The Republic of Thieves is the third and much anticipated outing for this fantastic character and his fellow ‘Gentleman Bastard’, Jean Tannen. Thief, trickster and con man, whatever scheme you can dream of, you can pretty much guarantee that the Gentleman Bastards have already been there, done that. Locke Lamora’s more than your average loveable rogue, and not only because you can’t help loving him a whole lot more than average, but also because he’s the best of the best.
Or is he? Things do seem to have been going poorly for Locke and Jean in recent years, and now he’s being twisted and turned - mostly against his will - and pitted against the one person most likely to beat him in any game: the elusive Sabetha. Anyone who’s read Locke’s earlier adventures, The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, will be primed for the proper introduction of Sabetha, long lost Gentleman Bastard and long lost love of Locke’s Life. Who is she? What happened between them? All will be revealed in the following pages via Scott Lynch’s typical style of modern mayhem coupled with childhood flashbacks.
Reading The Republic of Thieves has been like getting reacquainted with old friends – friends who you’d kind of forgotten who totally awesome they are because it’s been so long since you last saw them. It was, however, absolutely worth the wait – I was a little worried when I first opened the book that the story would be overshadowed by Lynch’s personal difficulties (the reason, I understand, for the large gap in time between books), but before I knew what was happening he’d transported me straight back there in all it’s grit and glory, just as I remembered it from the past. More of the grit and less of the glory, though, perhaps!
Locke’s world is one of fantasy and yet it’s not entirely fantastical – the lands are a little different, the people are a little different, there is the Eldren legacy and there is magic, but everything else pretty much works just the same as our own world. Gradually, though, book by book, Lynch is revealing a little more of the fantasy element, and The Republic of Thieves is particularly rich with hints of the Eldren and questions about their history. How did they build the magnificent glass structures that have endured for the thousands of years that they have? What happened to the Eldren themselves – were they wiped out or did they simply leave? Why, and how?
And will Locke and Sabetha ever manage to sort themselves out? She is certainly a conundrum – though she features strongly in this volume, she remains rather hard to understand and interpret, changeable and quick to burn as she is, perhaps because as strong as Locke’s love for is, he doesn’t entirely understand her either. Lot’s of food for thought for future volumes – of which I hope there will be many. Witty, fun, and totally engaging, I rather like the idea of spending my lifetime getting to know these wonderful characters and this intriguing world in ever more detail.