REVIEW: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Last Updated on August 16, 2022

Scott Lynch’s third installment in The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, The Republic of Thieves, finds Locke and Jean at the center of a longstanding political game. The forces at play provide our boys the necessity to pool their resources to win at all costs. The only problem: a significant face from the past returns, bringing with them intimate knowledge of Locke and Jean including their innermost operations.

Cover for The Republic of Thieves by Scott LynchAt the start of The Republic of Thieves, Locke and Jean are in the lowest of lows after the events in Red Seas Under Red Skies. Down on their luck and with looming, fatal consequences on their doorstep, they are approached by a mysterious Bondsmagi with an offer that can set everything back on course. Locke and Jean must use their talents to help influence the outcome of a political election the magi have a vested interest in. However, the opposing faction’s hired help to pit against them is someone both boys, especially Locke, know quite well: Sabetha Belacoros, Locke’s greatest and only love. The clash of wills, personal and professional, will force Locke and Jean to reconcile the past while remaking their future.

Similar to the previous books, The Republic of Thieves has two timelines, one in the present and one in the past, that Lynch interweaves together. The present timeline propels Locke and Jean’s story forward, starting six weeks from where Red Seas Under Red Skies ends. The past timeline provides readers with more insight and depth into the well-established elements from the first book. The connections to what came before are more directly visible and fill in some of the mystery leftover from The Lies of Locke Lamora. Lynch uses his beautiful prose to shape the significant themes of love, sacrifice, pride, and purpose throughout the narrative, specifically in terms of his characters and their arcs: “Nobody admires anyone else without qualification. If they do they’re after an image, not a person” (258).

Where The Lies of Locke Lamora grounds the reader in the story and Red Seas Under Red Skies builds upon those introductions with a nautical twist, Lynch explores a political stage as he continues to flesh out well-known story elements in The Republic of Thieves. Lynch’s quality with regard to his characters, plotting, tone, and settings is consistent across all three books. What changes will be the reader’s interest and investment throughout the tales being told. Some readers might take issue with this latest installment because the book does carry a heavier romantic subplot in comparison to the previous books. Though Lynch executes this brilliantly and realistically, it comes with some cost: the spotlight on character relationships shifts partially away from Locke and Jean to Locke and Sabetha.

As with its predecessors, The Republic of Thieves cements Lynch’s unique place under the grimdark label. Lynch’s ability to balance the dark and grim aspects of humanity with humor and charm is on full display. The book explores how messy life is and how the most important aspect in making a choice isn’t the choice itself. Rather, it’s the fallout the decision brings: “Life is far more easily destroyed than mended. Magic doesn’t change that” (158).

Read The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

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Angela Gualtieri

Angela Gualtieri is a former technical editor and project manager with a love of reading. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s traveling. You can find her at: