The Republic of Thieves is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series, following the rollicking success of 2007's The Lies of Locke Lamora and 2008's Red Seas Under Red Skies.
The first two books in the Gentleman Bastards series were widely heralded as the arrival of a truly great voice in fantasy and the third book was widely anticipated, and anticipated and anticipated. Word came out that Lynch was battling depression which hampered his writing and finally the third book in the series came out five years after the second. The fourth book, The Thorn of Emberlain is scheduled for Fall 2015.
I read The Republic of Thieves eagerly when it first came out in 2013 but have delayed my review of the book due to the fact I have been spending more time reading books than reviewing them on my blog recently. The third book really is quite good, definitely not as good as the first one but better than most fantasy books. According to goodreads, the Gentleman Bastards books have ratings of 4.28 (Lies), 4.22 (Skies) and 4.21 (Thieves), respectively. The Amazon ratings are similar to the goodreads: 4.3 (Lies), 4.2 (Skies) and 4.2 (Thieves).
The Republic of Thieves is a large and complicated book. It takes place in multiple time lines and follows the story of Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, two of the principal members of the Gentleman Bastards, a group of talented grifters and thieves we have come to know and love in the first two books in the series. The book tells the past backstory of the love of Locke's life, a former member of the group named Sabetha Belacoros, as well as sets up a current high-stakes clash between the two where the goal is to win a majority of seats in a local city council election by any means necessary.
There is also a meta-plot (which gets short shrift, if I recall correctly) about the near-omnipotent beings who set the current situation into motion and who were maneuvering mostly behind-the-scenes to influence the events that occurred in the first two books.
The Gentleman Bastards books are a lot of fun, primarily because of the characters of Locke and Jean and the rest of the crew (I'm a big fan of the Sanza twins) and the sheer hilarity of the capers that they are forced to pull off to extricate themselves from the situations they find themselves in. In addition to his imagination for intriguing heists, the author distinguishes himself from a large fraction of fantasy by his use of language, especially his incisive deployment of humor, insult and mockery by his characters.
In the end The Republic of Thieves is negatively impacted (in my opinion) by its reliance on making the central tension in the plot be about Locke's infatuation with Sabetha and the question of whether there is a way that the two can ever find romantic happiness together or not. Don't get me wrong, this is not to say that The Republic of Thieves is a Gabaldonian hybrid of romance and science fiction, it's just that this particular sub-plot of "will they or won't they" became uninteresting to me after awhile and lead to part of the middle third of the book tending to drag a bit.
That being said, I am very glad that Lynch has continued the Gentleman Bastards series and it looks like that we will have a new entry in the series by the end of this year. I can't wait!
Title: The Republic of Thieves.
Author: Scott Lynch.
Paperback: 608 pages.
Date: October 10, 2013.
OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).