The Republic of Thieves (Book #3) is the third installment in the Gentleman Bastard Series by Scott Lynch.
It goes without saying, following up the first two novels with a book review of The Republic of Thieves was a no brainer.
If you’re not familiar with how I conduct my book reviews, I typically just deliver the general gist of the book to give you an idea of whether or not this novel might be to your liking. I refrain from analyzing specific plot details that would spoil the reading experience for you.
These book reviews are meant to be a preview trailer, not a plot summary. I only include spoilers for previous novels if the novel is a sequential installment in a series.
In this case, The Republic of Thieves is book three of the Gentleman Bastards series, so if you haven’t read any of the prior books… beware!
In short, this book review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers for the plot of The Republic of Thieves. Enjoy!
What reading genre is The Republic of Thieves?
The Republic of Thieves is predominantly considered to be a part of the fantasy reading genre with elements of the romance genre.
How does The Republic of Thieves compare to the rest of the novels in the series?
Yet again, Scott Lynch switched up the entire landscape of this novel, venturing into an altogether distinct atmosphere compared to the past two narratives.
Lies of Locke Lamora centered on a tale of retribution. Red Seas Under Red Skies revolved around the trials and perils of the pirate life. With this installment of the series, we are launched into a political anarchy complicated by reckless, unfettered romance.
This change of venue added an entirely new element to the series. Rather than retelling the same story over and over again, Lynch attempts to avoid repetition and monotony with The Republic of Thieves.
I alway applaud when authors put themselves out there and make these gutsy moves. It takes a lot of courage to stray away from what you know and write an entirely different kind of novel not knowing how it will be received.
Although I did not necessarily welcome the change of scenery, since romance is not particularly my preferred genre of choice, I welcome the effort of taking bold risks.
Are there any new characters introduced in The Republic of Thieves?
The notorious Sabetha that has been intermittently referenced in the previous two novels is finally unveiled in The Republic of Thieves after an immensely protracted buildup. Whereas before she was simply just a name, she now emerges as a preeminent player in the storyline.
How does the introduction of Sabetha influence the story?
Sabetha is pitted against our favorite duo, Jean and Locke, in a strategic battle of wits to satisfy their own opposing agendas.
What complicates things is the former intimate relationship between Locke and Sabetha, laying the groundwork for potential treachery or collusion. This keeps the reader in a state of constant vigilance, searching every page for any subtle hint or clue as to what may come next.
In short, the medley of complications Sabetha presents to Jean and Locke made me thoroughly delighted that she was incorporated into the storyline. Although her inclusion certainly had its weaknesses as well. How? Read further.
Are there any new plot developments in The Republic of Thieves?
As aforementioned, this plot is more of a perplexing romance than anything else.
The convoluted relationship between Locke and Sabetha is thrust to the forefront of the storyline. Are they friends? Foes? Lovers? All that can be said for certain is that their relationship is complicated.
With this intricate relationship analysis came a cost. And that cost was Jean.
In comparison to his high-profile appearances in Red Seas Under Red Skies, Jean takes a backseat in this adventure to make room for the renewed sentimental liaisons of Locke and Sabetha.
This new development was somewhat vexing to me because going into this novel I regarded Jean as a sturdy cornerstone to the series. Jean took on a greater role in the preceding novel, Red Seas Under Red Skies and I was hoping this trend would continue.
So much time was invested into the inner workings of Jean: the hardships that he suffered as a child, how he acquired his superior combat skills and his tragic love story with Ezri. All of this built up characterizations seemed to be gone to waste in The Republic of Thieves.
I personally felt that Lynch could have still preserved the dramatic tension between Locke and Sabetha without coming at the expense of Jean. Jean is simply too valuable of an asset to do away with.
Although Lynch did integrate several new and improved characterization elements to Locke because of the involvement of Sabetha, I would argue that this should not excuse the minimized role of Jean.
Nonetheless, the introduction of Sabetha is worth the reduced emphasis on Jean is ultimately for you to decide.
How is the dialogue in The Republic of Thieves?
As aforementioned, the dialogue of The Republic of Thieves revolves less around Locke and Jean, and is based much more around Locke and Sabetha.
Although I have my qualms with this reshuffling of dialogue prioritization, I must give due credit to how Lynch wonderfully pieced together the back and forth between Locke and Sabetha.
The banter between these two was a joy to read. Sabetha is meant to be the perfect match for Locke in terms of wit and strategy. Lynch accomplished this mission to a T.
There is also less vulgar dialogue this time around. This is a certainly a plus if you are trying to recommend this series to a little one.
As much as I enjoy the conservations of Locke and Sabetha, I cannot help but miss the ribbings of the crew of old.
The dialogue of the first couple chapters harped upon the friendship between Jean and Locke. The heartfelt interactions between this duo as their relationship goes through ups and downs is what marked this series different from the rest.
The opening section invoked strong emotions in me with this ‘bromance.’ Unfortunately, Lynch got away from this as the novel progressed. Although the dialogue between Jean and Locke is good, it could have been improved upon.
Can you describe the overall storyline of The Republic of Thieves?
Throughout The Republic of Thieves, nearly every chapter oscillates methodically between two story lines.
One story line takes place in the present with the fervent contest of the fiery Sabetha versus the brains and brawn of Locke and Jean.
Although Sabetha is a refreshing addition to the series, this narrative became somewhat boring after the opening section of the novel. There is no sense of crisis or urgency. It resembled more of a battle of pranks than anything instead of wits.
