Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Monthly Manly Review #1: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Purrfectly Bookish Monthly Manly Review #1

It seems like the majority of book bloggers are women and studies have shown that women read more than men. That's not true in our house! My husband, Jason, reads almost as much as I do. We tend to pick different genres (he likes sci-fi more, I like fantasy more), but I still love discussing books with him. It's special to share a fondness for a book - or even just get the chance to "read" a book through the description from your spouse. The Monthly Manly Review is Jason's contribution to Purrfectly Bookish. Along with his review, there is a linky below for other male bloggers to share their reviews - or for female bloggers who have convinced the men in their lives to write a review for their blog. [This meme started on my old blog. I am starting the numbering over again for Purrfectly Bookish. ]

Purrfectly Bookish: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
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Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: October 8th 2013 
Jason's Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher's Description

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.

Jason's Review

I have mixed feelings about reviewing later-in-series books without having reviewed prior books, but since the blogmistress demands content, content she shall have.  The Republic of Thieves is the third installment in the Gentleman Bastards series, a fantasy caper series centering around Locke Lamora and his partner-in-crime Jean, two thieves who find themselves wrapped up in not only deeply complicated criminal endeavors, but larger intrigues as well. I found the first two installments very entertaining, and was happy to get to read the third. I came away satisfied with the book, but somewhat less so than I did with the prior two installments. 

Locke and Jean find themselves drawn into running a political campaign in a city controlled by magicians called the Bondsmagi. Their plans and plots are complicated by Locke and Jean’s difficult history with the Bondsmagi, but also by the presence of Sabetha, a former Bastard and love interest of Locke’s. 

This plot is intertwined with a flashback story involving the full Gentleman Bastard crew when they were much younger, and traveled to be part of a theater troupe that performed the play which gives this book its title. This play is within a smaller play within the larger narrative play, a feat that Scott Lynch technically pulls off very well. Both storylines were well-paced with one another, and even though we know the general outcome of the flashback storyline (as it relates to Locke and Sabetha), the “how they get there” is fresh enough to maintain interest. 

In fact, the resolution to the main story lines (the election rigging caper and the story of the two crossed loves) was also well done, and in the end satisfying (if not entirely happy). I enjoyed the book well enough to recommend it, as long as you have read and enjoyed the prior two books. The investment we make in characters over several stories really carries this book, and as such I can’t recommend it as a standalone story, but the series is fun as a fantasy novel in which magic exists, but isn’t utilized by our main characters. In this way, this series is more crime caper than fantasy novel, and that is where I think the author’s strengths lie. 

I was left a bit cold by the inclusion of the final epilogue to the story. I found it a bit unneeded to finish the tale that was really being told, and it seems to me the only purpose for it was to set up the next chapter in the series (which I am yet to read). As a novel-length story, a cliffhanger for the next book feels a bit cheap and unneeded. 

All that being said, I am looking forward to reading the fourth installment in the series, so this fault I call out isn’t fatal to my enjoyment of Locke and Jean and their adventures together.

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