Last year I read and loved The Lies of Locke Lamora (the first book in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series), and this past month I finally got around to reading the next two instalments, Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves.
Check out my reviews below!
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
‘“I want to hug you. And I want to tear your gods-damned head off. Both at once.”
“Ah,” said Locke. “Near as I can tell, that’s the definition of ‘family’ right there.”’
Following an almost fatal fight against members of the Camorri underworld Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen have been forced to flee their city of birth and find refuge in Tal Verrar. This new city offers new opportunities for people of their expertise, and it isn’t long before they’re up to their old tricks: conning rich people out of money. However, they soon find themselves at the mercy of someone else’s game, and this one could prove deadly…
One of the things I loved so much about The Lies of Locke Lamora was the characters, and especially the friendship between Locke and Jean, and so I was hoping for their epic bromance to continue throughout this book. And it definitely delivered!
Even at the beginning when Locke is feeling sorry for himself and Jean is having to give him some tough love I loved their relationship, and it continues to be the highlight of the series. I liked the way it changed throughout though, and developed, with Locke coming to realise he perhaps has to stand on his own two feet more, and let Jean do his own thing sometime (eg. have his romance with Ezri, which was another relationship I loved!).
It was a good thing I was super invested in their friendship though, as the start of the book was fairly slow, and for a long time it seemed like not that much was actually happening. For a book that promised pirate adventures, it took about half of the book before any sailing actually took place!
I did enjoy the new setting of Tal Verrar though, and Scott Lynch’s world-building ability continues to be second-to-none in this book. I did prefer the second half of the book though, when the characters took to the sea, and I adored the new characters introduced there, namely Drakasha and Ezri. Most of the main characters in the first book were male, so it was cool to see such kick-ass females coming into play in this second book!
Overall I enjoyed this book just as much as the first, and to my surprise it managed to deliver the same level of gut punch as the first one. I’d hoped to get through this one without getting super emotional, but I didn’t make it unfortunately! Even though it was a little slow at the beginning, the pace eventually picked up, and I loved the new characters, and continue to love Locke and Jean and their incredible friendship.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
‘”I don’t expect life to make sense,” he said after a few moments, “but it could certainly be pleasant if it would stop kicking us in the balls.”’
Locke and Jean are on the run again from a job gone South. However, this time things are looking truly desperate, with Locke slowly succumbing to a deadly poison. In the nick of time, he’s offered a way to live: but it means working for the very people they’ve been on the run from since Camorr. Charged with winning a Bondsmagi election, the pair have their work cut out for them, and that’s without accounting for their opponent: Sabetha, the only woman Locke has ever loved, and a formidable con woman in her own right.
I decided to read this book soon after finishing Red Seas Under Red Skies for two reasons: 1. more Locke and Jean bromanicing, and 2. the promised reveal of Sabetha, a character who had been continually referenced in the first two books but never seen.
Did I get both of these things in The Republic of Thieves? Yes, but in one aspect, I found it a little disappointing. But let’s start with the good!
Locke and Jean are still one of my favourite bookish friendships after this book! Jean’s determination to save Locke’s life and the way he supports Locke through some pretty emotional times in this book was seriously heart-warming, whilst their witty banter is always fun to read.
I also liked the new setting of Karthain in this book. Scott Lynch seems to be able to imbue all of the various settings in his books with their own particular atmosphere and charm, which means each book has quite a different feel, which I love!
I also feel like the pacing of this book was a little steadier than in the previous one, with some pretty exciting events kicking off early in the book.
But now, we unfortunately have to talk about the disappointments of this book…and by that I mean Sabetha. I really, really disliked her as a character, which was such a shame! It’s not that I think she’s a badly written character or anything – she was incredibly complex and nuanced – I just really disliked her as a person, and the way she treats Locke. She can’t seem to decide what she wants from him, and seems to change her mind every other scene, which I found really frustrating!
I did love the flashback interludes though about the way they met and their time growing up together, although a lot of that was because it meant getting to see characters like Chains, Calo and Galdo again. I’ve always liked the structure of the Gentleman Bastard books with the consistent flashbacks, but I think this book was the one with my favourite flashback scenes of the series.
On the whole, I did really enjoy this book, even if I found the reveal of Sabetha kind of disappointing. Despite that, I’m still intrigued to find out where her relationship with Locke goes in future books, and I can’t wait to find out where the story will take Locke and Jean next!
So have you read the Gentleman Bastard books? What did you think? Did you love or hate Sabetha?