Monday, November 25, 2013

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: Part 5

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not? This week the links to the other posts can be found at Tethyan Books.

This week we read through to the end of the book. Sob! 

1. The Republic of Thieves:  It’s the first and final performance!  What did you think of the play?  Were you entertained, or eager to get on with the rest of the story?  Also, how do you feel about how the play fits in the novel, in terms of the story and the characters who play the parts?

I thought that it had a rather Shakespearean feel to the language and structure. I particularly liked the ghosts remaining on stage to ‘oversee’ their murderers’ actions. I was surprised, but delighted, to see an acknowledgment to Anthony Sher and his book Year of the King, which talks about his portrayal of Richard III. I can see how Mr Lynch used it to make the stage work seem realistic.

It was good to get an idea of the play’s story and I enjoyed following the increasing tension as the performers tried to keep Boulidazi ‘alive’. However, I did start to feel that there was a little too much of it included in the book, especially the rehearsals. I suppose that it was fitting that Locke and Sabetha ended up as the leading players, and they certainly added some realistic snogging to their roles, but other than that I did not find too many connections.

2. The Other Performance:  Of course, the GB and company had another important performance to get through—the one that ensures none of them end up hanged!  What was your favorite part of this scheme?  Do you agree with their plan for dealing with Moncraine’s treachery?

I loved the idea to have ‘Boulidazi’ appear in stage because it was so bold. I also laughed a lot at the scenes in the bathhouse and Moncraine’s moaning, and not just at what he was saying. It was an excellent use of Boulidazi’s well known character against him. None of the hirelings batted an eyelid at such scandalous behavior because they were so used to seeing it.

I am afraid that I did agree with their scheme to place all the blame on Moncraine. The man was completely narcissistic and deserved to be paid back for betraying his company yet again. No doubt he will take the money and run, so he might be able to avoid justice, but there was no reason to make things any more comfortable for him. Also, it played on everyone’s opinion of his character and so was totally believable.

3. The Election:  It seems Lovaris was indeed the final trick, and the election is over.  Are you satisfied with how things turned out? Do you wish that the election had focused more on the political problems of Karthain, or are you satisfied with the mudslinging and pranks that went on between Locke and Sabetha?

I can see how this was the only thing that they could possibly offer to Lovaris: total control of all decisions until the next election. It was very smart and a neat way to get around the supposed democracy of Karthain.

Unfortunately, having lived in the US through the 2012 campaign, I can see many similarities to this election competition. I certainly got the impression that the Republicans had little interest in presenting a political debate of any type, relying on using their bottomless funds to spread misinformation and effectively attempt to ‘buy’ the election. They repeatedly treated the electorate as gullible idiots who would simply concentrate on the next shiny, sparkly object to float past. It was a similar lack of respect for the voters that led them to think that Sarah Palin would be a suitable counterpoint to Hilary Clinton . . . Their attempts at Voter ID legislation were just a slightly more subtle version of some of the tricks that we saw at play in Karthain. I spent many an unhappy hour ranting about why the election was not being fought over policy rather than meaningless promises and empty rhetoric.

4. The War: Do you have any speculation on what specific issues might have escalated the two Bondsmagi factions rivalry into this kind of violence?  What do you think the surviving Bondsmagi will do next, with all their gathered money and knowledge?

It seems that Patience’s led the majority, conservative faction, who hold a genuine fear of what might happen if the Bondsmagi were to use too much power and attract the big bad that destroyed the Eldren. The opposition are much bolder and less eager to settle for taking a backseat in the affairs of the world. They believe that they are more powerful than ‘normal’ humans and so should rule the world. In many ways, I see a parallel to the Jedi and Sith of the Star Wars universe.

It sounds as if they have decided to withdraw from the world and concentrate on sitting quietly in the dark with their eyes closed. I assume that they will also have their fingers and toes crossed that they can remain quiet enough to avoid the apocalypse they fear. It would make sense that they would also spend time assessing their training techniques and finding safeguards to try to minimize the rise of more psychopaths like The Falconer.

