Thanks to the Amazon Vine program, I received an ARC copy of Scott Lynch’s third entry in the Gentlemen Bastards series The Republic of Thieves.
So, I’m participating in the Read-Along for the novel, but I’m a couple of weeks behind. This is my first post to try and catch-up a bit. It covers week one and two of the read-along.
1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Carlo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?
Chains and the stories about Locke growing up were one of my favorite parts from The Lies of Locke Lamorra, so a chance to visit with these characters again was a welcome, but bitter sweet treat. Early on, I think I tried too hard to see if Lynch was dropping any foreshadowing hints about the fates of various characters, but I eventually decided to just enjoy the flashback and to see what kind of treats are being set up for this book.
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?
After two books of hints, it was interesting to finally have Sabetha enter the novel. She’s such a significant figure in Locke’s life that I was a bit worried that the anticipation of her debut would overwhelm the character when and if she finally appeared. I like that Lynch is willing to pull the wool over our eyes about her early on (I will admit I didn’t make the connection of Beth equalling Sabetha until Lynch told us). I also like that we’re seeing the usually calm, self-assured, planning out twenty moves in advance Locke is completely flummoxed by Sabetha. Watching him try to just be near her to catch a glimpse of her is a nice touch as is the way Locke tries to apply the way his mind works to her thoughts and motives.
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?
I’m reminded of a line of Babylon Five, “It’s easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?” I took the pep talk as a bit of “let’s find a way out of this situation and then start thinking of the consequences of it.”
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?
I think it’s Locke’s attempt to assert some control in the situation — what little control he has left. He can’t stop the bleeding and he’s clearly in a great deal of pain. Also, I think we’re seeing that while Locke may be physically hurting, mentally he’s still sharp enough to know that the Bondsmage aren’t going to do something for him out of the kindness of their hearts. And like Locke, I’d want to know why Patience is willing to save me if I’d burned her as much as Locke and Jean have.
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?
I think Patience not only knows about the plot, but is counting on it. She’s planning to use Locke and Jean for their skills in this area and the plot to take them out can help get one final double cross on them once the job is done. And I don’t think her name is a coincidence. I have a feeling she is willing to be patient to get her revenge on Locke and Jean.
1) Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?
It almost sounds like a case of the cure is worse than the disease. OK, so maybe not really but it sounds like a very painful process. One aspect I found interesting was that Jean could observe but he couldn’t leave the room if he felt queasy about what was going on with Locke. In the short term, I think Locke will be recovering from the procedure. Long term, it could take him some time to build back up his stamina and fully recovery physically. Mentally, I can’t help but wonder if going through this will make him more ruthless in the long run.
2) Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?
I’ll admit that once again Lynch pulled me with the test. At first, I thought the real point of the test was to make Locke confront his feelings for Sabetha and see how they can be a strength and a weakness. Certainly, it’s no secret but I get the impression that Locke thought he was hiding it well (as most of us felt like we were hiding our feelings from our first crush and those around us). Chains certainly doesn’t want a distraction like this getting in the way of the crew’s attempts to make money, so I wondered if part of the motive here was to force Locke to either take action or get over his feelings. As for the final oath, I think both parties need to take it. As we find out later, Sabetha also likes Locke, but Locke is clueless.
3) Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?
I don’t think Lynch would include this unless it’s going to pay off later in the book. On the one hand, it’s world-building, but on the other hand world-building needs a purpose (unless it’s Tolkien and you describe every leaf on every tree just because you can).
4) Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?
For some reason, I found myself reminded of The Brady Bunch in the later seasons when the family would face an issue and put on a show or on act to resolve it. I’m sure Lynch didn’t intend for this to happen, but that’s just the way my crazy mind works. I think part of the reason for this challenge is to build up the G.B.’s skills a showmen. We’ve seen throughout the novels that part of each scam or caper is selling yourself in the role. What better way to learn that then by acting and committing to the character you are playing. It should be interesting to see how the crowds react to the performances.
5) The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?
I’m going to speculate that Nikroros could be a weakness that Locke exploits into a strength.
And it wouldn’t be any fun if the chips weren’t stacked against our heroes just a little bit.
6) Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathize with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?
I can see both sides in the story. And I think going forward it will make the story and the interplay between these two a lot more interesting.