The Republic of Thieves [book review]

At last! The third volume in Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series has appeared!After several years of despairing ever seeing the sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora and of Red Seas under Red Skies, The Republic of Thieves eventually appeared.  The author thus managed to get over his chronic depression to produce a book in par with the previous two volumes… Judging from the many reviews found on the Web, reception ranges from disappointed to ecstatic. I do think this volume is very good, if below the initial The Lies of Locke Lamora in terms of freshness and plot. There is consistency in terms of the series, some explanations are provided wrt earlier obscure points, new obscure points are created in preparation for the next volumes, and the main characters broaden and grow in depth and complexity. Mostly.

The book The Republic of Thieves is much more innovative than its predecessor from a purely literary viewpoint, with story told within story, with on top of this a constant feedback to the origins of the Gentlemen Bastards upper-scale thieves band. The inclusion of a real play which title is the same as the title of the book is a great idea, albeit not exactly new (from Cyrano de Bergerac to The Wheel of Time to The Name of the Wind), as it gives more coherence to the overall plot. The Gentlemen Bastards as depicted along those books are indeed primarily fabulous actors and they manage their heists mostly by clever acting, rather than force and violence. (Covers hence miss the point completely by using weapons and blood.) It thus makes sense that they had had training with an acting troop… Now, the weakest point in the book is the relationship between the two central characters, Locke Lamora and Sabetha Belacoros. This is rather unfortunate as there are a lot of moments and a lot of pages and a lot of dialogues centred on this relationship! Lynch seems unable to strike the right balance and Locke remains an awkward pre-teen whose apologies infuriate Sabetha at every corner… After the third occurence of this repeated duo, it gets quickly annoying. The couple only seems to grow up at the very end of the book. At last! Apart from this weakness, the plot is predictable at one level, which sounds like the primarily level… (spoiler?!) until a much deeper one is revealed, once again in the final pages of the book which, even more than in the previous ones, turn all perspectives upside-down and desperately beg for the next book to appear. Hopefully in less than six years…

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