REVIEW: The Republic of Thieves
Sadly, this is the last book currently available in this lengthy planned series. I believe there are going to be a total of seven books, so I'll have a good long wait ahead of me. The author suffered a major personal tragedy in the midst of writing these, so I don't blame him for the lengthy hiatus. I'll pick them up when they come out, even if I'm 80.
Many people claim this is the weakest of the available books in the Gentleman Bastards series, but I found it quite enjoyable. It didn't have all the flashy battles of Red Seas or the grimdark grit of Lies, but I think this book was more successful than its predecessor in several ways.
Republic starts out with Locke on his deathbed, and damn if Lynch didn't hit the nail on the head when it comes to portraying the dynamic between Locke and Jean during such a heart-wrenching situation. You can feel Jean's helplessness and taste Locke's bitter resignation. The two main characters leap off the page for the first several chapters and you can't help but take their struggle personally. Throughout this third installment, Locke and Jean play off one another wonderfully and their bond rings authentic in every scene.
Pacing was probably the most notable improvement in Republic. I rarely felt like the story dragged. Even when I wasn't terribly interested in what was happening, the content was still clearly moving the plot forward and thus kept me coming back for more. Despite the book being thick with political intrigue, we still got the occasional breath of fresh air, with Locke and Jean putting their coarser skills to use, intimidating people and wreaking general havoc. There were enough antics to keep me laughing and enough mystery to keep me guessing.
Speaking of laughter, the humor in this one is a trove of polished gems. Banter and situational comedy both. Well done, Scott.
Romance was set up as a big part of this installment, with the fabled Sabetha finally coming into the picture, but I honestly had a hard time getting into it. While she has her perfectly valid reasons to be stand-offish and suspicious of others' motives, her inability to trust the very people she grew up with makes her infuriating to read. The flashbacks to the group's past were intended to flesh out the long-standing, complicated relationship between Locke and Sabetha, but for me it only served to demonstrate that she is just as emotionally juvenile as she was ten years ago. She still makes the same rash judgements on others. She still gets offended at the drop of a hat. And she still doesn't trust the people who are essentially her only family in the world. Seriously, girl. Get your shit together.
Other than that, I didn't really feel the flashback story line was entirely necessary, but I'm guessing it will be important in the later books. I did enjoy seeing Jean get his first taste of manhood, and Calo and Galdo are always a lot of fun to read. I also really liked the ending to this one. Some call it a cliffhanger. Maybe it is. I think it just set readers up nicely for the next book with a bit of ominous teasing. There are some dark clouds on the horizon for Locke, and I look forward to seeing where this story goes.
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