The Republic of Thieves is the third book in the Gentleman Bastards series, the first two being The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas, Under Red Skies.
After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is in mourning and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins, the Bonds Magi. It is a fallout that will pit both men against Locke’s long-lost love in a political battle. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again as they’re employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds.
I do still really enjoy this series and the audiobook narration is still fantastic but The Republic of Thieves didn’t quite pull me in compared to the previous two books. It’s comprised of two main storylines, the present as Locke and Jean are coerced into running a political campaign and win an important election, and the past where Locke goes from a six year old meeting Sabetha for the first time and becoming besotted to when he and his fellow Gentleman Bastards are teenagers and have to pull off an elaborate con in the theatre. I often found the interludes and the con Locke and everyone pulled as teens more interesting than the political stuff in the present. I think it was because you finally got to see the start of Locke and Sabetha’s relationship after it being something that was hinted at for so long, and because it meant we got to see more of the Sanza twins and I didn’t realise I’d missed them so much.
Locke and Jean’s relationship is still fantastic, especially how Jean will do anything to pull Locke back from the brink of death and depression. The two of them understand one another so well and it’s interesting to see how Sabetha fits into that dynamic when they haven’t seen her for over five years. While she had a romantic past with Locke, she and Jean were still friends so with this dynamic you see a different side to Jean too.
The Republic of Thieves is still funny and clever with a lot of twists and turns, though it seems to be lacking something. Perhaps it’s because Locke and Jean are on the backfoot here and are playing catchup to Sabetha. It’s not that Locke and Jean’s plans haven’t gone their way before, but previously it’s felt like they’ve had a lot of contingency plans for different scenarios. In The Republic of Thieves Locke is so thrown by Sabetha’s presence and how the Bonds Magi are pulling their strings that he doesn’t see potential threats and issues until it’s almost too late. He’s much more reactive rather than proactive which feels odd though it is nice to see how Locke deals with stuff that’s outside his control.
The Republic of Thieves has political intrigue, farcical elements, romance, and a lot of scheming. It’s got great characters and delves into Locke’s past and reveals things that have both the reader and Locke end up doubting what they know. Like the previous books it’s a fun time and I will be carrying on with the series if/when the fourth book is ever released. I hope Lynch is doing well. 4/5.