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

The Republic of Thieves read-along part 4

The Republic of ThievesOur host for week four of the RoT read-along is Andrea, the Little Red Reviewer, and her week is packed with drama: shocking reveals and devastating new developments. As she mentioned in her email to participants, fans have been polarised by one thing in particular, and I can see why. I don’t think I need to give a warning at this point but I’ll do it anyway – if you haven’t read this book or any of the others, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead, mostly in the final question. Seriously, don’t even skim it.

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1. We finally know why Sabetha dyes her hair, and that’s so disturbing even the Thiefmaker under Shade’s Hill was disgusted by it. Too dark for this world? Or just right?
It was certainly the most horrific thing I’ve come across in this series. Anything that came close was an exceptional act of violence, not some sick underground social practice. Then again, as was mentioned several times last week, Camorr is a society that hangs children in public. What it does in secret would be much worse.

Edit: I just remembered that horrible holiday island near Tel Verrar where poor people were beaten, raped and murdered for the entertainment of the wealthy. The redhead thing looks a little less shocking now.

It does feel a bit too dark now that you mention it, but it does the job of explaining Sabetha’s feelings and putting some perspective on the beginning of this scene on the rooftop. I thought Locke might have been at fault for not knowing about the dangers redheads face, but I don’t expect him to know about something this twisted. Sabetha’s outburst seemed unfair, but when you consider that, for most of her life, she’s had to worry about being circumcised and then raped to death, it’s understandable.

2. The “Asino” brothers are drunken idiots, but they’re not blind. What did you think of the little rendezvous they helped arrange for Sabetha and Locke?
Thank you Sanzas! I didn’t think that they would be the ones responsible for finally getting Locke and Sabetha into the sack. Pity Calo had to interrupt them…

3. Locke managed to get everyone out of the Boulidazi mess we discussed last week… what do you think of this latest  Boulidazi complication?
Well, Boulidazi at least got what was coming to him. I thought he was likeable enough after Locke and Sabetha’s initial meeting with him, but I disliked him more and more with every appearance.

And now…! This is surely the biggest con that the young Bastards have faced, but I think it’ll be the one to solidify their loyalties to each other. That’s how I’ve always viewed the Espara plot – an experience that will turn a gang of bickering teenagers into the Gentleman Bastards we met in book one (plus Sabetha). They might not get out of it unscathed – Sabetha has already murdered a man – but they’ll be better con artists for it.  At least we no longer have to worry about Boulidazi’s overbearing interest in Sabetha. I wonder if Chains imagined they’d have to do anything this dangerous.

And back to Karthain (I’m jumping around in time here, leaving the most important bits for last)

4.Time is flying, and the election is getting closer. Desperation calls for cheap tricks. I think my favorite so far is Sabetha’s special roof guards. What’s your favorite election dirty trick so far?
I’m with you on the granny guards – that was really funny and utterly adorable at the same time. It was not long before that the younger Jean went to bed with Jenora and gallantly took the wet spot, and I was just loving how cute and sweet he was. I think Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog has her priorities straight on #TeamJean 🙂

But childish tricks don’t seem like a particularly good way to run a campaign. There’s way too much negative campaigning. This is fun for the reader – I enjoyed most of it – but it doesn’t really make sense politically. Shouldn’t they be out there giving people a reason to vote for their respective parties rather than try to discourage people from voting for the opposition? More on this after the questions.

5. There’s a mole in the Deep Roots. Was that person’s identity a surprise to you? And how did you like Locke’s method of identifying the person?
No surprise. We knew early on that Nikoros’s addiction posed a problem. Then in that scene where Nikoros gets caught buying drugs at the alchemist’s, it was fairly obvious that Sabetha wanted to use him to sabotage Locke and Jean somehow. Because the woman in that scene was simply described as a redhead and not specifically identified as Sabetha, I did wonder if it was someone else and Lynch was trying to trick us, but (for now at least) it seems the simplest conclusion was the correct one.

Locke’s method was the first thing I thought of because Tyrion did the exact same thing in Game of Thrones (the TV series; he might have done it in the second book too, but I can’t recall). Locke was in a very similar situation and it just seemed like the most efficient course of action.

6. What’s so important about this Lovaris fellow? The election is right around the corner, so why introduce someone new so late in the game?
I might be missing something here because I have no idea; mostly it seemed like a means of informing Locke that they had a mole. It also shows that Locke really doesn’t understand how Karthain works. You can’t simply throw money at people all the time. Lovaris does seem to be very important politically even though he’s not an overtly political person, but I don’t understand how. I didn’t assume he’d have any significance later, but we’ll see.

7. It’s so nice that Locke and Sabetha can finally have some nice, normal dinner dates. He even cooks her dinner! But that sneaky Patience, always interrupting everything! Finally, she promises some answers. that’s nice. what, Locke is WHO? Locke is a WHAT? How much of it do you believe?
Well, he doesn’t actually get to cook her dinner… I was so pissed off with Patience pitching up to ruin the moment! Does Sabatha really need to know right at that moment that Locke is a reincarnated Bondsmage? Is she going to risk getting a magical STD from him? Seriously Patience, I don’t buy your reasons for stepping in at that moment. Enough of the cockblocking Lynch! (funny how I’m blaming the author for this, but he could have let poor Locke get laid, especially since he’s written so that Locke hasn’t had sex for five years).

