Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, readalong week 3

Welcome everyone to the third week of the Republic of Thieves readalong (weeks 1 and 2 here and here!).  I hope you all had an excellent weekend filled with fun and Gentlemen Bastards.

This week we read Chapter 6 thru Interlude “Aurin and Amadine”.  We finally get an introduction to the theatre troupe that the gang will be working with and in the election competition we see the boys unexpectedly wind up back out at sea!  For those not reading along please beware of spoilers below.

  1. The election competition.  Sabetha isn’t wasting any time throwing pranks at Locke and Jean.  Mostly it seemed fairly harmless, or at least not overly serious, until they were kidnapped and put onto a ship and taken out to sea.  What did you make of Sabetha’s latest plan? And what did you think about the way she executed it?  I never saw that coming at all!  In fact I was quite staggered. I really hadn’t realised just how seriously this whole election campaign was going to be taken.  We started off with a few pranks, spider infestations, minor insults, bit of pick pocketing and it was plain to see that Locke and Jean were playing catch up with Sabetha who seemed to be constantly one step ahead.  At first I was really shocked that she’d put them out to sea – and I do mean really shocked!  It just never occurred to me that either side would take such measures.  I guess all’s fair in love and war after all.  And, as to the way she executed her plan – well, at the end of the day we all know that Locke is besotted with Sabetha and we’ve had lots of discussion about whether she manipulates his obsession or not – well this put us all straight.  Yes, she’s aware of how much he idolises her and no she’s not afraid to use it!  She crooked her finger and he came running and fell hook, line and sinker into her little plan.
  2. During the escape overboard and Jean’s rather subtle nose dive into the water – I was curious about the lights Locke saw deep in the water when he was performing his rescue – Locke thought they looked different once he was under the waves which I suppose they would but he also had the feeling that he was being watched?  Do you think this relates back to the Eldren or some other presence? Firstly, I thought it was great that Locke actually got to do some rescuing as it feels that Jean is usually the one getting Locke out of trouble.  I really don’t know what the lights under water signify – that’s why I asked this because I’m hoping that one of you has a theory!  Maybe mermaids exist in this world – it does seem as though the lights were at first an attraction but once Locke was in the water he felt like he was being watched by something more sinister.  A bit as though the lights are some kind of lure or trap?
  3. Given that Locke hadn’t seen Sabetha for five years how did you think their first meeting together went (well, it wasn’t strictly speaking their first meeting of course – were you surprised that Jean and Locke hadn’t figured out that the woman pickpocket was Sabetha?) and also what did you make of Jean and Sabetha’s reaction to each other? I think the first meeting they had with Sabetha, even though she was in disguise, showed again how she was ahead of them, it never even occurred to them that it was her!  Even with the initialled handkerchief.  I thought for the second meeting there was a really big build up, Locke getting ready hours in advance (so he’d have enough time for pacing nervously) and so the initial meet felt a little bit flat almost.  I guess I was hoping for more emotion in some way, even if they were both annoyed and shouting at each other.  It felt like they were both treading on eggshells a bit although I liked that it gave us a little bit more insight into why Sabetha left.  I thought Jean and Sabetha’s reaction was very interesting and even a bit strange.  Jean seemed very cool and suspicious of Sabetha and it was Sabetha who instigated the hug.  I suppose Jean isn’t the one enamoured with Sabetha after all and maybe he doesn’t like watching Locke constantly suffering over her?
