The Republic of Thieves read-along part 5

The Republic of Thieves

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.

In Espara…

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.

In Karthain…

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?!

See what the rest of the Lynch Mob had to say
Tethyan Books
Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn’s Books
Genki na Hito
Little Red Reveiwer
Dab of Darkness
Theft and Sorcery
Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers
Joma’s Fantasy Books
All I am – a redhead

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24 thoughts on “The Republic of Thieves read-along part 5

  1. Pingback: Republic of Thieves Read-Along Week Five | Genkinahito's Blog

  2. 1. The play was more interesting than entertaining. I figure getting a bit of insight into the old civilisation will play into future stories. Of course the most fun was had watching the GB’s develop because of the play!
    2. I always felt that the Espara crowd were too easily fooled. Somebody would have wanted a face-to-face conversation with Boulidazi at some point! As much of an ass as he turned out to be I got the impression he was ruthless and efficient and an organiser. With that type of boss you would expect to have personal tie with him.
    3. I think it was a case of sacrificing the politics and transitioning into a larger storyline fleshing out the Bondsmagi and the GB’s and setting up the Eldren a little. We were only going to be in this city for one book and the populace were basically puppets of the Bondsmagi who are the real power and leave at the end. I would have liked to have seen the results of the flight – the power struggles and panic over how to defend the city but that’s probably for later novels. Perhaps Lovaris becomes president?

    6. Locke doesn’t seem powerful enough to tussle with the Falconer. Either he taps into hidden powers or hooks up with a powerful Bondsmage.

    • 2. That’s true; it doesn’t make sense for Boulidazi not to show his face, and to be sloppy about collecting money or coming to greet Ezrintaim. GB’s story was thin.

      3. To me, the election looked more like a plot device to move the characters around and set them up for the next book. We don’t need to know about Karthain, but Lynch typically includes loads of worldbuilding that isn’t necessary but adds depth and interest.
      I don’t think the results of that election matter at all now though, hahaha. That city is fucked. I’d actually rather not have to read about that mess…

      6. As he is Locke has some small chance of conning him somehow, but I’m pretty sure his potential Bondsmage history is going to come into play.

      • 6. The Falconer is a grade-A nutter. No amount of negotiating will help Locke with someone as demented as that!

        3. I’d like to revisit the city and see how the politics have changed. The world is violent and the chance to have somewhere as wealthy as Karthain in your empire would be too good a chance to pass up.

        • With a war coming there may be reason to revisit Karthain. Shame, a defenceless city full of nobles who’ve just had their puppet strings cut and probably don’t know how to run their own city… I would not want to be there.

  3. 1. Nice thoughts on the parallels with Lies and with Patience. I hadn’t considered it from that perspective. It would have been great if their acting lessons could have been incorporated more in the election.

    2. Yeah, their plot was incredibly thin in some places… I think they got through the roughest spots with sheer confidence and luck. If anyone had poked a little too far in (checking with the physikers, insisting on seeing Boulidazi, etc.) the game would definitely have been up.

    3. Your comments last week were one of the reasons I wanted this to be a main discussion question, now that the election is over. You make a good point about the inclusion of politics in previous novels– I didn’t find these details boring at all, either. It kind of seems like the election was just an excuse to get Sabetha, Jean and Locke in Karthain in time for the Bondsmagi civil war. It just seems like there’s a lot more that could have been done to make it more interesting in its own right.

    5. I mostly believed the Lamor Acanthus story, too, but now I’m not so sure! I hope this gets addressed in the next novel in some way. Lamor Acanthus was mentioned in one of the Intersect conversations, so I at least think he was probably a person that existed (not just made up by Patience). Who knows, maybe Locke’s actually Lamor Acanthus’s son…

    6. The Falconer does seem extremely powerful, going from catatonic to what he did to Patience in such a short time. I hope this doesn’t turn into a “Chosen One” story, as you describe.

    I am definitely planning to continue with the series! There are way too many things I still want to learn about these characters and this world :).

    • 1. Thanks! That question threw me. I was like, what parallels? And sat for a while trying to come up with a few.

      2. It’s a good thing the GBs are going back to the city right away. Honestly, I’d be a bit concerned about the Esparans getting left behind, because they’ll be in a hell of a lot of trouble if that story starts coming apart at the seams, which it easily could.

