And so we come to the end of the read-along. Our finale is hosted by Allie from Tethyan Books. I’ve had a great time, getting into in-depth discussions with equally enthusiastic readers, although keeping up with all the comments has been a challenge! I’d hoped to leave comments on more blogs, but sadly I didn’t always have the time. Another challenge was finding the willpower to stop reading every time I came to the end of the scheduled chapters for each part. The Republic of Thieves was a fun read and without a good reason to read slowly and carefully, I would have rushed through it in two or three days.
But it was worth taking my time, and as usual that means I’ve got lots to say, so on with the Q&A.
1. The Republic of Thieves: It’s the first and final performance! What did you think of the play? Were you entertained, or eager to get on with the rest of the story? Also, how do you feel about how the play fits in the novel, in terms of the story and the characters who play the parts?
I didn’t love the play itself, but I like the Espara story as much as the Karthain one (if not more) so I was keen to see the performance. At the beginning of this venture I thought there’d be several performances (and then all the trouble started). The Sanzas had an excellent opening, and I like that Amadine kills herself rather than have her fate decided by the two men. Sabetha doesn’t seem the type for dramatic suicide, but the feminist ethic suits her very well.
I thought the play drew a parallel with Lies – a plot to infiltrate a society of thieves and take down their leader, with lots of blood spilled along the way. Sabetha’s role could be a bit of wish fulfilment for her, as she plays the leader of the thieves. The sorcerer’s role and his influence on Aurin’s life is also similar to Patience’s role in Karthain – she’s partly responsible for bringing them together, and then drives them apart again.
Aurin and Amadine’s star-crossed love and Locke and Sabetha’s real-life relationship is the only thing that I noticed carrying over from this plot into the Karthain one. It would have been great if they’d also used the theatre experience in the election game – putting on some kind of performance to win the favour of a large group of people. But, well, yeah…
2. The Other Performance: Of course, the GB and company had another important performance to get through—the one that ensures none of them end up hanged! What was your favorite part of this scheme? Do you agree with their plan for dealing with Moncraine’s treachery?
Umm, nothing really stands out for me, but I loved that bit where Gloriana gently scolds the Camorri for assuming that she’d never had to hide a body before I liked the scheme as a whole though – hiding the body among the props, Donker posing as Boulidazi and taking a bow on stage, Sabetha playing the “giggling strumpet” again while Moncraine voices Boulidazi.
However, I thought it was dangerous to tell Ezrintaim that Boulidazi’s friends had taken him to a physiker after he hurt his ankle though. If she looks into that she’ll figure out very quickly that they were lying. But they didn’t have much time to think it through. Hopefully the case will seem simple enough after they were able to make it look like Boulidazi was murdered by Moncraine, and no one will notice that Boulidazi’s face was never seen again after he went upstairs at the inn.
Moncraine’s treachery was very convenient, giving them an even better explanation for Boulidazi’s death. And yeah, I think it’s fair to lay the blame on him, since he was willing to leave them broke and doomed to hang.
3. The Election: It seems Lovaris was indeed the final trick, and the election is over. Are you satisfied with how things turned out? Do you wish that the election had focused more on the political problems of Karthain, or are you satisfied with the mudslinging and pranks that went on between Locke and Sabetha?
Last week I wrote about how dissatisfied I was with the election, and my feelings haven’t changed. There’s no clear understanding of how Locke, Sabetha or Jean influenced the election at all, except to convince Lovaris to become neutral once he was elected. Would the votes have been any different if they weren’t involved? There was a game, but we never really see how it’s played.
As I mentioned in one of my comments, Locke’s previous schemes involved assessing the behaviour, desires and expectations of a mark, and using that in elaborate or at least entertaining cons. That’s partly what made his plots so clever and interesting. We got none of that in this election. We never found out what the Karthani voters want from their politicians, and never saw Locke, Jean or Sabetha use that to their advantage. The pranks were fun, but where is the big con? I know this might sound dull, because yeah, politics bores the shit out of me too, but Lynch could have made it interesting. The series has involved plenty of light politics. The Secret Peace is political.The rise of Capa Barsavi was an underground political endeavour that led to the revenge of Capa Raza/The Grey King. The Austershalin Brandy Scheme was founded on the unstable politics of Emberlain. Half the plot of Red Seas was political, with the Archon trying to force Locke and Jean to recreate the war that put him in power.
None of that was particularly complicated, nor did I find it boring to read the very long conversations or info dumps where these schemes were explained or enacted. I’m assuming that most if not all readers who made it to book three liked it as well. Why couldn’t Lynch have done something similar here? The Karthanis are pretty comfortable, they probably don’t have complex politics anyway. There could have been just one major issue to hook them, and Sabetha and the Bastards could have played to that. Their theatre experience would have helped them address large crowds, with their pranks functioning as parts of a larger scheme. That would also have made the Espara plot more relevant.
I know none of it matters at all because it’s just part of a distraction that allows Patience’s faction to kill the opposing mages, but when considering the election game in itself, I find it pretty lame.
