Monday, October 28, 2013

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: Part 1

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 Dab of Darkness.

This week we read through to the end of Intersect 1.

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?

I loved this. They are such colorful characters that it is always excellent to spend time in their company learning more about them and sharing in their antics. I think most of us would agree that we would be quite happy to read several books packed with their back-stories, which are likely to be both shocking and entertaining. This is especially true for Chains, who has a long and very interesting past, no doubt. I like that we are seeing more depth to them and the dialogue is as educational and fascinating as ever. I especially loved the little detail of Chains being unhappy about Carlo singing the military song. I seem to remember that we learnt that he had been in the army at one point, but this was such a poignant and true scene that it had a very bittersweet quality to it.

I suppose that it is sad to see the young guys that we know will die horrible deaths, but I do not find myself thinking about that as I am carried along by their silliness and constant banter. Favorite bits so far: the twins and their ‘special’ way of communicating and the young Jean’s obvious fighting prowess.

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?

We know that she eventually breaks Locke’s heart, so it is interesting to see that she is fairly uninterested in him at this point. Of course, I can see how this makes his heart-rending longing all the stronger, and I imagine that will only get worse as his teenage hormones begin to manifest. I am intrigued about why she continually dyes her hair from its natural red. I can only assume that red hair is uncommon in Camorr and so is noticeable and a liability. I would also love to know what she has been learning in all her time away from the lair.

Obviously Locke is totally smitten, but I am not sure that we will ever see a true romance between these two. Sabetha could quite easily break his heart without them ever getting together at all, so I will be interested to see if that is the direction we take.

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 was quite moved by Jean’s total desperation in the lead up to this scene. His clouded thinking was shown by his unwise and careless kidnapping of the doctor. I was actually surprised that it took so long for the local thugs to arrive at their door. I know that Locke is usually the brains of the outfit, but I thought that Jean was far too professional to be so sloppy: Chains would have been sadly disappointed. But even Jean can only bend so far and it was funny to see him snap and beat Locke around the head and neck with a good, old-fashioned, tongue-lashing. It is not often that we see Locke outmaneuvered in this way, so it was great fun. The truth behind everything that Jean said added to the weight of his words and finally made Locke see some sense. However, given how ill Locke is supposed to be, I can also understand why he simply wants to die and end the suffering.

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?

It seems that the Bondsmagi are rather OCD about fulfilling their contracts, so it actually makes sense to try to negotiate some of the fine print with them. However, I do not trust Patience as far as I could spit her, so it may have been a total waste of time. We know that Locke likes to feel in control of his life, so that might have been part of his reason, though I suspect that it was more habit. He is a man who is always gambling and thinking of how to get the best end of any bargain, so he could hardly agree without making even a token effort at bargaining. It is also part of the persona that he hides behind and so is necessary to maintain that facade.

I am not convinced that they will necessarily survive their association with Patience because this is hardly likely to be a simple thing that she asking of them. Therefore, I doubt that it would make much difference what you asked her to guarantee and I would not waste my breath.

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 imagine that the Bondsmagi spend a considerable amount of time plotting against each other in secret and this is one example of that. She might be well aware of the plot and could be using the Bastards as bait, which seems like a role that they have played several times before. She reminds me quite a lot of the Spider, so I would not be surprised if she working from a position of knowledge about most of the plots against her interests.

I am quite sure that it will make the process of rigging the election all the more interesting and lively, especially as we do not know how the various sides normally ‘encourage’ people to vote for them. I expect much mayhem and double, triple and quadruple crossing.

Other thoughts

I think my only criticism so far is with the set up to test Locke’s willingness to kill Sabetha. I realized fairly early on that it was a set up, which I found disappointing because I am normally terrible at spotting what is going to happen later on. I thought the fact that Sabetha was the one to actually go in and do the theft was a huge pointer, especially as both she and Chains had gone on about Locke not taking anything extra from the stash. Perhaps this just shows that the younger Locke was not as astute as he was to become, and we certainly know that he is always very cautious now and always assumes that everyone is lying to him, so it was a lesson well learned.


