“’You see us wrong, who see with your eyes, and hear nothing true, though straining your ears! What thieves of wonder are these poor senses…’”
How long has it been? Five years? Six years?
Unlike a large majority of the fantasy sphere, I only had to wait a year for Scott Lynch’s third installment. That doesn’t make it any less astounding, though. And that right there is probably the biggest understatement of the year.
The Republic of Thieves is by and far THE MOST anticipated book of 2013…and 2012…and 2011. You get the point. There is more hype surrounding this book than GRRM’s sixth installment or Patrick Rothfuss’s trilogy ender. Well, that’s debatable. So of course I began walking on thin ice when I was allowed the luxury to read an ARC of this breathtaking novel, and even deeper waters while writing a review that has to encapsulate my grand feelings and not spoil the thing.
Suffice to say, I’m prepared for the zombie apocalypse. And pillagers both angry at my advanced copy and review.
So, what? Am I about to incite a controversy, say that this was a disappointment?
*laughs some more*
This is by and far one of the BEST books of 2013, if not one of the best of the decade. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of books this past decade, but you understand. It’s a favorite, no doubt.
The gang is back for another game; Locke is dying, and there’s only one way out. A Bondsmagi comes to his rescue, but there’s a catch. He has to rig an election. He has to win an election that’s been lost numerous times over. But this is Locke Lamora we’re talking about.
It’s just, don’t talk to him when he’s in one of his moods. He may be one of the most exciting characters I’ve ever read, but man can he be miserable. That’s the testament to Scott Lynch’s ability to write emotion.
Oh, and did I mention the cause of his pain is his opponent? Why yes. Sabetha is finally here, and she’s the one thing standing in Locke’s way. The rivalry is what makes the story, all the twists and turns, all the fun and betrayals, is how we keep that smile on our face when people are killing each other, while moping runs rampant, while death appears imminent.
Okay, I’m babbling again.
“’No. You’ve never admitted this. You don’t stand still, Locke. I played along in Tal Verrar when we talked about retiring on our money, but that was bullshit and we both knew it. You don’t retire. You don’t even take holidays…And when you’re forced to stand still, when you don’t have a thousand things going on to keep you distracted from your own thoughts, you actually want to die. I see that now.’”
The Lies of Locke Lamora was a con. Red Seas Under Red Skies was a heist. The Republic of Thieves is a game. Remember that.
This is a story of cat and mouse, a tale about Locke and Sabetha. She’s hesitant to trust him, and he’s a blabbering idiot around her. So yes, they do make a pair.
And I feel that’s why this book is awesome. With the flashbacks giving insight to their relationship, we see the kid’s stumble; we see our grand hero make mistakes. We have not a character to root for, but a person so complex and brilliant that it pains us every time he trips, every time he messes up. And when he wins, our faces light up with joy.
This goes back to Scott Lynch writing emotion so well…and characters…and plot.
But one of my biggest issues was the world-building.
We are presented two new cities in this book: Karthain and Espara. Problem is, they didn’t have the same pop to them that Camorr and Tal Verrar had.
Camorr had the Five Towers made of Eldren glass, the market where criminals fought sharks, and a moored ship where bigger criminals partied. Tal Verrar had an abyss near the graveyard, a clockwork garden, and a grand bazaar. Karthain has a lake full of alchemy. Espara has a giant amphitheater.
The dazzle and breadth of Lynch’s world was apparent in the previous novels, but here we get a closed look at the place. We don’t jump from city to city, experiencing frightening things all around. Instead, we see the terror and beauty inside people, and that’s what makes the land come alive.
So, I’m not here to recount how the flashbacks and witty banter of the Sanza Twins made Lynch’s pacing phenomenal. I’m not here to discuss how it may be a step under Lynch’s debut, but only just. I’m definitely not here to rag on Sabetha, a true femme fatale I found was AWESOME. No, I’m here to tease you into devouring this book quick-like. Easiest way? Well, I might just tell you that the bar of Epic Fantasy has just been raised. Books 1 and 2 were character plots that gradually grew into a bigger narrative, but the ending of book 3 sets us up for something truly grand.
And what an ending.
I’ll simply say this: Lynch shattered the concept of unpredictability with a certain revelation about Locke about four-fifths of the way through. Readers will understand why I didn’t put the book down after that. And then the epilogue, the revenge and set-up for further destruction, was chilling. Lynch made my neck hurt from reading at the edge of my chair. So yes, this is an intelligent thriller, a fun character fiasco, and a downright amazing third installment.
You can buy the whole book, but remember, you’re only going to need the edges to hold onto. My wait for The Thorn of Emberlain (and hopes that it will be even better, if possible) has finally begun. That, and my book hangover.
“Not everything that’s inevitable is regrettable.”
*I was given this ARC for my honest review.*