5. Patience: Given the final revelation that Patience does hate Locke for what he did to the Falconer, what do you make of her behavior towards Locke throughout the book?  Do you think her plan of vengeance is well suited to Locke?  What do you make of the Black Amaranth story now, as well as the prophecy she threw on top? 

I can see how she would be massively conflicted by who she says Locke is and by what he did to her son. Although the Falconer has become everything that she abhors in a Bondsmage, he is still her son and Locke did treat him mercilessly. I was not at all surprised that she threw them out penniless and destitute, because I had no faith that she would ever play nice with them even if they had one the election. However, our boys are resourceful so I do not have much worry about them being able to beg, borrow or steal a crust of bread or two.

To my way of thinking, the revelation of her anger towards Locke adds weight to the Black Amaranth story. Otherwise, it makes no sense that Patience would not simply kill, torture or maim Locke at the very first opportunity. The revelation of his previous identity has no doubt saved his life and so I believe that she thinks that it is true. Her prophecy suggests that Locke has a great destiny, but that seems quite reasonable to me . . . as does her prediction that he will lose it all! :D

6. The Epilogue: Speaking of vengeance, do you think the Falconer’s vengeance against his mother was merited or excessively cruel, given the circumstances?  On that note, how do you feel about the Falconer’s transformation and possible status as a continuing villain?

Sorry, but I have to say this:
“WTF? OMG! OMG! T1000! OMG! WTF? OMG! WTF? So cool! WTF? OMG! OMG! OMG! YUCK!”
I believe that this is a reliable representation of my stream of consciousness during this section of the book, although I have shortened it a little.

If we did not already have the impression of The Falconer as a psychotic madman, then we surely do now! I found it interesting to discover that his use of animals was considered something of a no-no amongst the Bondsmagi and yet his mother did not really make much of an effort to stop him doing it. Of course, this may have been because the only alternative was his death, but it does mean that I hold her partly responsible for her own downfall. Her death was unnecessarily cruel, but I think that the Falconer is not exactly the most reasonable of people, so I was not really surprised.

Obviously, I am now rather scared for the world because he is going to have a great time creating a huge amount of havoc, especially as the other Bondsmagi may not be available to keep him in check. However, his use of the dreamsteel was undoubtedly very, very cool and his new T1000-like abilities will certainly make him entertaining to read about.

7. Wrapping up:  Thus ends the third book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence.  How do you think it compares with the first two?  In the end, do you prefer the Espara storyline or the Karthain storyline, or did you like them both equally?

I always find this kind of question difficult to answer when I really, really love a writer’s works because it is so difficult to understand why I respond to them as I do. In terms of tone and writing style, I think all three are fairly evenly balanced, but I felt that this one edged ahead of the others because of its exploration of our lead male characters. Revisiting Chains and the Sanzas was also a great selling point, as was finally meeting Sabetha, but my main enjoyment came from getting a deeper understanding of both Locke and Jean. In line with this thought, I enjoyed both of the storylines and appreciated what they revealed about our boys.


  1. 1. I suppose the fact that they ended up playing the leading roles was actually quite a cool parallel to find.
    2. It made sense to have 'Bouldazi' on the stage - it just keeps him in people's minds so that when he did eventually 'turn up' dead people wouldn't say 'oh, I haven't seen him for a couple of days' which would be so suspicious. It was a cunning plan though dangerous. I thought it very fitting that they pin the blame on Moncraine - he did leave them to face the music after all so what else could he expect.
    3. Imagine being the smallest ever party (1 member only) but having so much influence. They certainly knew how to appeal to Lovaris - he'd be the most courted politician around wouldn't he.
    5. I actually wound up thinking that Patience was naffed off with Locke for not actually killing the Falconer, just sending him back, still her problem! I'm usually wrong about these things though. She certainly seems to hate Locke - perhaps he really is this other Magi, maybe he spurned her for the redhead in the picture and you know what the saying is about 'hell hath no fury!'
    A great destiny that he will lose - well, it certainly fits in with the first three books. They never end up with anything by the end of each one.
    The use of the animals put me in mind a little bit of The Assassins Apprentice - the magic users in that story are all against linking minds with animals as they think it turns the person into something more feral - perhaps that has happened with the Falconer - he's definitely NOT a friendly guy.
    Plus, now he's got rid of Patience - nobody else knows his real name! Damn. He's going to be a menace.
    7. So difficult to answer that question so I took the easy route and sat on the fence.
    Lynn :D

