Scott Lynch’s first two books relied on the strength of Locke and Jean’s relationship. THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES continues to feature that relationship prominently, but in the third book of the series, the newly-introduced Sabetha and her long relationships with Locke take center stage.

There’s a lot to like in these books, and I’m certain I’ll be buying the next two as soon as they’re available. The writing is crisp and the characters witty, with rapid-fire dialogue making every conversation (and every chapter) a pleasure to follow. The world is well-built, and while our protagonists have set up shop in a different city for each book, it doesn’t feel like a gimmick — the story has forced these characters to take to the road, giving us an opportunity to see them in new settings with new secondary characters surrounding them.

I don’t know that THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES is as good as the first two — the stakes don’t seem nearly as high, and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading REPUBLIC, I distinctly recall laughing out loud at THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. It felt as though Lynch had to force obstacles between Sabetha and Locke, and I would have liked to have seen the obstacles between them be completely out of their control.

Nonetheless, REPUBLIC remains one of the best books I’ve read this year, mostly because Lynch’s characters are so well-drawn and his dialogue crackles like no other author working today.

A few thoughts:

  • It was fun to see Calo and Galdo alive again via flashbacks.
  • Throughout the books, we got references to Father Chains’ eventual death, and I’ll admit, I’ve taken the bait and I’m curious under what circumstances the Gentlemen Bastards’ father figure died.
  • The Locke-Sabetha relationship has strong parallels with the relationship between Kvothe and Denna in Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Kingkiller Chronicles.” Both feature clever men who occasionally look foolish chasing after women who seem to spend a lot of time placing obstacles between them and their suitor.
  • The five-year games plot would have been more interesting if there had been actual consequences to losing for either side. Yes, it was amusing to watch Sabetha match wits with Locke, but it never felt as though there were any real stakes other than professional pride.

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