The secondary storyline transpires in the past.
It revolves around the initial relationship between Sabetha and Locke that blooms over an unorthodox assignment involving an acting troupe. The couple takes on this mission with the rest of the crew.
We are even able to get an extended glimpse at some of our old favorite characters from the prior novels. This was a welcome surprise and made this plot line a whole lot more intriguing because of the old feelings of nostalgia provoked by these characters.
Of the two storylines, this secondary story line is undoubtedly my favorite.
How long does it take to read The Republic of Thieves?
The Republic of Thieves is a bit of a longer read. The total page count is 704 pages on the dot. The average reader would take a little under fourteen hours to read this novel in its entirety.
The Republic of Thieves takes virtually the same amount of time to read as the rest of the novels in the series. It is neither significantly shorter or longer than Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Lies of Locke Lamora.
Being the third novel of the series, you should be used to the prolonged story content by now. If you have made it this far in the series, the density of this novel should not be a major concern.
What are the dominant themes in The Republic of Thieves?
The principal theme in The Republic of Thieves is love and sacrifice.
Much of the narrative of The Republic of Thieves revolves around the convoluted relationship between Locke and Sabetha. Each individual appears to still harbor some intimate feelings for the other. Yet, with their current predicament , such a romance is strictly forbidden.
Consequently, Locke must determine where he will draw the line with Sabetha. He must decide whether he is willing to sacrifice his duty for love.
Locke continually finds himself on the fence, befuddled as to what his next move will be. What makes the situation worse is that Sabetha gives Locke cryptic signals as to what her intentions are.
The focal point of love and sacrifice definitely took on a greater role in this edition of the series. It was refreshing to see a new theme thrown into the mix.
Another major theme in The Republic of Thieves is hubris.
This theme is seen mostly in one character arc throughout the novel. Honestly, you probably have a good hunch as to who this character is. It is none other than Locke Lamora.
As cunning and intelligent Locke is, he does have his faults. First on this list is his delusion of reality.
At times, Locke believes that his brain can counteract any and all obstacles get in his way. As smart as Locke is, there is no mortal being that can outthink life.
Unfortunately, my favorite protagonist is still ignorant of this fact. For this reason, Locke chases unrealistic ambitions that get him and his friends into troublesome situations.
Although hubris is one of the reasons why I may have taken a liking to this protagonist in the first place, it is still a downfall. I enjoy seeing Locke pursue his seemingly impossible with reckless abandon. Regardless, Locke is the epitome of why pride is so perilous if left unchecked.
Did the feel of the series change at all with the addition of The Republic of Thieves?
The essence of the series remained intact with The Republic of Thieves, but out of all the novels in the saga I must admit this was my least favorite.
I felt that Lynch ventured away from what made Lies of Locke Lamora so unbelievably singular in its originality.
Rather than pursuing the breathtaking heists and notorious gangs of old, Lynch elected to go with a fresh avenue, stressing romance and the supernatural instead.
Although I appreciate Lynch for trying to mix things up, I believed the supernatural elements were much more forced this time around and that the romantic aspects took away from the positive appeal of Jean that was such a heavy point of emphasis in prior novels.
The hard-hitting action took a backseat to the romantic banter. Unfortunately, romance was not what drew me into this series. The camaraderie of the crew and their precarious schemes is what made me stick with this series.
Nonetheless, if you are a fan of the romance genre, these plot modifications might just the thing you were looking for!
What sort of emotions did you feel while reading The Republic of Thieves?
I was honestly just glad to share another adventure with my favorite fantasy duo. Listening to their friendly banter while engaging on some high stakes operation puts a smile on my face.
I was relieved to see that these small details of characterization were not totally stamped out in The Republic of Thieves.
There were bits of disappointment. My qualms mostly with what I previously mentioned about Jean not being as prominent in the storyline. Though, these moments of disappointment were much more fleeting compared to the overall pleasure of reading The Republic of Thieves.
I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention this little tidbit.
At the time Lynch was writing The Republic of Thieves, he was going through a crippling bout of depression.
Although I did not factor this into my review to keep it as subjective as possible, this did have an influence on his writing of The Republic of Thieves. In an interview with Scott Lynch regarding how depression affected his writing, he stated:
“Republic turned into a different book from what I started. That was the divorce. One of the most helpful things my mom said was that a divorce is like death. It’s like a third person in your life dies. And when I pulled myself back together and started writing again, I realized the story I was telling was not the one I started.”
The Republic of Thieves Review Recap
Ultimately, I believe that The Republic of Thieves is worth the read, but it is not a top shelf masterpiece like that of Lies of Locke Lamora.
The glamorous romantic components gave this novel an altogether different feel from the rest of the series. Luckily, there was still enough of my favorite duo of Jean and Locke to grant this novel legitimate reading value.
To embark on yet another adventure with Jean and Locke, get a physical or audiobook copy of The Republic of Thieves here at Amazon.
Click over to a list of some other underrated reads like The Republic Thieves at My Top Underrated Fantasy Books.
“Stand aside, and try not to catch fire if I shed sparks of genius.”
“I don’t expect life to make sense,” he said after a few moments, “but it could certainly be pleasant if it would stop kicking us in the balls.”
“When the sky’s falling, I take shelter under bullshit.”
“What is government but theft by consent?”
The Republic of Thieves Review Rating: 6/10
Back of the Book Blurb
With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.
Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body – though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring – and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.
Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha – or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.