The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – review

By on October 9, 2013

republic of thieves

Publisher’s Description: 

Having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But Locke’s body is paying the price. Poisoned by an enemy from his past, he is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi 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 Bondsmagi’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past . . . Sabetha. 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.

What I expected:  Hm, if you do not know what to expect from a Locke Lamora book by this point, you may want to go back and read the first two.  To anyone who has already read the first two – the expectations are easy: spectacular feats of cleverness and sleight of hand, lining of the pockets at others’ expense, close escapes from deadly situations, morbid humor, and much more.  Let us just say that I and most other fans expected something in the way of a sword and sorcery version of the movie Ocean’s Eleven.  In fact, in putting this review together, this was my first time reading the synopsis/blurb.  I read the book with the expectation that since I enjoyed the first two quite a bit that I would also enjoy this one.

What I got: I was not disappointed.  I will say that the book felt a bit more on the grim side than the first two, and the final scene was downright brutal.  That being said, I still enjoyed the entire thing – even the painful parts.

What I liked:  I liked the plotting and the cleverness.  Of course I liked Locke and Jean and learning about the new locale they find themselves in.  I found the nature of their latest job to be interesting, as well as finally meeting the famed Sabetha.  I really liked how she was introduced via a nearly book-long flashback interspersed within the current plotline.

What I did not:  I do not think I liked the character Sabetha above half.  She was annoying, abrasive, and I found no redeeming qualities in her other than her cleverness; however, she was not my love interest so that was not a big issue for me.  I really did find that final scene overly brutal, and I still am not quite sure what to make of it – on the one hand, it could be an advance notice of possible issues to be tackled in later books, or it could just be there to show the reader some closing points in a character’s plot arc.

Cover Talk:  I find the cover beautiful as a piece of art even though it just does not scream ‘Locke Lamora story’ to me.  The purposefully anonymous figures seem to impersonalize the cover, though that is, of course, just my own opinion.

Recommendation:  If you have already read the first two I suspect you already have plans to read this one, so you definitely do not need a recommendation from me (but you may have one if you wish!).  If you have not yet read those first two and clever thief stories set in grim backdrops with murder, humor, and mayhem around quite a few corners are the kind of thing you enjoy, then I suggest you pick up the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and read on through.

About amberdrake

April V
April V

Sabetha seemed to be too critical and self satisfying to me, but I'm picky.

Yes, that last scene was definitely brutal.


I love how different all three novels are. Sure, they are all about thieves and their adventures, but the "nitty gritty" of each story is very, very diffrent. 

You didn't like Sabetha? :(  I really liked her.  and omg, that last scene! holy cow, WOW! brutal is the word!