The Republic of Thieves read-along part 3

The Republic of ThievesOur host for part three of the RoT read-along is Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog, and I was so glad when her set of questions landed in my inbox. The scheduled reading for this part ended on such a cliffhanger, but I didn’t want to read any more until I’d written all my answers. Now, at last I am free to continue!

Oh, and here are my answers:

1. The election competition.  Sabetha isn’t wasting any time throwing pranks at Locke and Jean.  Mostly it seemed fairly harmless, or at least not overly serious, until they were kidnapped and put onto a ship and taken out to sea.  What did you make of Sabetha’s latest plan? And what did you think about the way she executed it?
Firstly, I was glad that this plan finally gives the reader the opportunity to see present-day Sabetha! I waited a long time for that. I like how impeccably stylish she is, and that she’s free to show her red hair (her argument with Locke at the end of this section of the read-along suggests how dangerous her hair colour has been for her).

Sabetha certainly surprised me with her plan. I expected her to try something, but nothing as dramatic as having Locke and Jean kidnapped, imprisoned, and sent away on a cruise! While I admire her audacity, that pissed me off. 

I fell for the seduction about as hard as Locke did; it was only when he tasted her perfume that I got suspicious. She’d had such a long talk with him, and I think that what she said about being happy to see him was sincere, so I thought that maybe she really did just want to kiss him. And all this after I said, in part one, that I didn’t think she’d just fall into his arms even if she wanted to!

On the downside, it’s such a cliche – a beautiful woman uses her charms and a man’s infatuation to deceive him? Not very imaginative Sabetha. And apparently she used the same tactic to con men in Emberlain. Is this the only option for a beautiful female thief operating alone? I took Sabetha’s side in part two of the read-along, but now I find my allegiances shifting again. Locke might have been stupid to fall for this, but it was cruel (and cliche) of her to exploit his feelings.

What does intrigue me though is that Sabetha seems to have political reasons for wanting to prevent Locke and Jean from winning. When Locke tells her about Stragos she says, “You brought the gods-damned Archon down! You silly, stupid, lucky little wretches!” This suggests to me that there are some wide-ranging political effects that she understands but Locke and the reader do not. Then, when she drugs Locke she tells him that the Tel Verrar story convinced her to go ahead with this plan, and she has to win, “for both our sakes.” Which leads me to think – what will happen if Patience’s faction wins this game?

2. During the escape overboard and Jean’s rather subtle nose dive into the water – I was curious about the lights Locke saw deep in the water when he was performing his rescue – Locke thought they looked different once he was under the waves which I suppose they would but he also had the feeling that he was being watched?  Do you think this relates back to the Eldren or some other presence? 

Locke certainly seems to think so – he has a little rant about the Eldren once he’s in the boat. It sounds like something that might be significant later, but I don’t have any theories. However, it just occurred to me that Sabetha’s little kidnapping trick may have been (at least in part) a plot device to allow Locke to have this encounter with the lights. I wonder if it’s related to that weird sea passage that Locke and Jean passed through on The Poison Orchid, the one where something in the mist called Locke by his real name.

3. Given that Locke hadn’t seen Sabetha for five years how did you think their first meeting together went (well, it wasn’t strictly speaking their first meeting of course – were you surprised that Jean and Locke hadn’t figured out that the woman pickpocket was Sabetha?) and also what did you make of Jean and Sabetha’s reaction to each other?

I wasn’t surprised that Locke and Jean didn’t recognise Sabetha. This is not the kind of game where she would put on a disguise and scam them so directly, so they weren’t expecting it. It was a nice trick too – Sabetha’s just so damn good. And, narratively speaking, it’s better that Locke and Jean don’t realise who the old lady is at first.

Obviously, their next meeting didn’t go well at all, given that it ended with Locke drugged, Jean beaten, and both kidnapped and in chains on a ship headed out to sea! Before Locke started licking Sabetha’s neck, however, I thought it was fine. Locke’s nervousness and Jean’s annoyance was funny. Since these scenes are parallel to the Espara plot, you can imagine that Jean’s had it up to here with lovesick Locke. But while Locke still acts like a love-struck teenager, Sabetha seems to have calmed down and isn’t as bitter as her teenaged self. There are obviously still issues between them, so a few barbed words are expected, but at least they can catch up on each other’s lives and share some of their feelings.

I thought Jean could have been a bit warmer at their meeting though. They grew up together, after all, and as Sabetha says, they’re rivals, not enemies. I find Locke’s explanation about Ezri to be a bit weak. It’s easier for me to see his attitude as pure suspicion of Sabetha’s methods. She has just as much reason to be suspicious of them, however, and she still gave Jean a friendly hug.

