“Republic of Thieves” is the long-anticipated third book in the Gentlemen Bastards sequence, preceded by “The Lies of Locke Lamora” and “Red Seas under Red Skies”. The latter of these was published in 2007 so it has been six years between volumes. I was lucky to receive an Advance Reader Copy of “Republic of Thieves” from Netgalley.com and I will do my best to review it here without any spoilers.
How does the third book in the series compare to its predecessors, and is it accessible to people who read the previous book six years ago?
Yes, yes it is. “Republic” kicks off essentially immediately after the end of the previous book but Lynch does a good job of reminding the reader about key details so that the story is easy to follow without containing large chunks of regurgitated plot synopsis. Someone reading this book without having read the previous two might find some elements very confusing but enough details are there for them to follow the essential plot. I think without the investment in the characters gained from the previous two novels they would not get the full effect, however.
As with the previous two books “Republic” tells two stories in parallel; one detailing Locke and Jean’s current adventures and the other a series of stories from the past culminating in a long story about an adventure the Gentlemen Bastards have in a foreign city during their training. As before the past strand is essential to the main plot of the book as it both breathes life into some of the major characters featured in the present strand and also has relevance to the unfolding revelations at hand.
I think this might just be my favourite book so far in the Gentlemen Bastards sequence, though that might just be due to the thrill of returning to this world and these characters after so long away. It could also be because plot threads that dangled throughout the previous two books begin to be tied up here in a most satisfying way.
As usual Lynch demonstrates excellent world-building skills, sketching out places and customs without pages of exposition which then fill with details over the course of the story. He also manages to hint at the direction of the next novel (“The Thorn of Emberlain”) in such a way as to stir anticipation and sets up a truly memorable antagonist to look forward to.
I thoroughly recommend “Republic of Thieves” and indeed the trilogy as a whole so far. This is shaping up to be one of the most enjoyable fantasy series in a long while, and ranks equal in enjoyment for me with Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Kingkiller Chronicles”.