With The Republic of Thieves author Scott Lynch returns to the world of Locke Lamora and the Gentlemen Bastards for a third time.
The central characters of Locke and Jean owe more than a passing resemblance to Fafhrd and Grey Mouser. Which is I’m sure not accidental. However there’s generally more of an Ocean’s 11 con-element to the plots than straight out thievery. Which is one of the things I really enjoy about the series.
This time round the con-games are generally speaking on a smaller scale than we’ve seen before which is rather a shame because the scenario which puts Locke and Jean up against Sabetha their former partner in crime should have been the setting for ever more outrageous shenanigans.
The return of the Bonds Mages of Karthane and a further exploration of the Eldren and the backstory of this world was certainly a very interesting element. But the supposed A plot seemed rather weak and it really wasn’t at all clear and their meddling in the 5 year game elections didn’t really live up to previous escapades.
It was certainly interesting to finally get to meet Sabetha who has been so frequently referenced in the previous books. Naturally she couldn’t quite live up to that billing, but Lynch did give us a character who was easily able to hold her own against Locke and Jean without making her into some sort of paragon.
The basic structure of each of these books always involves a B story set earlier in the Gentleman Bastards career. It’s a common enough storytelling technique, but I personally have never cared for it since it invariably just gets in the way of me finding out what’s going on in the A story. It’s not that it’s badly executed, I just personally don’t like that particular trick. It’s just something that I accept when reading this series.
Lynch’s stories tend to use surprises and twists on a regular basis in keeping with that Ocean’s 11 vibe he has going. However, it’s generally the sort of twist that adds to re-read value rather than removes it.
I this case however, the big twist is something of a massive disappointment to me. It’s not at all clear to me why it would be necessary make Locke more than he already is. For the moment I’m withholding judgement, but if this isn’t a red-herring I could see myself souring on the series quite quickly.
The other element I didn’t care for was the introduction of a nemesis at right at the end of the book. That’s a move that screams of seriesitus where the books stop being largely self-contained (as they have been up to now) and become just another chapter in a longer work that really doesn’t stand on its own.
These are things that definitely have me worried for the next book in the series, but they don’t significantly hurt this book so it still gets an unreserved recommendation from me.