Republic of Thieves: Con Artists in a Fantasy World
Republic of Thieves is the third book of Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards series. This series of fantasy novels depicts the actions of a pair of con men as they try to swindle and survive in a fantasy world that is reminiscent of the city states of early renaissance Italy.
Scott Lynch's books rate very highly on my list of the best fantasy stories. the closest analogy I can give for this excellent and well written series of stories is, "Oceans 11" meets "Game of Thrones".
Like Oceans 11, the Sting and other great, "con artist" stories, this tale has heaps of humor, action and more than it's fair share of fun.
It is similar to Game of Thrones in that it is both uncompromising and it is written with a lower level of "fantasy" than many other fantasy books. Although there is "magic" in the world the Scott Lynch has built, it is limited to the hands of one single group of super powerful "bad guys" and is not a major part of the story. The magic in this world is more of a fulcrum that forces the characters to their actions.
Spoiler free look at the first two books
The "Gentlemen Bastard" series of books are complete books. You do not NEED to read the previous books to enjoy them. Unlike some series, each book is a complete story in itself. It ends the tale and wraps up all the drama in the end. There is however a continuing storyline also, so it helps to get to know the characters from the first novel.
It is also my personal opinion that the first novel happens to be the best of the bunch, which makes it into my top ten fantasy novels of all time. A pretty darn good achievement, since I have read quite a few.
I do not want to go into too much detail and soil the fun of thr first two books, but let me give a quick rundown of the first two novels.
Lies of Locke Lamora: Half of this story is in "flashback" scenes. Where we see how Locke became a thief to survive and how he met his chosen 'family' of fellow thieves. The other side of the story has Locke dealing with the effects of a takeover of the top of the criminal underworld at the same time he and his fellows are preparing the most audacious con of their lives.
Red Seas under Red Skies: This story continues the take of Locke and Jean. They have moved on from their homeland due to the events of the first book. In this one you really get the "Ocean's 11" analogy, since a significant part of the book is an attempt to rob a casino that is impossible to rob. In addition to the robbery events also lead them to the high seas, where they try their hands at piracy in an style that can only be attempted by the inestimable Locke Lamora.
Review of Republic of Thieves
That brings us to the most recent novel. One that I have been waiting since 2007 to read: The Republic of Thieves. Events in the end of the previous novel have left Locke and Jean in dire straits. This leads them to accept a job from their sworn enemy: the mages.
It seems that every few years the mages have an election. No magiccan be used to influence the elections, but third parties can do whatever is needed to rig and control the voting. This makes it right up Locke's crooked alley,
Since the first book, Locke has been constantly talking about his one true love, Sabatha, who may be even a better thief and con artist than Locke himself. So far we have never met this character, but this is HER book.
Locke is hired by one side, and to counter this, Sabetha is hired by the other. The one time lovers, who know each others every move, are in direct conflict in the battleground of politics. With riches and even Locke's very life the stakes for success and failure.
While I still think the first book was the best, this book is no slouch. Fans of Locke Lamora, good fantasy in general or even a well written "con" story are sure to love this tale of intrigue and derring do.
I have been a long time fantasy fan. I have probably read well over 1000 fantasy books in my life. So saying that this book makes my top ten list means that it is something special.
It is a wonderful book. It is funny and fun. It makes you laugh out loud in parts, but it can also be serious and break your heart with some of the unexpected twists and turns. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Locke Lamora as a pirate on the high seas. Running a caper to steal from an unbreakable casino, and of course going against the rich and powerful controlling a new land. Another winner and another great book in the Gentleman Bastard series!
Like Fantasy? Find out more about my favorite fantasy of all time! Game of Thrones.
I mentioned earlier that Lies of Locke Lamora has been one of my favorite fantasy books of all times. One of the reasons I gave this book a chance early one was from a strong recommendation of one of my favorite fantasy authors, George RR Martin, who wrote the Game of Thrones series that many people are finally coming to enjoy now that it is being serialized on HBO.
If you enjoy fantasy stories, or just intense action and realistic drama of any kind, chances are you have at least heard of Game of Thrones and George RR Martin. I cannot say enough about these stories and hope that you will give the books or the HBO TV series (at least) a chance.
I have written quite a bit about these stories and a few of my posts are below that you may enjoy,
Game of Thrones Book and Show: An overview of the Game of Thrones books. An intro to the HBO TV series. As well as a synopsis of some of the popular "Dunk and Egg" short stories written by George RR Martin in the same world as Game of Thrones. (events happening about 100 years prior to the events of the main series.)
Game of Thrones DVD: If you have not read these books yet, or seen the movie. Why not find out more about this series by finding out more about the seasons of this show now available on DVD.
Things to do while waiting for the new Game of Thrones book. I love the Game of Thrones books. They are premier fantasy. But Martin takes forever to write new books. Averaging about 1 every 4-5 years. Since Dance of Dragons came out a bit more than 1 year ago -it will be a while before Winds of Winter. This lens has some funny ideas of things you can do with your time while waiting for this new book, as well as some practical advice of OTHER good fantasy books you can read while waiting. Like the Gentlemen Bastard series of books by Scott Lynch.
Books like Game of Thrones. The wait for A song of Ice and Fire books can be inexorable. Find other quality, gritty and realistic books you can enjoy while waiting.
Game of Thrones back story: One of the things that is cutout from the television version of this series is a detailed look at the historical events that lead up to the start of the series. These story bits come to us in dribs and drabs in the books and novellas of this series. You do not NEED to know the backstory of everything that is going on to enjoy the TV series, but it does help to deepen the appreciation and give a better understanding as to the characters actions.