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 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

 

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

Up for Review: The Republic of Thieves

I’ve read The Lies of Locke Lamora and I just finished Red Seas Under Red Skies. I am so ready to join the Gentleman Bastards in The Republic of Thieves, where I can finally meet the Locke’s mysterious love, Sabetha.

The Republic of ThievesThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (Del Rey)

NetGalley blurb (slight spoilers for book 2):

With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

The Republic of Thieves will be published on 8 October by Del Rey in the USA and 10 October by Gollancz in the UK.

Links
The novel on Goodreads
The Gentleman Bastard series on Goodreads
Del Rey (Random House)
Gollancz (Orion)

About the Author
I was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 2, 1978. I’ve lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area my entire life.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, my first novel, was bought by Simon Spanton at Orion Books in August, 2004. Prior to that I had just about every job you usually see in this sort of author bio– dishwasher, busboy, waiter, web designer, office manager, prep cook, and freelance writer. I trained in basic firefighting at Anoka Technical College in 2005, and became a volunteer firefighter in June of that year.
In 2007 The Lies of Locke Lamora was a World Fantasy Award finalist.
In 2008 I received the Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award from the British Fantasy Society.
In 2010, I lost a marriage but gained a cat, a charming ball of ego and fuzz known as Muse (Musicus Maximus Butthead Rex I).
My partner, the lovely and critically acclaimed SF/F writer Elizabeth Bear, lives in Massachusetts. – nicked from Goodreads with slight edits.
Website
Blog
Twitter
LiveJournal
Interviews: Fantasy Faction | Mythic Scribes | Orbit

Review of Thieves at Heart by Tristan J. Tarwater

Title: Thieves at Heart
Series: The Valley of Ten Crescents #1
Author: Tristan J. Tarwater
Published: 9 March 2011
Publisher: Independent
Genre: YA, fantasy
Source: review copy from author
My Rating: 4/10

Tavera, affectionately known as Tavi, is a young half-elf with a talent for theft. She’s been working for Prisca the Tart but then gets recruited by Derk the Lurk – a career thief and a member of The Cup of Cream, an elite club of thieves. Derk takes Tavi under his wing, caring for her as a father would a daughter and teaching her to steal in the hope that she will one day earn a position in The Cup of Cream as well. In Derk’s company, Tavi grows from a scruffy, cowering little girl into a smart, feisty young woman.

And that’s all there is to it really. The plot meanders from one chapter to the next, with Derk and Tavi moving from one town to another, meeting people, stealing things, and generally just getting on with their largely unremarkable lives. Every time something potentially significant happens, it turns out to be just another average occurrence in the same way that meeting a new friend is notable but doesn’t typically change your life. The only major events are Derk recruiting Tavi, and a cliffhanger in the last chapter that sets the stage for the second book.

Despite the novel being about a talented thief being mentored by a master thief who’s a member of a prestigious club of thieves, there isn’t all that much thievery on the page. Yes, Tavi’s always nicking little things here and there, but when it comes to big heists, we just hear a tiny bit of the planning and then almost nothing about the execution. Derk, the master thief, doesn’t even show off his skills for us. All the interesting bits are left out.

I’m also not sure why the author chose to make Tavi a half-elf, or even create a fantasy world at all. Besides having one pointy ear (the other was cut) and being called a “Forester” every now and then, Tavi’s heritage has little effect on her life. Only two other elves are encountered in the novel, and they have very minor roles. Although the world as a whole is well sketched, it doesn’t differ much from the real one except for a few details. The dominant religion involves the worship of a night/moon goddess and people commonly swear by either her tits or her hems (“By Her tits” or “Oh tits” or “those hem-chewers”). Yeah… Time is measured in phases rather than weeks or months. Fortune-tellers are the real deal, but that’s as close to magic as the novel comes. I don’t even know why the series is called the Valley of Ten Crescents – my guess is that’s the name of this area of Tarwater’s fantasy world, but the phrase isn’t mentioned once. Overall, the novel seems to be fantasy just for the sake of being fantasy.

The book is really only about Tavi – sort of like a prolonged exercise in character building. And Tavi at least is a well-crafted character. With no real plot to occupy the reader’s attention, we get a close-look at who she is. At first she’s very shy, having being cowed into submission by abuse. Derk gives her confidence in her abilities and allows her to be herself, so that she soon emerges as a sharp, feisty girl with a good sense of humour – a sort of likeable street urchin. We see Tavi grow older, although the novel is never clear about exactly how old she is or how much time has passed. At one point Tavi says that she’s “prolly 13” and later it’s suddenly mentioned that she’s been with Derk for seven years.

Surprisingly for such a young character, Tavi turns out to be quite promiscuous, much to Derk’s despair. Although she often kisses – and later beds – boys to empty their pockets or get valuable information, it’s clear that she quite enjoys it as well. Admittedly, the merits of a promiscuous YA character are debatable, but I have to say that it’s nice to see a female character who can enjoy her sexuality without the narrative condemning her for it. Another thing I admire is that the author openly speaks about some of the personal issues Tavi has as a girl, like worrying about being flat-chested or getting her period for the first time. On the other hand, Tarwater doesn’t mention the possibility of getting pregnant when Tavi starts sleeping around, which I thought should have been an important consideration.

One last positive thing is that Thieves at Heart is decently written, which is always something I’m apprehensive about when it comes to indie novels. Unfortunately it’s also filled with careless mistakes and unclear sentences that should have been picked up in the editing process. But even if all the errors had been corrected, this book is still aimless and pretty boring. It’s like an extremely long introduction to a story that doesn’t get told. Presumably, all the good stuff is being reserved for later books in the series, but this one doesn’t give you much reason to keep reading. There’s a cliffhanger at the end, but sadly I imagine most people would get discouraged before they got halfway.

Buy a copy of Thieves at Heart on Amazon