The Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch (Book Review)

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Following on from reading The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, the Republic of Thieves is the third in the Gentleman Bastards series:

Locke and Jean barely escaped with their lives from what should have been the greatest heist of their career, in the port city of Tal Verrar. Now they head north, looking for sanctuary and an alchemist who can cure the poison that is slowly killing Locke. They find neither, but with their luck, money and hope exhausted, they receive an offer from a power that has never had their best interests at heart: The Bondsmagi of Karthain.

In exchange for the chance that Locke might be saved, the Bondsmagi expect the two Gentlemen Bastards to rig an election in their home city of Karthain. They will be opposed. The other side has already hired the services of Sabetha Belacoros, the one person in the world who might match Locke’s criminal skill, and the one person in the world who absolutely rules his heart.

Now it will be con artist against con artist in an election that couldn’t be more crooked, all for the benefit of the mysterious Bondsmagi, who have plans within plans and secrets they’re not telling…

The third book takes part in the city of Karthain, city of the Bondsmagi. Every 5 years, the Bondsmagi battle for power by backing one of the human political groups within the city, selecting an outside “adviser” to the group, and putting the city under a spell to be obedient to these advisers – a sort of game to watch too.

Locke and Jean are chosen to back one side, and their long-missing fellow Gentle(lady) Bastard, Sabetha, is chosen to back the other. As past relationships and new challenges arise incompatibly, the three must serve their masters who will accept no trickery in the elections – the one thing seemingly sacred to Bondsmagi.

We also learn more about the history of the land, past characters, and even some of Lockes origin.

Like the rest of the books in the series, this one continues with the amazing quality of writing, intriguing plot-lines, and unguessable twists caused by the genius of the main characters.

The ending of the book had me disappointed that the next has not yet been released for me to read immediately (here’s to hoping for a soon release!) With the return of old characters and clever explanations for Locke’s interest in Sabetha; the whole thing is left wide open for the fourth!

Overall the series has been a great introduction to fantasy writing for me, and will definitely lead me to read similar books in the genre. The large size of this volume seemed less intimidating due to the previous books in the series being so well written, and I found myself saddened when I neared the end.

Well worth a read if you haven’t done so already, and don’t be put off by the genre or length!

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett (Book Review)

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The third in the Discworld series, following on from the other two!

The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check on the new-born baby’s sex…

Terry Pratchett turns his acute satirical eye on sexual equality and chauvanism in his hilarious third Discworld novel.

The story centers around Discworlds first female wizard – witches being something quite different and altogether more sensible.

The story essentially follows Esk throughout her life in the village under the guidance of a witch, picking up magic quickly and beyond even the witches capabilities. She then travels to the Unseen University to attempt entry as the first female wizard.

I think I enjoyed this book a little less than the other two, but it still had it’s funny moments and clever dialogue. Worth a read as an introduction to some characters I am told re-appear in the late books however; which I intend on reading!

I guess the obvious is that this book touches on feminism – that on Discworld, it is only tradition that says wizards have to be male, and that it is not “written anywhere”. I was expecting this to be a bit heavy-handed, but it was handled quite well and in a satirical way which perhaps merit mention.

“Mort” next!

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch (Book Review)

I bought this as, this year, I am trying to explore genres which I have previously avoided. This was suggested as a good fantasy series, and I was interested enough in the premise to give it a go:

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.

Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the oor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentleman Bastards.

The capricious and colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they’ve ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a mudererous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling to stay alive…

As an introduction into the fantasy genre, I certainly chose a good one! The Lies of Locke Lamora is likely the best book I have read so far in 2017, and I look forward to continuing the series.

The setting is unique too many fantasy books, being set in a single city, where the noblemen live in comfort, whilst the majority either have to steal to survive, or become slaves.

The magic system isn’t too convoluted either – some characters are capable of magic, either for destruction or (more commonly) healing for a price – none of the main protagonists have magic abilities, and so it is very much a scenic fact for the setting.

The writing style is very captivating too, with each chapter ending with an ‘interlude’, flashing-back to The Gentlemen Bastards childhood, as they are apprenticed into becoming master thieves. My hesitancy with fantasy books is that, with their being so many, they are often badly written, and the use of language is either underwhelming, or intentionally overwhelming. Lynch strikes the perfect balance, and the intermingled humour was spot on for the tone of the novel.

The characters are well developed and very unique – not veering down the cliche fantasy-thief types that (I admit) I was half expecting. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and feels well thought out during the reading. The story-line kept the motivations and plans of the characters well hidden though, leading to some great reveals as the plot unraveled.

I have already bought the second in the series, and look forward to starting it later in the month!