4. So, the gang have arrived in Espara and already the plans have gone wrong through no fault of their own! Jail for a year plus lose a hand for slapping a noble?? What do you think of the justice system in Espara and how does this bode for the gang?
Is it heartless that I didn’t even bat an eyelid at Moncraine’s sentence? The justice system comes as no surprise – think of how all the nobles in Camorr are protected by the Secret Peace. That’s not an official law, but it’s a symptom of the huge disparity between rich and poor. Lynch frequently emphasises this disparity by stating, for example, that a rich man’s outfit is worth a decade of wages for a labourer. With that sort of inequality it makes sense that the law would offer so much protection to a noble and treat the common man with injustice. As Salvard explains:

Surely you understand that those of elevated blood don’t keep laws on the books that would require them to take abuse from their inferiors.

When Locke and Sabetha speak to Boulidazi, it’s clear that his honour is considered so important – and so easily damaged – that it should be protected by imprisoning a man and chopping his hand off. The offending incident isn’t just about a disagreement between two people – it’s about a commoner daring to strike a noble, a disgrace that the law won’t tolerate.

Now Locke and Sabetha have given an even greater insult to Boulidazi’s honour by convincing him to pardon Moncraine, pay off his debts and finance his theatre company, while letting him believe that he has a chance with Sabetha. Locke should hope that Boulidazi is so embarrassed that he won’t go to the authorities. I haven’t thought much about what will happen to them, I’m just so glad I can go and find out now that I’ve answered this week’s questions!

5. The acting company are finally coming together and we’re watching the gang as they try to read, act and grab the best parts – are you all ‘happy face’ with the whole theatre scenes or, sad face!  Also, I can’t help feeling like this whole storyline is a step out of character for the gang.  Any ideas of how it will play out??
Happy face 🙂 It’s funny and entertaining. I liked the tension between the Sanzas, and the fight that breaks out when Chantel insults Sabetha, Locke insults Chantel, Bertrand tries to beat up Locke, and Jean jumps in to fight with Bertrand.

I don’t think this is out of character at all. True, it’s quite unlike other things the Bastards have done, but they have been sent on a variety of training missions. Locke spent a summer working on a farm and Sabetha worked as a scullery maid. It adds to their experiences, which, as Chains says, gives them the freedom to fit in anywhere.

Theatre is at least more ‘in character’ than manual labour. Moncraine’s acting advice is perhaps a wee bit tedious, but I like seeing the Bastards learning to play the kinds of roles that make their greatest schemes possible.

6. We are also being introduced to a number of new characters, particularly Moncraine and Boulidazi.  What are your first impressions of these two and the other new characters in the Company and any particular likes or dislikes so far?

Moncraine is one of those talented egotistical bastards who might be a terrible person most of the time, but is so fantastically skilled in one significant way that you admire him anyway. He’s not the kind of person I want to hang out with in real life, but he’s wonderful on the page.

Boulidazi has just become an antagonist, but I like him. Yes, he was going to see Moncraine imprisoned and maimed for slapping him, but he’s acting according to his culture. That doesn’t make it right, but you can also see how he would be publicly disgraced if Moncraine wash’t punished, and you can understand his anger. Nevertheless he is very reasonable, agreeing quite easily to Locke and Sabetha’s suggestions. He doesn’t hold a  grudge, and I think his offer of patronage was well-intentioned.

Dislikes? I wasn’t too keen about Chantel pitching up, because I’m not in the mood for a catfight between her and Sabetha. No serious dislikes though.

7. The rooftop scene and the apology. How did it all go so wrong?  And how will Locke get out of this latest fix with Boulidazi?
I didn’t see that coming. I’ve done a complete turnaround since part 2 of the read-along, and now I’m on #TeamLocke. Why is Sabetha giving him such a hard time? Everything seemed to be ok, but when he tries to have a serious conversation with her again she’s surly and bitchy.

I felt so proud of Locke though – he expresses himself as well as he can, and he stands up for himself when Sabetha snaps at him about the wine and not wanting to talk to him. Go Locke!

And then it all went down in flames…. I don’t know what to make of the whole red-hair thing. Since we get a lot of narrative from Locke’s POV, I think it’s fair to say that he isn’t infatuated with Sabetha because of her red hair. That certainly caught his attention and stayed with him, but he loves so many other things about her. Sabetha should have realised this; if he was obsessed with her hair, he might have asked her to wear her natural colour or something.

