The Republic of Thieves read-along part 1

The Republic of ThievesSo, Andrea at the Little Red Reviewer has organised a read-along for The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. I recently read and reviewed The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies just because I got a review copy of book 3. Luckily for me I’ve really enjoyed the series so far so I’m eager to read Republic, where we FINALLY get to meet the infamous Sabetha. I’ve never participated in a read-along like this, so I’m looking forward to it.

If you’re interested in participating in the read along or just lurking, check out the reading schedule.

I spent most of October away on holiday, so I missed the start and I’m behind for part 2, but luckily the schedule is fairly relaxed and the book is very readable, so I finished all of part 1 yesterday, covering everything from the Prologue through to the end of Intersect 1. This discussion is hosted by the blog Dab of Darkness, so you can head over there and then blog hop to the other participants. Note that if you haven’t read the first two books, you’re going to encounter major spoilers all the way.

Here are the questions for part one:
1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Calo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?
2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?
3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?
4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?
5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?

And here’s what I thought:

1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Calo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?
Happy dance, but I’m probably not as overjoyed to see them as most. Before I read Lies, I saw a meme stating that Scott Lynch was more brutal in killing off his characters than J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin. I don’t think this is true regarding Martin, but it made it obvious that Calo, Galdo and Bug were going to die, so I didn’t get that attached to them. Chains dies of old age off the page, so his death didn’t have any real emotional impact. As a result, I don’t really miss any of them.

That said, they’re all wonderful characters who work wonderfully together, so I enjoyed reading about them again. At first, the return to Locke’s childhood training seemed dull, but it picked up with Sabetha around. We also see nuances of Locke’s development that aren’t shown in Lies, like when he tentatively tries to swear the way the adults in his life do (of course he becomes an expert later on). And the combination of fatherly affection, guidance and strict training Chains gives Locke and the other children makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?
Yes, AT LAST! Her absence in Lies felt very odd, and in Red Seas Jean explains that he never talks about her because Locke is so absurdly sensitive about the topic. A bit of a feeble excuse for the reader, in my opinion. Now I feel like Lynch has to try a little too hard to put Sabetha into the narrative when she should have been there all along. At the very least, Locke and Jean should have spoken to or about her regarding the massacre of the other Gentleman Bastards. Even if Locke doesn’t want to talk about her, there’s nothing stopping Jean from thinking about her in sections written from his POV. And now we learn that Locke became obsessed with Sabetha at Shades Hill but somehow this major development is never mentioned in book one? Awkward. Very awkward.

But I’m glad to finally see her, although she’s still too enigmatic for me to form an opinion. In the Shades Hill chapter I was disappointed that I didn’t get a demonstration of the skills that earned her a higher rank among the thieves. Locke is infatuated with her because of her pretty face, her implied skill, and a certain je ne sais quoi. I don’t particularly like this sort of infatuation-at-first-sight plot, especially since Locke is only 5 or 6 or 7 years old; I would have preferred it if Locke was merely intrigued and became infatuated after a taste of her personality, intelligence and skill. He comes to appreciate that later, but for now I don’t feel like I know Sabetha very well. I find her mysterious but not beguiling.

As for a romance? Well clearly those two have some issues to sort out first. And although I don’t know yet what exactly happened between them, Sabetha has a seriousness that suggests she won’t be falling into Locke’s arms, even if she wants to. My guess is she’ll approach him with caution and consideration, influenced by her role in the plot.

3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?
Absolutely wonderful. One of the things I enjoyed in Red Seas was the way Jean developed some independence as a character, openly criticising Locke and becoming more than just his sidekick. I also liked seeing Locke undermined a bit, with his flaws on display. His vulnerability brings me closer to his character, making him more human.

This scene does that again, but with even more heart, given that Locke is on the verge of death and Jean recently lost Ezri. I love seeing Jean criticise Locke for his bullshit and his arrogance, while offering an interesting interpretation of his emotional problems. No doubt Locke will have to face this issue again in the future. Jean also lays out his own feelings about Ezri and loss, so that Locke finally understands how much others have done for him, and how selfish it would be to throw his life away. He might be the star of this series, but he can be such a dick; Jean is the person I’d prefer to hang out with.

4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?
Both. I find it hard to believe that anyone with such power can be trusted (as previous powerful characters have proved) so Locke is wise to try and take some control. I don’t think his requests are unreasonable either. Demanding that Patience answer all his questions is particularly important  for him to do a good job. However, I have very little faith in Patience’s promise that they will sever all ties with him once he’s fulfilled his contract. Maybe she’s trustworthy; we’ll have to see.

I don’t know what I’d ask Patience. No doubt a crucial question will pop up later when Locke and Jean desperately need the answer.

5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?
Being in her position, she must surely know that this sort of thing is possible if not likely, at the very least. More so given the Bondsmagi’s unusual elections. Initially I would have said that Patience doesn’t know the details of this particular conspiracy, but the question made me think of alternatives – that she know but is secretly letting the conspiracy play out so she can keep an eye on it, or that she’s spearheading it herself as part of a larger plan. Mind you, I’m more interested in the conspiracy itself than Patience’s role in it.

And now on to part 2, which begins at chapter 3. Obviously Patience is going to save Locke, but how harrowing is it going to be?

In the meantime, you can do a blog hop and check out the other participants’ answers if you like:

Over The Effing Rainbow
Dab of Darkness
Lynn’s Book Blog
Tethyan Books
Just Book Reading
Genkinahito’s Blog
Book Den
Theft and Sorcery
Many A True Nerd
Joma’s Fantasy Books
All I Am – A Redhead
Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers
Rose’s Thingamajig
Books Without Any Pictures