  1. I agree with No.1. I was sort of thinking it was bittersweet but then when I thought back I wasn't sad when I was reading about the gang again I was just enjoying the banter.
    Jean's tongue lashing was good wasn't it. I thought he had some pretty good lines in this section to be honest.
    Locke is just so besotted isn't he. It's sort of amusing and intriguing.
    Lynn :D

    1. I am enjoying being back in Locke-world far too much to be sad about anything at the moment - it seems like I haven't been away at all . . . which means that I am going to be very impatient waiting for book 4! :D

  2. Reading how everyone enjoyed seeing the Sanza twins again, I can suddenly see the allure of reading Republic without having read the first two books in the series: there is no bittersweet. You've never lost those two characters, so you can just innocently enjoy them.

    Jean was pretty sloppy when it came to kidnapping that doctor, wasn't he? Eh, I forgive him, he was pretty desperate. you do crazy things when your best friend is about to die.

    The set-up to "kill" Sabetha was pretty obvious, but remember, Locke is a little kid, he's what, eight years old? We know what to look for, and even he sees things that are out of place, like that the shelves in the library are empty. But he's so blinded by his obsession with Sabetha that those things never click in his brain until later. that'll teach him! right?

    1. I am pretty certain that not reading the early books would be a massive disadvantage - firstly because they are damned good books to read for their own sakes, but secondly, because we can look at these characters with nostalgia and know how they would be in a few years time.

      I know what you mean about the 'kill Sabetha' mission, perhaps I was unhappy with it because I normally have no clue what is going to happen and I expect Mr Lynch to keep me surprised! :D

  3. Patience reminded me of Spider as well. :)
    I can't wait to see how it all plays out - I wonder if the guys will help Patience like they helped Spider...

    1. Am I correct in thinking that you have an image of Locke's fist and Patience's face making intimate contact?? :D

    2. Actually, I didn't, but now you mentioned it, I can see that happening. :D

  4. Maybe Jean's sloppiness shows just how much he cares about Locke. As he said, Locke is the only one left of his family. If Locke died (as it appeared he was going to), I don't think Jean would be "freed up" at all (as Locke suggested)... he might just discover he has a pretty strong death wish of his own :(.

    Also, it seems like lots of the commenters are suggesting that maybe Locke and Sabetha never have a romance, and Locke's lifelong pining is just from a ridiculously long-standing crush. I'm starting to worry this is the case--my remaining respect for the character of Locke may not survive that reveal.

    1. I think you are right about how badly Jean would have taken Locke's death. He is still in deep mourning for the love of his life, so to lose Locke at this point would be totally devastating. Jean is definitely the Sam Gamgee of this series: he has a huge heart and I love him for it.

      I'm not sure that Locke and Sabetha not ever getting together would be a massive disappointment to me, although it would make Locke seem a lot more emotional and human than I would expect.

  5. I also wonder about Sabetha repeatedly dying her hair to an unremarkable brown. As you say, perhaps red hair isn't common in Camorr, or perhaps she doesn't want a constant reminder of one dead parent or another. Perhaps she just has a mild 'allergic' reaction to the color red, as I do to the color pink :).

    Yes, the Bondsmagi seem to be OCD about fulfilling their contracts to the letter. However, as I think we learned in Book 2, a Bondsmage may decide to go above and beyond their contract, to give that extra special touch to the job. Even though Locke came up with some good caveats, I still have to hold my breath in caution as long as the Gentlemen Bastards are tied to the Bondsmagi.

    Yeah, that set up was easy for us Lynch fans to spot. But I can see how young Locke, who had learned to trust Chains, and even the other Bastards outside of pranks, was trusting that this whole theft was for real. I think he learned that friends can lie to you with the best of intentions, tricking you into doing something you wouldn't otherwise do. Tough love indeed.


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