Locke doesn’t even seem to think her red hair is significant in any way except its beauty, which is why Sabetha’s outburst seems especially unfair. But, admittedly, this could be another thing that Locke has been insensitive about. The red-head problems that Sabetha mention seem to be serious social issues that Locke should be familiar with. If anything, it’s really weird that this has never come up before. They’ve lived together for years – did Locke never see her dyeing her hair? Never ask Sabetha or anyone else about it? I can’t believe I’m saying something like this, but I would like to know more about Sabetha’s hair.

Other stuff

“Gods, as far as Locke was concerned, watching Sabetha handle people was as good as watching any other girl in the world take off her clothes.”
That’s pretty hot Locke 🙂 I wonder how Sabetha would react if he told her that…

“We need to be within reasonable distance of a beach, and we need a rolling deck, and we need to not be tied up in the hold when our chance comes.”
Locke and Jean get their storm and for some reason the ship gets much closer to a beach than it should. How very convenient – a little help from Patience perhaps?

LOL: “Verena’s our Amadine,” said Moncraine. “There’s a certain deficiency of breasts in the company, and while yours may be larger than hers, Sylvanus, I doubt as many people would pay to see them.”

Moncraine speaking about the play: “And we’ll cut avuncular and Twitch, the comic relief thieves, for a certainty.”
Makes me think of Lynch cutting Calo and Galdo’s throats in book 1.

Blog hop through the read-along
Lynn’s Book Blog
Over the Effing Rainbow
Little Red Reviewer
Genkinahito’s Blog
All I am a Redhead
Dab of Darkness
Joma Fantasy
Theft and Sorcery
Tethyan Books


21 thoughts on “The Republic of Thieves read-along part 3

  1. Pingback: Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, readalong week 3 | Lynn's Book Blog

  2. Pingback: The Republic of Thieves: Read Along Part III | Joma's Fantasy Books

  3. I was like you. I was totally suckered in and never saw that whole kidnapping out to sea affair coming at all. Seriously, I think the only time I had a little warning bell was when they were having their moment and she was holding on to Locke tightly – but it didn’t seem in a passionate way somehow – or at least it didn’t seem to be described in that way.
    ‘On the downside, it’s such a cliche – a beautiful woman uses her charms and a man’s infatuation to deceive him? Not very imaginative Sabetha. And apparently she used the same tactic to con men in Emberlain. Is this the only option for a beautiful female thief operating alone? I took Sabetha’s side in part two of the read-along, but now I find my allegiances shifting again. Locke might have been stupid to fall for this, but it was cruel (and cliche) of her to exploit his feelings.’ I guess this is another one of those inequality type issues. Maybe Sabetha has come to the conclusion that you use all your assets – and she certainly seems to have quite a few. In one respect I quite admire that she’s no pushover, she’s always known that Locked is just a love sick poodle around her and she’s putting it to good use now as we saw. It still felt a tiny little bit like a cheat and also made me wonder if she didn’t think she could beat them head on!
    I’m so intrigued by the whole ‘eldren’ side of things. I really hope that Lynch has something up his sleeve and all will be revealed.
    Yeah, I was really surprised with Jean. He just seemed so standoffish. As you may have guessed, although I hide it quite well, I have a tiny soft spot for Jean so I was a bit wide eyed about how cold he seemed with Sabetha. Either he’s not ready for another woman to start hugging him so soon after Ezra (maybe still grieving) or perhaps he thinks that she has too much power to hurt Locke and he’s sick of seeing him beating himself up over her??
    Now I come to think of it there were children being hung in Camorr for pickpocketing at the start of this book so I don’t suppose the sentence in Espara should have been a surprise. I think what I found more surprising was Moncraine’s preference for staying in prison and losing a hand rather than taking help from Sabetha and Locke.
    I admit that I don’t like Moncraine or Bouldazi but Moncraine is definitely more likable, just for his passion for what he does and he certainly has a sense for the dramatic.
    The whole ‘red hair’ thing did seem a bit unfair on Locke. He was doing so well and I was almost shouting to the page for him to shut up whilst he was ahead. But no! Of course in typical Locke fashion he was completely oblivious, even in spite of her always disguising her true hair colour, about the way Sabetha felt about it.
    Lynn 😀

    • Sabetha’s plan certainly was the most efficient way of tricking Locke, but it’s so unkind, and just too easy. And she has twenty men beat Jean up. I’m so used all the clever plots that Lynch writes for the Bastards, that Sabetha’s methods here seemed very crude. I totally agree with her using her beauty – she’d be stupid not to. It’s not like Jean doesn’t use his size and strength. But I expected there’d be more to her than that.

      Oh, Lynch is dropping too many Eldren hints not to have something up his sleeve! I hope.

