The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series, set soon after Red Seas Under Red Skies (reviewed here), and unlike the previous books this one didn’t have a slow build-up but hooked me from the start. Locke has been poisoned by his previous employer and is dying, but he’s offered a cure from the most unlikley source, the mother of the Bondsmage he defeated in the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, (reviewed here) in exchange for rigging an election.

Locke’s old flame, Sebetha, finally makes her appearence, and it was so fun to see her working for the opposition in the election campaign. I really love Lynch’s female characters from the spymaster in The Lies of Locke Lamora to the pirates Ezri and Captain Drakasha in Red Seas Under Red Skies, and Sebetha is no exception. Locke’s love interest absolutely refuses to be defined as such, as she’s very much his equal and rival, often outwitting him in politics and reducing him to a lovesick fool.

The plot switches between two timelines, the election campaign in the present, and the other following the Gentleman Bastards as youths performing a play over a summer as they hone their thieving, fighting and con-artist skills. It’s a clever contrast with the Gentleman Bastards learning to work together (and falling in love) in one timeline, but being forced to work against each other despite their personal feelings in the other.

I love fantasy heists and the thing that always keeps me interested is how the characters have to improvise when their carefully laid plans fall apart, they’re betrayed and outmanoeuvred by their rivals and enemies, and this kept me guessing right to the end about which side would win the election and whether Locke and Sebetha would finally get together. Despite being over 700 pages long, I found this a really quick and absorbing read, full of humour, romance and clever twists. Have a lovely week. X

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Blogging has fallen by the wayside lately as other aspects of life demanded all my time and attention, but I’m easing myself back in with a review that’s been sitting in my drafts folder since December. I loved the first book in the Gentleman Bastards series, The Lies of Locke Lamora (reviewed here), but I probably left it a little too long before picking up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, as my memory was a bit fuzzy about some of the characters and events that it references from the first book.

Red Seas Under Red Skies takes place a couple of years after The Lies of Locke Lamora, and the story jumps back and forward describing how Locke and his best friend Jean, left their homeland and began setting up their latest elaborate heist. What makes heists so much fun to read is how the characters have to improvise when their carefully laid plans invariably go awry; Locke and Jean have barely set their own plans in motion when they’re press-ganged into another scheme by a naval commander who recruits them to incite pirates into attacking the coast that his navy protects in order to secure his own power and influence.

Much like The Lies of Locke Lamora, this has a long set-up and the story didn’t really grip me until about 300 pages in (roughly halfway) but after that I was hooked and it kept me guessing until the last page, though the ending wasn’t quite as clever or satisfying as the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Locke and Jean’s friendship is at the core of the story, their banter is laugh out loud funny and their loyalty to one another is genuinely touching, yet Red Seas Under Red Skies is not lacking in romance as Jean falls head over heels in love with the dashing, diminutive and utterly delightful pirate, Ezri Delmastro.

Despite a slow start, Red Seas Under Red Skies is a swashbuckler full of humour, friendship, romance and pirates which ended on a cliffhanger that had me almost immediately reaching for the third book in the series. Take care, and have a lovely week. X