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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.
*I received a free ARC of The Republic of Thieves from Del Rey via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
The Republic of Thieves is the third book in the Gentleman Bastard series, but the first one I read. If I missed anything because I started with the third book, I truly didn’t notice it! The characters are so well done, and I will certainly check out the prior books in this series just to be able to learn more about this world that is set in another time, and possibly in another world as well. There are alchemists and magi, as well as normal people. Then, we also have the amazing Gentlemen Bastards, who have been raised to be professional thieves, able to take on a role to fit in most anywhere.
The worldbuilding is exquisite, and I loved learning about the distant cities of Camorr, Tal Verrar and Karthain. Jean and Locke are taken by surprise by a certain bondsmage they have met before. The Republic of Thieves really show both how close Jean and Locke are, and the distance they both will go to keep the few people they love safe. The game they play in Karthain sets them against one of their allies – Sabetha – and Locke has a hard time keeping his distance from the only woman he has ever loved.
I enjoyed how The Republic of Thieves has different parts, it starts with Locke when he was only a little child, then it’s present time, and it goes back and forth between the present and important instances in his past. The way the back-story is shared with the readers makes it very easy both to understand Locke’s reactions, and to get why he is doing things the way he is right now.
A thrilling read, The Republic of Thieves is all about subterfuge, lying and the skill it takes to overcome someone who knows them the best. Sabetha is a wonderful character to follow, too, full of contradictions, but a strong woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants and needs. I enjoyed that she was not dancing to Locke’s tune, in a way, she almost got him to dance to hers, and that was refreshing in a fantasy, where I sometimes feel the female characters are not really fleshed out as much as the male characters are.
Both the story and the plot are well done, and I enjoyed every aspect of The Republic of Thieves. The story is fast-paced in places, then extremely slow in others, and the build-up to the end was well done. The reason why I gave it four stars rather than five is that I didn’t enjoy the epilogue very much. I guess it is setting up the story for The Thorn of Emberlain, but I could have done without it. It took me away from the bastards and into someone else’s head instead, and I would have preferred to have ended the Republic of Thieves with the characters I had grown to know and love.
The third person point of view works very well in The Republic of Thieves, because it helps the readers to understand a little more about several of the characters, and for once, the omniscient narrator felt like s/he could be trusted – which is really weird in a way. I loved getting to know this land and the characters, and I look forward to reading more about this whole fantasy place in the near future. And I think what I enjoyed the most is the language used, I loved how the words were strung together, the novelty in having things explained in a different way than usual. It made the story even more entertaining to me.
Play dead. Pretend not to care. That was the way to keep a few moments of humiliation from becoming hours or days of pain; to keep bruises from becoming broken bones or worse.
Dying seemed nearly as ordinary to Locke as eating supper or making water, and he was unable to make himself feel bad that it was happening to anyone he’d barely known.
More days, more weeks passed in the hazy forever now of childhood time. Those brief moments he’d spent in Beth’s presence, actually speaking to her and being spoken to, were polished and re-polished in Locke’s memory until his very life might have begun that day.
“I did exactly what I wanted to do with it. Now, you go with me. Or I stay here to die with you.”
“There’s no reasoning with you.”
“You’re such a paragon of compromise yourself. Pig-brained gods-damned egotist.”
“This isn’t a fair contest. You have more energy for big words than I do.”
“This glass for the patron and protector, the Crooked Warden, our Father of Necessary Pretexts.”
A variety of fast, noisy, and painful things happened, none of them to Locke or Jean.