Gollancz, h/b, 608pp, Â£14.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins
Lashain, the great city where anything is for sale, even nobility and knighthoods. Lock and Jean pretended to be Lashani during at least one of their schemes. Now they are there for real and Jean is rubbing shoulders with every one of the dark characters, pompous nobles and alchemists he can find. Why? Because Locke Lamora is dying.
The poison administered to him during his last adventure, which sent that cunning scheme spiralling sideways and beyond, has finally revealed itself. Once again it is Jeanâ€™s turn to bear the burdens of their situation and see if he can once again release the Thorn of Camorr from the clutches of The Lady of the Long Silence. Unfortunately for the Gentleman Bastards, it seems they may have worn out their welcome in Lashain all too soon.
The third instalment of The Gentleman Bastard Sequence takes us right back to the beginning. Lockeâ€™s beginning, in fact, where as a young boy he is about to wreak havoc on the orphans of Camorr and the Thiefmaker. He is also about to fall in love in the hardest way, and boy will it mark his cards for a long, heady time.
In The Republic of Thieves we finally we get to meet the one who has tortured Lockeâ€™s heart throughout the previous books and watch the only female Gentleman Bastard, Sabetha Belacoros, step into the forefront in all her wily, redheaded glory, to tease, scheme, and add to Lockeâ€™s sorrow and longing a little more.
This volume fills in some of the unseen parts of Lockeâ€™s past as well as supplying some that the reader would never have envisioned. In some aspects more light is shed on our hero, and this goes a fair way to explaining why he is the way he is and why he became the man he did, but in other ways it just poses more questions and mysteries than ever before. There are several more books to come in the series and readers are in for another wait for more pieces of the puzzle to be placed.
There is a marked difference in the pace and tone of this book, which is not surprising given the time lapse between the releases as well as the time lapsed since Locke last saw Sabetha. The shift in bringing a new character into such a prominent position also makes this book different to its predecessors, although Sabethaâ€™s own point of view is kept rather minimal so the reader really only gets to know her and sees her mostly from Lockeâ€™s rose-tinted perspective.
While the overall feel of the book is different, Locke Lamora is still very much the love-scorned Locke Lamora we have loved over the years, and his scheming mind and his steadfast relationship with Jean is as full of banter, frustration and unshakeable friendship as ever before. There is a great sense of satisfaction at seeing the pair in action once again and fans will not be disappointed that the essence of this series is still very much intact.