The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
The third book in the Gentleman Bastards series, this one sits just about even with “Red Seas Under Red Skies” and slightly under “Lies of Locke Lamora” in my rankings. The writing is deep, thoughtful, gloriously complex, and excellently executed. Mr. Lynch’s characters are fabulously made and the world he’s created is immersive and mesmerizing. These are fantasy books of the highest order and the greatest compliment I can pay to the series, is describing what happened to me as I finished this third book.

I found myself desperately wondering how the series could possibly end with the events in “Republic of Thieves”. How the overall story could ever wrap up. How we readers could possibly bid farewell to Locke, Jean, Sabetha and all the others. As I stormed towards the end of the story, I grew more concerned as I could see that Mr. Lynch wasn’t, in fact, tying up the ends of the tale. No--he’s actually laying out more plot and leading us to a wicked cliffhanger. And finally, thank goodness, I realized this one wasn’t the end. No, there is a fourth book forthcoming in the series.

AND, even more spectacularly, a quick search of the author’s website has led me to discover plans for a total of SEVEN Locke Lamora books. HUZZAH!!!!!

The best and most unique thing about this series is the changing focus from book to book. In the first, the whole story is about gangs, spies, cons, thieves and loyalty. Full of double crosses, twists and surprises as Locke and friends are players in multiple deadly contests full of intrigue and espionage.

Then, in “Red Skies”, the focus shifts to piracy. There are still the familiar elements of thievery and deception carried forth but the action leaves the back alleys and the grimy cities and happens on the high seas where we actually learn a little about nautical life on grand ships and in dangerous ports. Mr. Lynch obviously did his research to keep Locke’s watery adventures flowing and crashing over us like mighty, menacing ocean waves.

And in this book, “Republic of Thieves”, Mr. Lynch moves to a tale of deep, corrupt political intrigue, while also pressing the overall series story arc forward by using an extended flashback of Locke and his crew performing a wonderful dramatic play in a small city. So in “real time” Locke and his faithful companion Jean (pronounced the French way “Zhaun” not “Jeen”) are compelled to use tricks and tactics to sway an election towards the party who has hired them. Meanwhile, in the “flashback”, the author lays out an important event in Locke’s past where he and the Gentleman Bastards traveled together to a remote city and performed an epic play. A drama which amazed and entertained those around them, while also, of course, getting the crew embroiled in and then escaping a spot of danger. Again, Mr. Lynch has been accurate and thorough in his writing, giving us excellent info about the production of the dramatic play, as well as the complex mechanics of campaigning and ultimately fixing an election.

The Locke Lamora series is magnificent and I highly recommend these books to all fans of deep, high-fantasy novels. The writing is mature with foul language, a little violence and some romance but nothing is graphic or gratuitous. However, due to this and the general complexity of the plot and characters, I’d say these are for college-age readers and older. I can’t emphasize this enough, Scott Lynch is a master of the written word and has created a complete, coherent, coordinated, fantastically conceived series for us that I simply cannot wait to read more of!

Happy Reading!

My Write-Up on the other Locke Lamora books