The Republic of Thieves continues Lynch’s “Gentlemen Bastards” series, detailing the adventures of two “gentleman thieves”, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen. Set in a detailed fantasy world which is apparently built on the ruins of a much older civilization, the series is a brilliant romp which oscillates between a heist story and bloody horror (sometimes with overlap). The first book, “The Lies of Locke Lamora” was set in the city of Camorr, and detailed Locke’s origin story and how he and his companions crossed path with the Bondsmagi, with fatal results. In “Red Seas Under Red Skies”, Locke and Jean try their hand at piracy, and now here, in the third book, the Bondsmagi force Locke and Jean to help rig an election in the city of Karthain. Turns out there are various factions within the Bondsmagi, and not quite everyone there wants to kill Locke. At least, not immediately.
Also entering full-frame into the story is Sabetha, Locke’s “lost love” from earlier times, now running a gang of her own. Some of the best portions of this book involve the one-upmanship between her and Locke, as their mutual game becomes less and less of a game and more something deadly serious.
It’s a great read, like the two previous books. It doesn’t fall into easy narrative solutions very often, and there are twists and turns aplenty. At times it’s the “Ocean’s Eleven” of the fantasy world, at other times it’s something a lot more brutal and nasty. It doesn’t pull too many punches, and that makes for a powerful story where nothing ever feels quite safe.