Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Recommendation: "The Republic of Thieves" (book 3 in the Gentleman Bastard series)

I loved the first two books in the Gentleman Bastard series, but The Republic of Thieves was a bit of a letdown. It wasn't a bad book, but I wasn't nearly as immersed in it as I was with the two others.

It'll be easier to review this book if I discuss each plotline individually:

1. The election: It's no secret that the election is all a big game. The game is to cheat better than the other side, and the outcomes don't really matter. I suppose this might be some satire on elections in the real world, but that doesn't change the fact that there were no real stakes in this book. It was basically a big vacation for Locke and Jean--one that might have been more interesting if any of the secondary characters were even a little bit memorable.

2. Sabetha: Sabetha was awesome. She is clearly just as sneaky and cunning as Locke, if not more so. I want more Sabetha. (Hell, I'll take a whole book with just Sabetha.)

You know that trope where the female character is just as capable and awesome as the male protagonist (or so the author claims), but for whatever reason, neither she (nor the plot) ever questions her secondary role in the story? What I appreciated about this novel is that it actually acknowledges that trope. At one point, Sabetha actually points out that Locke takes his leadership role for granted--that people implicitly accept him as a leader, even when she has demonstrated stronger aptitude. She never outright claims that this is due to sexism, but the implication is very strong.

3. The romance: It was believable. The romantic bits weren't my favorite part, but they worked.

4. The Bondsmagi: The mythos behind the Bondsmagi is really cool, but this whole element of the plot wasn't well-integrated into the story. There was a lot of info-dump about them early in the story, but afterwards, they were basically forgotten. Even their re-appearance at the end of the story felt more like an after-thought.

5. The backstory chapters: Awesome. (Though I do wish some of them had been condensed more.)

6. The reveal about Locke's true identity: Out of the blue and, for the most part, meaningless. I wish they'd hinted at it more, or at least made it somewhat relevant to the plot.

7. The final chapter: Fucking awesome. Before I reached that chapter, I wasn't sure if I would bother with the fourth book, but now that I've read it, I'm super excited!

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