  4. So, the gang have arrived in Espara and already the plans have gone wrong through no fault of their own!  Jail for a year plus lose a hand for slapping a noble?? What do you think of the justice system in Espara and how does this bode for the gang?  Losing a hand for hitting someone – bloody hell!  I don’t suppose it should come as a surprise that the justice system is biased – it’s probably put in place by the nobility after all! The way the GBs carry on you can’t help thinking they could all end up missing a few body parts!  They’re not shy about insulting people after all and we all know they have light fingers – what do you suppose is the penalty for pick pocketing!  Lose both hands and have your ears cut off if not worse.  It makes you think that they’re going to need to be very careful whilst in Espara not to upset any of the nobility.
  5. The acting company are finally coming together and we’re watching the gang as they try to read, act and grab the best parts – are you all ‘happy face’ with the whole theatre scenes or, sad face!  Also, I can’t help feeling like this whole storyline is a step out of character for the gang.  Any ideas of how it will play out??  I love the theatre story.  I think it’s genius.  It shows us the gang finally getting to put a lot of their training into use.  They need to be able to act after all when they start pulling cons.  Plus I think the play itself is great.  This part of the story is unusual because Chains has sent them to help somebody and until they get a feel for the place they won’t really know how to do that.  Of course it all goes wrong from square one with Moncraine being in prison!  I liked that they didn’t use this as an opportunity to pack up and go back home but saw it as a challenge and we finally got to see Locke and Sabetha in action together pretending to be nobles in disguise (I love that they’re thieves, pretending to be nobles who are pretending to be actors).  I guess this storyline is also going to give us some more of Sabetha and Locke’s background and add to the ‘will they won’t they’ debate.
  6. We are also being introduced to a number of new characters, particularly Moncraine and Boulidazi.  What are your first impressions of these two and the other new characters in the Company and any particular likes or dislikes so far?  I can’t say that I like either of the two new characters so far.  Although I probably dislike Boulidazi marginally more than Moncraine.  I mean Moncraine is obviously a bit of a maniac isn’t he?  Why would you punch a noble in the first place (if you know the punishment) but why when he’s offering to help you out.  Why wouldn’t a simple ‘no’ suffice?  Considering his position he’s not short of arrogance and pig headedness.  He’s also not particularly concerned about anyone else but himself.  His whole ‘being in prison for a year is the best place to be’ – for him – what about all the other troupe members and the mess it leaves them in.  Then Boulidazi – he’s a slippery sort, or so he seems to me.  I didn’t like, for example, that he immediately saw himself as a likely suitor for Sabetha and also that he took Locke to one side to ask about her – like she doesn’t have a say in the matter at all!
  7. The rooftop scene and the apology.  How did it all go so wrong?  And how will Locke get out of this latest fix with Boulidazi?   OMG, how could it go so wrong so quickly!  Locke was doing so well, he was finally making a good impression with Sabetha and they were talking at last!  I did want to say to him though to ‘shut up’ – he was just so determined to say as much as possible as quickly as possible.  It went from punching the air to slumped shoulders in one easy step! To be honest I don’t quite get the whole obsession with the ‘hair’ colour thing.  I mean, why is he fixated on Sabetha’s hair colour.  Obviously he loves her and so he loves everything about her but I suppose from her point of view you wouldn’t want somebody to be just fixated on something like that would you?  Okay, he has this memory of the first time he saw her hair and he romantically seems to link this with his Sabetha ‘lightbulb’ moment, but he still seems to know so little about her or how she feels.  I mean, she dyes her hair and never lets her true colour show – has he never thought about that?? Or that maybe there’s a reason behind it so going down the whole ‘the first time I saw your beautiful red hair’ route seemed highly likely to cause problems!  You just can’t help feeling sorry for him though.  He tries so hard to please her and he’s just so desperate for any scrap she throws his way!  As to how he will get out of his latest trouble with Boulidazi, I think that Sabetha will come to his rescue – just like she did when she thought he was being arrested by the yellow jacket!