      I forgot about the kids being hung in Camorr. That’s even worse. I think Moncraine wanted to stay in prison to avoid his debtors for a year. He has no reason to believe that Locke and Sabetha can help him with that, so a year’s reprieve would look preferable to being thrown back to the dogs, who might take more than a hand from him. And maybe in a year’s time, some of those debts would be erased somehow.

      I’m a bit baffled as to how the red-hair issue could have escaped Locke so completely. I hope we learn more about this soon!

  4. “On the downside, it’s such a cliche – a beautiful woman uses her charms and a man’s infatuation to deceive him? Not very imaginative Sabetha.” – I see what you’re saying here, but on the other hand it’s the easiest plot which is most likely to work, so why look for something more complicated? Locke might refuse a drink or something to eat, but he’ll never refuse a cuddle from the woman he’s loved all his life.
    Also, in a strange way, I wonder whether this was her way of giving him at least something of what she knows he craves so badly. I’m sure she could have persuaded him to eat or drink something had she wanted to, and drug him that way, but the way she did it she gave him something he really, really wanted. Maybe I’m just making excuses for her, but to me it kind of makes sense.

    • That’s true – Sabetha’s plan is certainly very simple and it works perfectly. I guess I’m just so used to more theatrical plans, rather than the obvious ones.

      Lol, yeah she gives him what he wants and then makes him feel like a complete moron for it! He was really happy for a moment there though. And maybe she genuinely wanted to kiss him too.

  5. Pingback: Scott Lynch: The Republic of Thieves read-along #3 | All I am - a redhead

  6. Pingback: Republic of Thieves Read-Along Week Three Answers | Genkinahito's Blog

  7. 1 I wasn’t quite as taken in by Sabetha. I thought Jean handled the meeting better (that’s how I would have acted because the game is on and she’s efficient but then maybe I’m too paranoid 0_o) and I figured Locke would let his emotions get the better of him. As soon as she separated Locke and Jean I knew it was a trap. It was cruel of her to abuse his trust but not wrong, they are rivals. I really loved the outcome and didn’t see the boat trip coming.

    6 I found Moncraine tiresome and I have yet to see anything which justifies his genius. I just don’t like him to be honest. Boulidazi is going to be a serious threat. He doesn’t come across as quite an easy mark, the usual foppish dandy.

    7 I felt sorry for Locke about the whole red hair issue but now I don’t know… Do men take notice of women changing hair colours/styles? Would it be fair to say it isn’t necessarily the first thing you take note of especially if it’s routine unless you are obsessed with said woman. So Locke is obsessed and he should have found out why Sabetha changes her hair colour. Maybe he doesn’t know as much about the world as she does. It was tricky but Sabetha’s overreaction was a bit much.

    • 1. Well done! I was a complete sucker. I guess part of the reason I fell for it was that I was really hoping they’d have an honest moment with each other. They are rivals, but they haven’t seen each other for five years, Locke and Sabetha were once lovers, and this is the first intimate moment between them. I always assumed Sabetha would trick them in some way, but not as thoroughly as she did.

      6. Hmm, you’re right actually. People have said he’s a genius, but so far he’s only shown himself to be a good director. I thought Boulidazi was an easy mark, but the last scene for this section certainly changes things.

      7. Locke should definitely have picked up on the issue, even if he doesn’t ever see her colouring her hair (she might use some alchemical thing that changes it instantly). He’s known for about a decade that her hair is red, and he clings to the image of her with red hair, but he never asks her why she always dyes it? In the 8 or so years they’ve lived together he’s never thought to ask her such a simple question? I know he’s awkward around her, but they must talk occasionally, or he could ask Jean, Chains or the Sanzas about it. I agree that she overreacted, but Locke also seems to have been a bit dim about this issue.

  8. Oh, now you brought up cutting throats, I got sad again just remembering what happened in book 1.
    It was really good seeing all of them together, I quite successfully put behind me the gruesomeness of their deaths.
    As for team Locke and Sabetha, I’m on team Locke in the competition, but I’m on team Sabetha when it comes to falling in love with young Locke.
    I keep thinking there is a huge part of Sabetha we do not know and that should be relevant to the story – at least that’s how I’m reading all of their dialogues.
    I do hope we get to know a bit more of what’s hiding behind her cold and stand-offish behavior…

    • Sorry! I never felt sad about their deaths, because I figured they were going to die, so I’ve always been a bit matter-of-fact about it. The flashbacks seem so standard now, it’s almost like they’re not dead and you can expect to see them.

      I’m actually on the fence about the competition; can’t decide who I’d prefer to win. For the flashback story, I was team Sabetha, now team Locke, and I might change again. But either way I really would like to know more about Sabetha. She’s a bit inscrutable.