    1. I was going to mention Robin Hobb's Fitz in my comment here, too! But Fitz was such a sweet kid, even though he does end up an assassin. Nothing at all like the Falconer. Ah, now I'm remembering I need to finish that series, I've only read Assassin's Apprentice.

    2. Seems like I need to add The Assassin's Apprentice to my TBR list . . .

  2. 4. Hm, Jedi and Sith maybe, but both sides here seem pretty bad so far. Maybe now that they've learned so much about magic, they can focus on learning more about raising non-psychopathic children?

    5. That is an aspect I did not consider. I thought her vengeance seemed a bit weak, but maybe it was just because she was trying to find the best way to take vengeance without killing possible-Lamor-Acanthus.

    6. I was pretty freaked out by the Falconer's bird-torture-murder, too. This book has had some really disturbing bits along the way!

    1. Yeah - normal children would be a massive advantage int he future I think! :D

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't really explain why I love these books so much. There's just something in the writing and the subject matter that connects straight to my heart.

    1. I'm afraid that I am truly dreadful at analyzing why I love certain authors - all I know is that I got a big dopey grin as soon as I started to read this book. :)

  4. I also thought it was really neat that when people die in the play, they just wear the phantasm outfit and hang around, and get to greet other people as they die. Reminded me a little bit of the ghostly brothers in Gaiman's Stardust (they are the best part of the movie!). it lets the dead characters have a little more stage time, which is nice.

    the Election - can you imagine if this book had come out during an election year? I too was reminded of some sneaky American politics. Sometimes I've felt like I'm voting for jerk #1 or jerk #2, since they are just going to do what their party tells them to do. arrgg, don't even get me started on how much American politicians tick me off!

    "So cool! WTF? OMG! OMG! OMG! YUCK!”"

    LOL!!! you put "cool" and "yuck" in the same thing. I totally want him to make dreamsteel armor. and then it would be cool if someone ELSE had some power over that same dreamsteel. it's not like the bondsmagi really know the darkest secrets of that stuff, right?

    me three, (or maybe me four?) it's hard for me to put into words why I like these books so much. they let me escape my boring bland life. they make me feel not so boring. i guess it boils down to that. they are the epitome of escapism for me.

    1. Shakespeare uses ghosts in quite a few of his plays, so it reminded me a little of that, but I can see how you make the Stardust connection.

      One thing I love about Mr Lynch's writing is that his characters are very realistic, so the Falconer can be amazingly cool and unbelievably vicious at the same time.

  5. I was amused and frustrated in turns by the various information tricks used in the both the 2008 and 2012 elections. My favorite was a detailed email that listed all the reasons why one of the presidential nominees was the antichrist....and I had relatives who believed it (and up to that point, I thought they were fairly smart relatives).

    OK, back to this book. I could have used a little more on the political issues of Karthain, and how Locke, Jean, and Sabetha used or undermined those issues to get ahead in the election.

    And good point about who is left in Baondmagi-ville to keep the Mage psychopaths in check? No one! I expect for this series we will only have to worry about the Falconer, but there's nothing to stop another one or two like him from rising.

    1. Some of the things I have heard American voters saying have made me very, very worried about the IQ of some of the citizens over here . . .

      I really don't think that there were any political issues to debate - it was just a popularity vote. I thought it had a lot to say about how many people vote: through habit, deluded loyalty, persuasion by the latest snazzy message, etc.


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