Monday, November 4, 2013

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: Part 2

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week the links to the other posts can be found at Over The Effing Rainbow.

This week we read through to the end of Interlude: Bastards Abroad.

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?

I was hoping that her ‘cure’ for Locke’s poisoning would not be something very easy and simple, so I was pleasantly surprised by this scene. I was particularly pleased with the explanation about taking the poison out and letting it devour something else. There was a certain logic to that idea that I found rather compelling, even though it would be impossible in our world. Patience said that it would be very difficult and the dramatic effects on the ship’s crew were enough to persuade me that it could easily have gone horribly wrong. I would not say that I enjoyed the scene as such, but it was great to read and felt very visceral and powerful.

Locke’s vision of Bug was seriously creepy, especially the bits about his sins being engraved upon his eyes: ouch! I can see how this could return to haunt Locke, although I agree with Jean that it was most likely to be caused by his own sense of guilt about Bug’s death. However, this was one glimpse into their past that did not have the warm and comforting feel of the earlier flash backs, so I would be very happy if it remained a singular event.

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?

That is very difficult to judge, because we know so little about them both at this time. As a feminist, I feel like I should support Sabetha for the honor, but we know that Locke is already the natural leader of the group at this stage and so he makes a better choice. I would also guess that he is nearest to Chains in temperament and ability, so it is most likely that he would be Chains’ choice as successor.

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?

That was a very interesting idea and took the Bondsmagi in an unexpected direction. I am wracking my brain to think of any other book where mages live openly in society and yet try to purposely randomize and mask their use of their skills to avoid attracting the attention of some even more powerful entity. It is an idea that is refreshingly different and yet explains why the magi do not rule the world. Very neat!

I would love to know more about the Eldren and what happened to them. However, they disappeared so long ago that I doubt that we will ever learn anything about them, which is a shame.

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?

I used to teach High School aged teenagers, so I know that they can become very frustrating at times. I also remember the way that my parents would look forward to the end of the long school holidays in the summer, so I have a lot of sympathy for Chains at this time. The idea of all those raging hormones and shifting behaviors, never mind the smell of four teenage boys, is enough to make me wonder how he survived so long without cracking. It seems that they have been taking life pretty much for granted, so no wonder that Chains is feeling resentful and underappreciated. I thought his idea of creating superior thieves was a great insight into his own personality and the pride that he takes in his ‘work’. It also shows how much affection he has for his charges: he is definitely acting as their parent and wants the very best for them.

The challenge itself should not really be a huge problem for them, but forcing them to work together is an important part of their training. It seems that Chains has chosen a relatively safe way for them to gel without being in too much danger if they slip into old habits, especially the Sanzas.

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?

The habit makes Nikoros a possible liability, so I wonder if he will be replaced as their liaison. If not, he will certainly need to get through the twelve steps very quickly so that he can focus on the task at hand and not present Sabetha with an easy target for blackmail or manipulation.

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 sympathise with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

I can certainly understand why she is annoyed at being the eldest and yet finding that the youngest, runtiest and newest of the tribe has supplanted her as the natural leader. However, she has waited a very long time to talk to him about this, so I am not sure how much it is a real problem but more of an excuse to not like Locke. It could be that she is trying to find a good reason to resist his charms, but we shall have to wait and see.

Other Thoughts

My favorite moments this week:

Chains actually putting a pin in place so that he could drop it when they were all silent! :D

Also, Sabetha’s suggestion that the Sanza’s would hump trees if nobody was watching. It conjures a mental image that is hilarious! :D


  1. Hey Sue, don't know how I missed this - I did check by!!
    1. I thought this was a great scene. It certainly wasnt at all frivolous and the scene with Bug was particularly creepy but I thought Lynch did an excellent job of coming up with a cure that you could sort of believe in rather than just saying abra cadabra and 'ping' all's better.
    2. I did feel sorry for Sabetha but I thought her reasons for wanting the priesthood were wrong.
    3. I agree - would love to know more about the Eldren but not totally convinced we'll find out - like maybe Lynch is planning to leave this as one of his world's mysteries. On the other hand, I keep thinking that maybe he'll doing something really amazing with the whole Eldren idea.
    4. It was quite revealing about Chains like you said. It shows his aspirations for the gang but also his feelings. He was definitely feeling disappointed at that particular time and was doing the whole 'I've given you everything and you've thrown it back in my face' type of routine.
    The Sanzas humping a tree - very funny and don't ask me why but I keep thinking about splinters in the worst places!
    Lynn :D

  2. 1. Yeah, I casual bit of arm waving just wasn't going to do it for the poison removal, and I'm glad that we had a suitably arduous ritual.

    3. Obviously I want to know everything about this world, but I also like the mysteries that are present. It makes the world seem so much more real to have aspects of its history that nobody can explain. Sometimes I think authors forget that they don't have to actually explain everything that we encounter.

    Ouch - splintery bits would be bad . . . :D

  3. Sorry for commenting so late in the week! I get the feeling the Bug thing is not going to be a singular event, but I would hope it is, too. The take on the Bondsmagi was definitely interesting. I thought it was interesting that, even though they don't rule the 'ungifted', they still have little rituals about referring to "the Presence". I was thinking on Nikoros, that they might have to just not solve that problem. If he really is an addict, getting him off the dust could be a very messy prospect, that could hurt their election more than help. Also, I loved the pin drop. :D

  4. Sorry it took me.....nearly a week to get my ass over here. So busy.

    I also love the explanation of why the Bondsmagi do not rule the world. I also loved how Patience put it to Jean and Locke - would you declare yourself the ruler of the cattle just because you can? And really, can cattle give you everything you need to feel satisfied in life?

    I would like to think that the Sanzas are forced to bath often by the Guilded Lillies....but perhaps they bathe before their visits to them and not after? Jean seems like a nice clean lad, so I am loathe to stick him in the 'smelly teen boy' category. We already know that Locke is in that category from his nightly habits :).

    Ah yes, the Sanzas humping trees, rocks, trashbins, cattle (?), fence posts, statuary, shrubbery.....the list really is infinite.


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