  9. using feminine charms to trick men? might not be super creative, but the guys fall for it every single time, so why stop using that trick?

    i don’t usually pay attention to politics in books like this, nor am i usually a fan of fiction with a big politics aspect. but WOW, I totally want to find out what is going on here! Sabetha is obviously more well travelled than the boys, she’s knows what is going on, and i want to know it too!!

    I don’t think Locke ever thought about why Sabetha dyes her hair, nor do i think he ever saw her dye it. also, he’s a bit of an idiot where she’s concerned. My original thought about why she dyed it was just to be more inconspicuous. “that alley kid who looks just like the rest of the orphans stole my purse!” is better to hear than “that easily identifiable child with completely unique hair stole my purse!”

    • Agreed – if it’s not broke don’t fix it – that’s what I always say!
      The red hair – I just figured she didn’t like getting extra attention due to it when she was a child – some kids can be a bit cruel and so I thought that was why she’d dyed it but good point – it definitely would make a lot easier to identify her. She might as well just tattoo her name to her forehead or leave a calling card every time she breaks and enters!
      Lynn 😀

    • I know, I know, the feminine charms are totally reliable, especially in this case. I’m just used to the Bastards having more elaborate schemes. But then again, Sabetha isn’t a Bastard anymore.

      Politics isn’t my forte either, but when it comes to things like Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire or this, I’m all over it!

      My first guess was also that Sabetha’s red hair was too noticeable for a thief, but I had the sense that there was something else. It felt like one of those important details that Lynch oh-so-casually drops into the story, but which turns out to be very important later. And the way no one ever spoke about it – especially Locke – was suspicious. You’re right Andrea, he’s probably never thought about why she dyes her hair, but to me that’s a bit unlikely. It’s like Sabetha being completely absent in book 1 – I can understand if Lynch is writing it like this to wield a bit of narrative magic later on, but it doesn’t quite make sense.

  10. 1. There are so many subtleties to the plots in these books that it gives me a headache sometimes. I had forgotten, or not noticed, that Sabetha hints that she is actually trying to save them all.

    3. Although she is suspicious of them, Sabetha has all the advantage at this meeting because it is on her turf – the guys would have to be amazingly bold to attempt something there.

    4. Agreed – if a commoner can strike a noble without fear then the next step is revolution and the aristocracy doesn’t want that.

    7. I didn’t see the disaster until it happened either – poor Locke! 😦

    • 1. There is quite a lot going on, but after reading books from A Song of Ice and Fire, I find this easy to handle, lol. Having read all the Gentleman Bastard books within a short time, I think I’ve also developed a feeling for which details are important and which ones are just world-building for its own sake.
      And now I’m dying to find out exactly why Sabetha has to ‘save’ them…

  11. I am so glad you brought up the possible political ramifications that Sabetha alludes to before drugging Locke stupid…stupider….and packing him off on a boat. Jean and Locke aren’t really ones for considering wide-ranging ramifications of their larger schemes, tho admittedly, they have been forced into some of those larger schemes to keep themselves whole.

    Yeah, I wasn’t surprised about the laws in Espara either. It’s a world of inequalities and the GBs have to learn to navigate their way through them, no matter what country they are in.

    “Gods, as far as Locke was concerned, watching Sabetha handle people was as good as watching any other girl in the world take off her clothes.” Exactly. You said it. If Locke said stuff like this to Sabetha, I bet their relationship would be different.

  12. “Gods, as far as Locke was concerned, watching Sabetha handle people was as good as watching any other girl in the world take off her clothes.”
    I’m with you and nrlymrtl on that one. This is the kind of stuff he needs to say to Sabetha :). I’ve always felt like compliments on things you can control (rather than genetics), are much more effective. It seems like Sabetha, with her distaste for being considered an object of desire, would feel much the same way. He was starting to go that way with the “I respect you/I admire you” speech, but then there was the red hair reference… poor Locke.

    I don’t feel too down on Sabetha doing the whole seductress thing in the Marrows, since it had been her fantasy to do that since she was a teenager. I had completely glossed over her hints that there was something deeper going on in Karthain, though. I wonder if there is something more than they know riding on this election (maybe some kind of dangerous Bondsmagi wager?).

  13. Oh, Locke… How he falls for Sabetha over and over. I’m all #TeamLocke, always have been, always will be. For now. Let’s see how this little election plays out. 🙂

    Even for the drunk he is, Moncraine does have a lot to offer them all. It’ll be interesting to see what they pick up from him in the end. I’m not loving the play scenes but I’m willing to see where it goes.

  14. Pingback: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch | Violin in a Void

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