Quotes this week:

‘Yeah, but if I don’t start my nervous pacing now, I’ll never have it all done in time.’

‘Remember how she joked about twenty armed men in the next room?’  said Jean with a resigned sign.  He set down the book he’d been reading.  ‘There were twenty armed men in the next room.’  How cute is Jean – sat on his bed reading!  *sigh*

‘Do you want to do as you’re told, or do you want to kiss that pavement?’  It turned out he wanted to do as he was told!  (Well you would wouldn’t you – kissing pavements – not recommended!)

Check out everyone’s answers here:

Many a true nerd

Genkinahito’s Blog

Over the Effing Rainbow

Just Book Reading

Violin in a Void

Little Red Reviewer

All I am a Redhead

Dab of Darkness

Joma Fantasy

Theft and Sorcery

Coffee, Cookies and Chilli Peppers

Booky Pony

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‘Time is precious and my knife is sharp…’

That’s right, Jean Tannen is back *faints*.  Okay enough of that!

This week we join in the read along for Republic of Thieves being hosted by the lovely Dab of Darkness.  Schedule for rest of read along here (it’s never too late to join in!  ‘Mmm, do, or do not, there is no try’.

I loved getting back into this world.  In fact I read this with a stupid grin on my face for the majority of the time – not a pretty look for me!!  Plus snorting and laughing. (Ladylike at all!)  Lynch has come up with a whole new world of insults that are so funny that I actually think I hurt myself while reading!  So to the Q&A.  Also, people reading this who haven’t read the first two in the Gentlemen Bastard series, really?  Why??  Come on folks get on it – it’s simply too good to miss.  There, that’s my gentle encouragement, plus, we may not be able to be friends if you don’t share my ridiculously out of control and a little over the top love of Lynch – well we probably can but I would so like to talk to you all about these books.  And, there will be spoilers to follow so close your eyes now:

1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Carlo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance? Aww, this was like happy dance followed by sad face, because it is bitter sweet.  I’d get all drawn in and be reading about something and then be brought up sharp by the remembrance that they’re not with us any more.  It really is a guilt trip.  Happy one moment and then feeling almost guilty because you realise it’s only a temporary, short sugar hit of happiness.

2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?  I think it will play out all on Sabetha’s terms.  Right from square one you can see Locke is in awe and from there onwards they’re never really on a level playing field.  You can also see how competitive and ambitious Sabetha is.  Her and Locke are in a battle of the wills except Locke doesn’t seem to realise it.  It feels like even at this early stage Sabetha is trying to best Locke and yet he so casually seems to achieve things – it must be damned infuriating I suppose and yet she surely knows she has the upper hand in terms of pulling Locke’s strings?

3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?  It made me well up!  Really it did.  I mean I know I have a soft spot for Jean (okay a bit girly crush) but it was a bit of an eye opener – especially the bit about he’s going to be the last one left.  I had shivers.

4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience? It felt a little bit like grasping at straws really.  As though he knows he doesn’t have any real sway but he’s trying to impose some sort of semblance of having authority.  Mmmm, what would I ask Patience.  That’s very tricksy of you and my mind has gone blank (let’s face it it wasn’t a big step out of character – I just know that everyone is going to come up with all sorts of awesome answers to this and my mind is refusing to comply.  Empty.  Zip!)

5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election? Well, I found that exchange totally perplexing – but, as I’ve already read this once I’m not going to comment too much.  What I do remember quite clearly though is being totally clueless by this brief conversation, I mean, it seems that Patience wasn’t involved in whatever the discussion was so it was clear to me then that she wasn’t involved but I genuinely didn’t know and so just raced on to try and find out.

On a separate note – we got to go back to the tunnels and is anybody else finding themselves picturing Fagin from Oliver when they read the

Ron Moody's Fagin or the Thiefmaker??

Ron Moody’s Fagin or the Thiefmaker??

Thiefmaker.  I just can’t help it and more to the point I’m seeing and hearing the actor Ron Moody – which is no bad thing because he owned that role. (I have a strange sense of deja vu from prior readalong with this).

“Sad day, my loves, a proper tragedy but when the milk’s gone bad you might as well look forward to cheese, hmmm?’

Also, I couldn’t help myself from highlighting a few things here and there:

‘A real smirking rat fucker’ – had me in stitches

‘sweet dancing donkey shit’; and

‘slower than an underwater fart’! – Yes, I will use this.

Also, I can confirm that Jean is still my book crush.  I hope you realise how loyal I am to stay so dedicated for this length of time – let’s face it though he’s just a hunk!  And he get’s some of the best lines which means he’s pretty funny as well! (Hah, caveman, wise-cracking bad ass! – what more could you possibly want?)

Great Scott!! Is that a DeLorean time machine? Don’t be stupid. It’s Republic of Thieves

I mean it, literally.  Great. Scott. Lynch!  I love this guy.  This post is going to be a little love letter to Republic of Thieves which I recently completed reading.  It’s also going to give details of a readalong and you’re all invited to the party, plus a cool little book trailer.

