The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch See more reviews at http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com

4.5 stars. Incredible. My sincere thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Republic of Thieves in exchange for an honest review. To cut to the chase, this highly anticipated third book of the Gentleman Bastard series was absolutely worth the wait!

The book picks up immediately after the events of Red Seas Under Red Skies, so bear in mind that this review may contain minor spoilers for the previous novels in this series. Last we saw Locke Lamora, he had been fatally poisoned, leaving his loyal friend Jean Tannen desperately trying to find a cure. Their salvation finally comes in the form of a sorcerer called Patience, who offers to save Locke -- but for a price.

With political elections looming in the Bondsmagi city of Karthain, factions are looking for pawns to help sway votes in their favor. Patience purges the poison from Locke in exchange for his services to help her side, but then reveals the identity of his counterpart working for their political opponents. It is none other than Sabetha, a woman from Locke's past. She is his greatest rival -- but also his greatest love.

Wherein I saw the second book as a deeper examination and study into the relationship between Locke and Jean, this third book is all SABETHA SABETHA SABETHA. And about time too! For the last two books, Scott Lynch has teased us with mention and scant details of this mysterious femme fatale in Locke's life, but she has never made a true appearance until now. For a long time, Sabetha was just a name, and it's incredible how so much anticipation has been built up around her. I for one was very excited at the prospect of finally getting to know more about her character, and I was not disappointed.

Alternating in between chapters about Locke and Sabetha's entanglement with the Bondsmagi in the present is also a separate plot line about the Gentleman Bastards gang in the past. This half of the story focuses on Locke, Jean, Sabetha and the twins Calo and Galdo when they were thieves-in-training, and their guardian Chains sends them off to join a theater troupe to learn the skills of the trade. In truth, I actually preferred this story line a lot more than the other involving the political election. I'm not surprised at how I devoured these chapters; my favorite parts of the first book The Lies of Locke Lamora involved the glimpses we got into Locke's childhood, after all.

And so, it was just as great to be able to return to Locke's past again in The Republic of Thieves. The Gentleman Bastards taking on acting roles in a play made for an ingenious idea, and as the central theme it provided plenty of humor and entertainment. Fun as it was, these flashback chapters were also bittersweet given how it features several old faces that we know aren't around anymore. But it was also worth it to gain more insight into Locke's character as well as a deeper understanding into his complicated relationship with Sabetha. We're there from the moment they meet to the moment they become lovers, and as dysfunctional as that journey is, Scott Lynch still had a way of making it feel very sweet and intimate.

As a whole, I also feel that the series has matured along the way. To me, this third book came across as a little more serious, though that might have to do with the slow start. Winding down from the adventures on the high seas in book two, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up and explain before the story could really get moving, which made getting through the first half of this book a little tedious. Admittedly, the beginning of the book does drag a bit. But the good news is, once you get over that hump, the rewards are well worth it. Both story lines (past and present) pick up and the book takes off like a runaway train. After this point, you will not be able to put it down.

Bottom line: If you're like me and enjoyed the first two books as much as I did, then picking up this third book is a no-brainer. You'll learn more about Locke's past, and some major things also happen at the end which involve his identity and might shake things up for future installments. And if you haven't been acquainted with the Gentleman Bastards yet, I highly recommend these books, starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora. Probably one of my favorite fantasy series out there right now.