiler-free and not give away a bit of a “twist” toward the end of the book, I will say that Lynch introduced a new and pretty much un-foreshadowed element in this third installment of Locke’s story (Yes, I ADORE Jean and Sabetha, but let’s be honest, this is Locke’s story.) that I’m not entirely sure I am going to like. But this author has more than earned the benefit of my doubt and I will be very interested to see where the next book takes my favorite Gentlemen Bastards.
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