As usual, with the authors that I really enjoy reading, I went into this with a certain measure of ‘can he/can’t he’ do it again.  Don’t worry – he totally did it!  This book was great, amazing, fantastic even.  Different than the last two but so good.

Starting more or less where the last left off, Locke is poisoned and Jean is desperately trying to find an antidote.  Things are getting a bit grim and Locke is deteriorating fast.  Okay, I’m probably not giving too much away if I say that Locke doesn’t actually die so rest easy!  The way of the antidote was totally unexpected for me (as I tried to avoid picking up any spoilers before reading) and turns into the route to the latest situation that Locke and Jean find themselves in.  On top of this we have a dual story which takes us back to the original gang and one of the little escapades they found themselves in with all the resulting chaos.

I’m not going to give anything more away about the plot.  Especially as there’s a readalong right around the corner which will have loads of (incredibly intelligent, well thought out) discussion about every aspect!  But, I did say this would be a love letter and this is the reason why.

  • I loved that the story went back in time and we got some history on our boys, and girl!
  • I loved that this element of the story meant we spent time with the Sanza twins
  • I laughed – quite loudly and often at rather inopportune and embarrassing moments at the great variety of ways that Lynch has discovered to insult someone and I also found out that tea is not supposed to spurt out of the nostrils – it’s a little bit uncomfortable so I suggest not drinking any hot drinks whilst reading this book
  • My stomach growled at some of the descriptions of strange food and drink, some in appreciation – some not!
  • I loved that this book is to theatre what Red Seas Under Red Skies was to pirates – Lynch’s own particular interpretation but brought alive so successfully
  • We finally find out about Sabetha – *wiggles eyebrows mysteriously* (and I’m not going to elaborate further!)
  • I banged my head in frustration at the way Locke and Sabetha behaved (in a good way of course – imagine banging your head against a wall made of marshmallow, no, too sticky – a wall of cushions!)
  • The depth to the characters, descriptions of place and concept are fantastic
  • And, Jean Tannen remains my major book crush!  Need I say more?
  • Okay, how about really nasty baddies
  • or a total WTF ending!

On top of this, what I really like about this series is the relationship between the characters.  They’re all, for want of a better word, naughty, but you just have to love them!  And they always aim so high don’t they…  Plus the dialogue which just feels really natural.

It would be a tiny bit obscene to gush further so I’m going to stop!

I mentioned above a readalong, nay, an immense readalong.  The details are as follows and as you can see the timeline is incredibly generous:

Week 1 – prologue thru Intersect I, hosted by Dab of Darkness, questions go out Oct 25, posts go up Oct 28

week 2 – chapter 3 thru interlude “Bastards Abroad”, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow, question go out Nov 1, posts go up Nov  4

week 3 – Chapter 6 thru Interlude “Aurin and Amadine”, hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog, questions go out Nov 8, posts go up Nov 11

week 4 – Chapter 8 thru chapter 10, hosted by Little Red Reviewer, questions go up  Nov 15, posts go up Nov 18

week 5, – Interlude “Death masks” thru epilogue, hosted by Tethyan Books, questions go up Nov 22, posts go up Nov 25.

Sincerely, I hope you will find time to join in.  This series is one of my favourites and I just want everyone else to share the joy (because I’m a nice sharing person like that).  If you haven’t started the series then there’s still time – if you don’t think you can catch up however I still hope you’ll read this series because you’re in for such a treat.

Also, follow this link and check out the trailer – which is way cool:

http://fantasy-faction.com/2013/republic-of-thieves-by-scott-lynch-exclusive-book-trailer

Hoping you can come to the party.  It’s going to be fun, there’s going to be hats, cake and wine – oh, sorry, wrong party, but there will be loads of bloggers sharing witty repartee.

I received a copy of this through Netgalley for which I will be forever grateful!