      3. Yep, the election is largely a plot device to move the characters around. A wee bit sloppy, in my opinion.

      5. Lamor Acanthus definitely existed. There’s also a brief mention of how much Patience misses him. I actually wondered if they were lovers and maybe Lamor was the Falconer’s father? And if Lamor is Locke then… But no, that’s too weird right?

      • Hm, that is an interesting idea about Patience and Lamor! I hope we learn more about this whole situation in the future books. Maybe some of the surviving Bondsmagi can tell Locke more about him and what his relationship was to Patience?

  4. 1. excellent point with the parallel to the first book. My mind was a blank with this question. I just couldn’t think of any parallels.
    2.Moncraine’s treachery was quite timely really. It made their story seem stronger than it was. I kept thinking that they were going to be bubbled but I suppose that’s the beauty of inside knowledge. Nobody else was looking for flaws and so they basically saw things that they expected to see. It’s really quite beautifully simplistic.
    3. The whole thing with the election was sort of puzzling. The only thing I could think was it was all misdirection. Everything seemingly going on as normal yet all the while one half of the Magi plotting the downfall of the other half. Plus, it’s a little bit like Patience was conning the conners! If you see what I mean, because she really didn’t give a fig who won at the end of the day.
    4. The Magi are so extreme aren’t they. I couldn’t believe that they wiped out so many of their own kind just like that. No second thoughts. No doubts. Just boom. Dead.
    5. I never totally bought into what Patience told Locke – I just can’t decide whether she’s playing with him or not. Again, with this latest prophecy – it leaves so much open. It’s a good plan to make a note and see how it develops.
    6. Ooh, I never thought about the chosen one side of things – The Falconer is going to be difficult to beat for sure. Locke and Jean struggled in the first place so god knows!
    I couldn’t stop reading now. I love that all the books have been so different and by the sounds of it the next one will be no exception. I want to see how Lynch manages to finally bring it all together in the last book.
    Lynn 😀

    • 1. I was like “parallels?!” And felt extremely stupid because I hadn’t noticed any, so I tried to come up with a few. I thought everyone would have all this brilliant stuff that I’d missed completely. I feel a lot better now 🙂

      3. The election was all misdirection as far as Patience was concerned. She really did seem like the only real con artist at work there! ITO the book, the election was mostly a plot device.

      4. I like extreme 🙂 Before I read the first book I’d heard a lot about how extreme it could be, so I totally expected the Grey King to succeed in gentling the nobles with Wraithsmoke. And then Locke saved them and I was disappointed…

      Gods, I can’t even imagine what could possibly happen in the last book! No who, where, what, how or why. I just assume Locke will be in it, and hopefully Jean too.

  5. 1. Ooh, totally wish fulfilment for Sabetha to be leader of the thieves. poor lady, she’s realized she’ll never be the leader of the GB’s or a Capa anyone. On stage is the closest she’ll get. 😦 I LOVE all the parallels and symmetry – between the Epsara line and the Karthain line, between the play and the Karthain line. LOVE IT.

    2. I’d forgotten about that line from Gloriana, and laughed my head off when I got to read it again. Her neice thinks she’s just this innocent bumbling middle aged lady. nope!

    4. and now that all the mages have left Karthain, there’s no one to stop The Falconer from playing with those pretty little lights in the Amathel. umm… that could be bad?

    5. I’m thinking if Locke ever wants a chance with Sabetha again, he’s got no choice but to investigate what Patience told him. Cuz first words out of Sabetha’s mouth are gonna be some version of “who the fuck are you”, and he’s going to need the truth.

    LOL, How do we deal with the wait between books? By just rereading the previous books over and over and over and over again. it would be funny, if I wasn’t serious.

    • 1. You know, I felt so sorry for Sabetha ito these issues earlier on, but now I’ve mostly gotten over it 🙂 Mind you, she didn’t mention it again either. We still need to see exactly what happens to make her decide to leave the GBs though.

      4. Oh yes, and it better be such a bad thing that’s really, really good to read…

      5. Ah yes, that’s a good point, he’s going to need an answer for Sabetha. Although it’s kind of troubling that she believes so strongly in what Patience tells her, and not in the man she’s know for twenty years.

      Hmm, I would like to compare some of the details and foreshadowing in the other books… At the very least I think I should re-read them before I read the fourth.

  6. Pingback: Scott Lynch: The Republic of Thieves, the final thoughts | All I am - a redhead

  7. I think you are right that the next book might focus on sth else and not the Bondsmagi. Possibly Locke finding one of the prophesied things?

