The Republic of Thieves is one of those books that make me second guess all the other 5 star ratings I have doled out this year. In some ways it felt very familiar (in a good way) to go back to reading a story by Lynch. Once again, I love his prose. I love the irreverent nature of the Bastards. In addition to the scheming and thievery, each book so far has shown Locke grow in his relationships with people around him.
Lies of Locke Lamora showed Locke grow from independent orphan out for his own survival, to learning to become part of (and lead) a tight knit group of thieves. He evolved and learned to think beyond himself and towards the good of his comrades as well, he learned to appreciate strengths possessed by others and that working together is mutually beneficial. He learned his actions on his own could also have severe results on his allies if he doesn’t take the time to look at the larger picture. In Red Seas under Red Skies, Locke adjusted from being part of a group to becoming part of a pair, a team of two. We saw evolutions in Locke and Jean’s relationship as well with that book.
This book focuses on Locke’s relationship with one person largely absent (but often mentioned) in previous books. Sabetha. The mysterious Sabetha who we glimpsed just briefly in Shades Hill when she was still but a child. The girl and woman who we know captured Locke’s heart so completely.
Republic of Thieves is two stories entwined, or I suppose it could be considered one story covering two time frames. We get to revisit the young Gentleman Bastards for much of this book. Calo, Galdo are once again in the story. Father Chains. For alternating chapters, we get to forget their sad fate and enjoy the flashbacks that bring them to life at a younger age, a largely pubescent. They work their charm together, each person contributing to pull off their latest scheme.
I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback story. There is no Bug, this story predates him, but there is Caldo and Galdo and the fun debauchery that comes with them. Jean, before he was as visually intimidating as he becomes in adulthood. Locke, well, Locke still seems so very much Locke. And now we see Sabetha and what kind of hold or effect she has on Locke, we see their exploration of first love.
The current day story line brings Sabetha back into the fold of Locke’s life. However, they are pitted against each other. Locke struggles with the distraction of being romantically obsessed with his opposition, trying to find a way to win her back and yet beat her at the same time. (And avoid any tricks she may have in store for him, because she is every bit as intent on winning). I enjoyed their struggles.
I enjoyed learning about Sabetha, seeing her not just as an idolized first love, but as a person, fallible, awkward at times. This story brings Sabetha from a romanticized memory of Locke’s to a real person with strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know that the current day conflict seemed quite as on scale with previous books, but I found myself not caring. I enjoyed the story, which is ultimately the purpose of a book to begin with. That said, I think readers reactions to this book will likely come down to what they think of Sabetha. This is more a story of Locke’s evolving relationship with her than it is a grand scheme that has to pull off. She’s not perfect, there are things to dislike about her, but at the end of the book, I felt like I understood her, and I really enjoyed reading the story.
To keep this spoiler free, I won’t comment much on the end of The Republic of Thieves other than there is a great setup for books to come. So now, my wait for The Thorn of Emberlain begins.
The Republic of Thieves will be released Oct. 8th by Del Rey Spectra in the US and Oct. 10th by Gollancz in the UK. Many thanks to the Del Rey Spectra and NetGalley for the ARC in return for my honest review.