Now that I’ve got that rant out of my system, back to Locke as a reincarnated super-Bondsmage. I’ll admit I’m rather chuffed with myself for picking up on the Seamstress connection while not assuming that Patience is Locke’s mother (I was a bit worried that she would be, that’s just too much). I couldn’t guess at this particular story though. I like the idea of a Bondsmage accidentally creating a plague by trying to bring the dead back to life, and getting reincarnated without his memories or powers in the process. I can understand why this polarised fans though – this could take the series in a totally different direction now. However, Lynch has warned of such drastic developments. I’m on the fence and willing to see where he goes with it as long as he keeps telling good stories.

In existential terms Locke has no powers, and no memory of his past life. He’s a different person, so how important is it that he was once a Bondsmage? Except that it’s personally shocking since he kind of hates the Bondsmages. The only hint about a potentially sinister nature comes from Sabetha musing about his two different selves (the devil-may-care Locke, and the Locke that clings to rules), and the possibility of a third. But lots of people wear different faces in daily life; it’s not remarkable or creepy.

Locke’s history seems more important to me in terms of what the Bondsmages want from him. Patience speaks of “a chance to redeem yourself for a terrible crime” which might involve doing something according to her benefit or plans. And then of course the conspirators want to learn how he reincarnated himself.

I believed Patience’s story, and if anything I thought she might be omitting important information  rather than lying about something. However, the Bondsmages are so mysterious with so many hidden agendas, so who knows? There is one odd detail in the story: why is Locke’s impression of his mother an impression of Patience and not his real mother or his wife? Exactly what kind of relationship did she have with his earlier self? Were they lovers rather than just friends? Could Patience be jealous of Sabetha? Does Patience want Locke to become his previous self?

The Election
There’s one big issue I wanted to tackle, and that’s the election. As I mentioned in question 4, there’s way too much negative campaigning, and although it’s amusing it’s not plausible or sensible. Locke and Jean’s other election strategies mostly seem to involve paying people to vote for them in some way – bribes, paying off debts, favours, etc. The only thing that I remember them doing to boost the party’s overall image was making public sacrifices to the gods. No speeches or events, or at least none that get as much page time as throwing snakes down a chimney. Sabetha seems to be riding on the existing popularity of the Black Iris; I don’t know of anything she’s done except sabotage Locke and Jean.

And then there was the matter of the refugees. A very simple plan – giving rich refugees luxury accommodation in exchange for their votes. I can’t imagine the refugees are impressed by such openly self-serving aid, but I guess they’re desperate. However, no one even thinks about how Karthain’s citizens might feel about an influx of refugees into their city. And although they’re all wealthy, and Karthain surely has resources to spare, refugees are not typically welcomed with open arms. People worry about the effects that a large new group of vulnerable people might have on their lives and on society. What happens with all these people after the elections? Can they continue staying in their luxury accommodation? And now that the wealthy have been so readily accommodated, will the poor end up being taken in too?

No one considers the Karthani’s opinion on this or anything else. Voting is about to start and we have no idea what the voters might want from their parties, what their political interests are. We know only that some voters have been bought, and that some people might change their vote because of some embarrassing prank by the campaigners. I’m not particularly interested in politics and I don’t want a very serious political novel, but this is just silly. I know it’s not important in that the Bondsmages will keep running everything anyway, but this is still an election even if it’s a game. I’m hoping the last part will reveal more serious political schemes by either Locke or Sabetha, although at that point it’s probably going to feel tacked on.

Other

Locke vents his anger at Sabetha after making it back to Karthain: “You didn’t just trick me. You used the deepest feelings I have ever had for anyone, and you know it!”
Yes! So proud of Locke for standing up for himself. I also felt that this aspect of Sabetha’s trickery was a bit too underhanded. I expect her to deceive them every chance she gets, but to exploit Locke’s love seemed unfair. It’s a bit like using Calo and Galdo’s deaths to trick him. I was a bit annoyed when Locke later apologised for this outburst in his letter, but Sabetha at least was touched.

Sabetha’s bit of musing about how Chains tried to make the Bastards good people caught my eye:
“Have you ever thought about how badly Chains fucked us all up? […] He wanted a family, very desperately. […] I often think he wanted a family more than he wanted a gang. […] A conscience is a dead weight in our profession. […] Make no mistake, he shackled each of us with one. Even Calo and Galdo, rest their souls. For all that they did most of their thinking with their cocks and the rest with their balls, even they wound up with essentially kindly dispositions. […] [Chains] trained a gentle streak into us and let us pretend it would never cost us.”
Locke’s counterargument is that this ‘gentle streak’ is loyalty, and that loyalty in itself is a weapon. Sabetha disagrees. She’s in a weird, melancholy mood but her words have me a bit worried. Why is she concerned about loyalty as a weakness? Is she planning another betrayal? Is she scared of something? Or is she just reflecting on some of the things she’s done, like killing Boulidazi?

Calo and Galdo were lying on their sides, artfully symmetrical, in the middle of a slick black-red puddle.
Another reminder of their deaths, where their bodies were also arranged symmetrically, if I remember correctly.

Locke’s embarrassment at walking in on Jean and Jenora was hilarious 🙂

How did you feel about Locke’s letter to Sabetha? I’m glad her communicated with her, and it had the right effect, but gods it was long-winded.

See what other bloggers had to say:
Little Red Reviewer
Dab of Darkness
Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn’s Book Blog
Tethyan Books
All I am – A Redhead
Genkinahito’s Blog
Theft and Sorcery
Joma’s Fantasy Books

 

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