    Btw, I’m scared of the Falconer now very, very much…

    • I definitely think the prophesies are going to come up at some point, probably in ways we won’t expect.

      I love how scary the Falconer is now! Although he might have to spend some time recovering too…

  8. 2. Yeah I could imagine Gloriana kicking his body quite a bit as they moved it! 😀

    3. I think the lack of detail was to show that the elections were totally unimportant next to the entertainment value of the maneuverings of both teams of pranksters, so we didn’t need to worry about them.

    4. I agree that we will probably not hear anything from the majority of the mages in the next book or two, though I suspect that The Falconer will be rather eager to catch up with Locke.

    6. Agreed – The Falconer was all kinds of awesome in the Epilogue, even if it was awesome in a totally bat shit crazy way. I seriously doubt that Mr Lynch will trot out such an over-used trope – at least, he better hadn’t!

    • 3. Even thought the elections are unnecessary, the mages consider them entertainment, and the party members have their minds controlled by the mages, I would still prefer a more serious game. Locke, Sabetha and Jean are told to play it seriously, the citizens think it’s real, and only Patience’s faction knows that this time it’s just a distraction.

      6. No, he better not! But I don’t think he will either 🙂

  9. With regards to the elections, I’m inclined to believe that the whole fizzle was entirely deliberate. Lynch never puts in anything that isn’t important somehow, and I believe it shows just how insignificant normal people are to the bondsmagi. They really don’t give a fuck, as Patience explained with her ‘why would you want to rule over animals?’ comment. They’re all so far up their own arses that it’s just not funny anymore, and it’s shown perfectly in the fact that the actual election results really don’t matter one whit.
    That and it was indeed a funky background to the Locke/Sabetha shenanigans. =)

  10. Gloriana was so practical – knowing all about hiding bodies! I liked that little twist and it had me chuckling.

    I too could have used a bit more about the politics. We already know that Lynch makes politics fun, interesting, and deadly (for some), yet we didn’t really see that here.

    I think Locke and the Falconer are going to have to square off sooner or later. The Falconer is one for grudges. And we have some foreshadowing (perhaps) on two fronts: 1) Sabetha in a deadly situation and only Locke can save or kill her; and 2) Jean is always there to save Locke. So sooner or later, I fear we may see Locke faced with a difficult choice concerning Sabetha, and without Jean to save his ass.

    While I didn’t find this book to be the best in the series, it certainly was entertaining and I will be looking forward to Book 4. And you ask how people deal with reading series – well, I usually have several going at a time so I can bounce among them while waiting for the next to be out.

    • “And we have some foreshadowing (perhaps) on two fronts: 1) Sabetha in a deadly situation and only Locke can save or kill her; and 2) Jean is always there to save Locke. So sooner or later, I fear we may see Locke faced with a difficult choice concerning Sabetha, and without Jean to save his ass.”
      If that’s the case I hope Lynch puts more of a twist in it. Amadine kills herself rather than let others decide her fate, and I don’t want to see Sabetha’s fate hingeing on Locke’s decisions.

      This isn’t my favourite either; I think I liked Red Seas the most.
      One of the things I can do while I wait for book 4 is deal with my towering NetGalley tbr pile…

  11. 1. I really like the parallels you came up with, I couldn’t think of any, except that it may have been a bit of foreshadowing. But wish fulfilment for Sabetha, and the role Patience played makes a lot of sense. I think the link with the flashbacks in this book is a lot subtler than the flashbacks in the previous books.

    4. I am also worried about the Falconer and his obsession with the Amathel, what with all the other magi in hiding. He’s one person so will any of them even notice? But I’m pretty sure one person could do a lot of damage to the world at large!

    5/6. One of the things that occurred to me (after I’d done my answers!) with Patience’s story about Lamor Acanthus is that he seems to have been a real person, and it is also the name that Locke thought was his true name. So that would suggest that there is a connection somewhere, even if Patience’s actual story isn’t true. But I am also hoping that Locke isn’t some ‘chosen one’ either. I like that Lynch’s books have managed to avoid many of the typical fantasy tropes, and hopefully it’ll either play out differently or if it is that route he’ll do something to put a major twist on it. Several times it has been mentioned that Locke has no magical affinity (although I think that was from Patience so she could just want to keep him in the dark) but I think if they could get the Falconer’s true name somehow then.. well that would solve the problem. But I’m not sure how easy it is to speak to the dead and even if you could then Patience probably wouldn’t want to tell them it.

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

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