Thursday, 14 November 2013

Review: The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch

The long-awaited third part in the Gentlemen Bastard series came out fairly recently, and I’ve just finished it.

The story tells the tale of Locke Lamora and his best friend Jean, as the latter seeks to find a cure for the former’s exotic and potent poisoning. As with the previous two books in the series, Mr. Lynch flits between the present day and Lamora’s formative experiences growing up as a thief under the wing of Father Chains.

Naturally, Locke doesn’t die in the first six minutes, and gets a cure on condition that he and Jean help his saviours rig an election. After agreeing, he discovers a childhood rival has been hired to do exactly the same thing for his opponents.

The writing remains very good, and it’s easy to end up reading rather more than was intended. The time-shifts between childhood and present day storylines is handled seamlessly, and both plots are interesting in their own right (instead of one seeming like an interval or diversion to the main event).

I felt like the pacing was slightly off. The writing’s always enjoyable and easy to read (it was even spelt in proper English [armour not armor], although someone got too excited with restoring Us to their rightful place and had ‘evapourating’ a few times), but there was a bit too much preamble before the story got going.

There was also a certain lack of tension. With the childhood storyline we know Locke et al. don’t end up dead, and in the present day there was, for the most part, little in the way of mortal danger. One or two plot twists were also telegraphed (not always a bad thing, the final one was very well-written, but one or two mid-story were easy to see coming).

However, there’s also a revelation that nobody will ever have seen coming. I shan’t spoil it, but I thought it was excellent.

It was interesting to see Karthain, which had been mentioned in previous books, and have more of the bondsmagi who rule it. Personally, I found the childhood half of the story the more engaging, and the interactions between the various (youthful) Gentlemen Bastards quite entertaining.

The above might seem somewhat critical, but it’s worth bearing in mind that The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of my favourite books. Mr. Lynch has rather created a rod for his own back by writing such a stellar first story for all else to be compared to.

The Republic of Thieves is an interesting and enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to The Thorn of Emberlain (part four in the series).


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