4. The War: Do you have any speculation on what specific issues might have escalated the two Bondsmagi factions rivalry into this kind of violence? What do you think the surviving Bondsmagi will do next, with all their gathered money and knowledge?
I assume it’s about the conflict between the Exceptionalists and the rest of the mages. Earlier in the book Locke asked why the Bondsmages, with all their power, haven’t tried conquering the world. Patience replies that most of the mages aren’t interested in that, in the same way that an ordinary person isn’t interested in ruling over a farm full of animals. But there are Exceptionalists who feel differently and the Falconer was an important figure among them. The rest of the magi presumably want to focus on whatever force did away with the Eldren, and feel that the Exceptionalists are a dangerous impediment.
I don’t really have any guesses as to what will happen next, given that I don’t even know what the threat is. However, the fact that they’re willing to kill seventy mages so they can focus on a specific threat suggests that there’s something colossal threat. The way the Falconer was so interested in those lights beneath the Amathel seemed important. Patience discouraged his curiosity so maybe it’s related?
Anyway, I think they will disappear for a while, and the plot of the next book will focus on something else while the Mage issue simmers.
5. Patience: Given the final revelation that Patience does hate Locke for what he did to the Falconer, what do you make of her behavior towards Locke throughout the book? Do you think her plan of vengeance is well suited to Locke? What do you make of the Black Amaranth story now, as well as the prophecy she threw on top?
Gods damn it, this complicates matters. I preferred it when I could just assume she was mostly telling him the truth about Lamor Acanthus. I liked that story. Now I realise she may just have been messing with him. Still, I’m not inclined to think that she was. It sounds like she really cared about Lamor, so I don’t think she would have made up a story like that just to taunt Locke.
I don’t know if it’s a great revenge for though. Locke knows who he is, and he’s got this devil-may-care attitude that will allow him to shrug it off. What’s more devastating for him is that Sabetha has left him again because Patience implied that Locke’s love for her isn’t a choice, it’s a remnant of the Bondsmage’s persona. Throughout the book she’s insisted on love being a choice, not an inevitability, so I can understand why she’s left now.
I think Patience/Lynch has also been really cruel to the reader – are we ever going to learn the truth?!
The prophecy though – I believe that. Yes, that’s how I also felt about the Lamor Acanthus story, but whatever. Plot-wise, it’s a nice setup for future books. And maybe it’s a prophecy specifically designed to con Locke. I’ll make a note and see how it turns out.
6. The Epilogue: Speaking of vengeance, do you think the Falconer’s vengeance against his mother was merited or excessively cruel, given the circumstances? On that note, how do you feel about the Falconer’s transformation and possible status as a continuing villain?
Ok, now that was an awesome ending. The previous two books ended with Locke dying and headed for unknown shores; a bit dreary. But this… I absolutely loved what he did with the dreamsteel – were those of you who were intrigued by it early in the book satisfied with this? It’s terrifying how powerful he is. After three years in a coma he crawls out of bed, un-handicaps himself, and then murders his mother with a feat he’d never matched before being mutilated. Who knows what he’ll do later?
The way he killed Patience was excessively cruel, but that’s what I’d expect from the Falconer. He’s a psychopath and he’s loathed his mother since childhood. Also, she tried to get him killed. I’d be pissed of too.
The only thing I don’t like about this is that it could be a set-up for that stupid “Chosen One” plot, where only Locke has the power to stop the Falconer, especially if there’s more to the Lamor Acanthus story. Lynch has avoided that kind of plot thus far, and I really don’t want to see the series fall into that cliche. But I trust Lynch to do something more interesting.
7. Wrapping up: Thus ends the third book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence. How do you think it compares with the first two? In the end, do you prefer the Espara storyline or the Karthain storyline, or did you like them both equally?
For me, each book has had a very different feel to it. Even though the plots are closely related, they’re quite varied, and I like that. The series is showing some major progress, but I’ve always enjoyed the characters, the stories and the writing.
However, I will say that I find the election to be a major flaw of the kind that I didn’t find in the other novels. Given that it ends up being completely irrelevant, I can understand why Lynch may not have had cause to make it more political, and I’m sure that most readers won’t be bothered by it either. But I’m still left with the sense that the game was never played properly, and the pranks look pathetic when compared with the cons we saw before.
What I enjoyed about the Karthani plot was the development of Locke and Sabetha’s relationship, the role of the Bondsmages in the world, and the future of the Mages in books to come. The election just felt like an excuse for that.
I don’t know if I enjoyed the Espara story more, but I think it’s a bit better plotted. It had so much more tension in different forms, as well as more classic cons. Also, we got to see the beginning of Locke and Sabetha’s relationship, which was great.
In her email for part 4, Andrea mentioned that the whole idea of Locke as a reincarnated Bondsmage had polarised readers. In addition, Locke and Jean might not go back to the kinds of schemes we saw in books 1 and 2, especially since the next book is set in Emberlain, in the midst of civil war. A war might be a great time for the right people to make piles of money, but things are definitely changing. So is there anyone who doesn’t want to continue with the series?
I’m a little bit apprehensive, but at the same time I’d like to read book 4. Now, if I could. *sigh* I don’t often read series; how do you deal with the wait?!
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