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, final readalong

And so we come to the end of our readalong and what an amazing experience this has been.  Brought to us by some really amazing hosts and involving so many brilliant bloggers.  It’s been great:

Even though this is the final week – you’re never too late to join in (well, you’re a bit late but you can still go back to the readalong and check out the questions) and pick up the threads of discussion.  More to the point, you’re never to late to pick up this book and be lost in the world of Camorr and the lives of the Gentlemen Bastards.  So don’t wait any longer.  The following will however contain spoilers so if you haven’t read the book you might want to stop reading now!  This week’s instalment brought us constant tension and laugh out loud moments.  Personally I loved the whole scene with Locke in the Tower – firstly coming face to face with Merragio whilst wearing the clothes he’s stolen from him and then bumping into the Grey King as well.  Without further ado the questions and discussions follow.  The hosts for this blog are below:

Dark Cargo
Little Red Reviewer
SFSignal
MyAwfulReviews

1.       The Thorn of Camorr is renowned – he can beat anyone in a fight and he steals from the rich to give to the poor.  Except of course that clearly most of the myths surrounding him are based on fantasy and not fact.  Now that the book is finished how do you feel the man himself compares to his legend.  Did you feel that he changed as the story progressed and, if so, how did this make you feel about him by the time the conclusion was reached?

I think to an extent the legend that surrounds the Thorn is one of those typical snowball type of theories which gathers size and momentum as it goes downhill.  You could argue that Locke is useless in a fight and also that he doesn’t give his money away to the poor – all of which is true.  But, you could also say that he’s never shed blood in any of his jobs, he’s a really big softie (as the Spider herself acknowledged after he returned to the Tower to save the nobility), that he managed to defend himself quite well against the Grey King and also that he paid rather a huge death offering by having the plague ship with all his stolen talons on board (which he could have kept).  So, really his reputation is not that far from the mark.  I did think he changed as the story progressed.  I think at the start of the story you didn’t get too much of an understanding for the feelings he had for his fellow GBs but by the end you could certainly feel the strength of feeling and the regard he held them in.  He called them his brothers – which I thought was really rather touching!  By the end of the story I definitely liked him, a lot.  He proved that as well as being able to plot elaborate cons he was able to think on his feet, act under pressure and show that he cared not only for his own little select gang of bandits but also for many more people as well.  Funnily enough I think by the end of the story he fitted the description attributed to the Thorn much more than at the start.

2.       Scott Lynch certainly likes to give his leading ladies some entertaining and strong roles to play.  We have the Berangia sisters – and I definitely wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of them or their blades plus Dona Vorchenza who is the Spider and played a very cool character – even play acting to catch the Thorn.  How did you feel about the treatment the sisters and Dona received at the hands of Jean and Locke – were you surprised, did it seem out of character at all or justified?

I really liked both of the above characters to an extent.  They’re certainly not soft and fluffy and I don’t think we’d ever be friends.  But, I had a certain type of respect for the Berangia sisters and the way they were so kickass.  And, the Spider, playing at Locke’s game really and allowing people’s own misconceptions to hide her secret identity for this length of time.  All that being said, I felt no sympathy for the Berangias.  They knew what they were doing.  They plotted to catch and kill Jean and they were completely confident in their own abilities.  The fact that they lost is just really too bad!  I know who I preferred to win!  I did have a certain sympathy for Dona Vorchenza when Locke socked her in the jaw, but he had the decency himself to feel bad for his own course of action and really I can’t see how he could have done any differently.  She shouldn’t have  under-estimated him but she made the mistake of thinking of them both as intellectuals.  But, if Locke had remained trapped – she would undoubtedly have made him suffer and would not have shown sympathy.  Plus, if you trap something in a corner it’s going to lunge at you eventually.

 3.       Towards the end we saw a little more of the magic and the history of the Bondsmagi.  The magic, particularly with the use of true names, reminds me a little of old fashioned witchcraft or even voodoo.  But, more than that I was fascinated after reading the interlude headed ‘The Throne in Ashes’ about the Elderglass and the Elders and why their structures were able to survive even against the full might of the Bondsmagi – do you have any theories about this do you think it’s based on one of our ancient civilisations or maybe similar to a myth??

Well, the most obvious comparison that I could come to with this would be the Roman Empire.  The Roman’s went all over conquering and ruling – but they didn’t always stay and yet they left a legacy behind wherever they went.  But, the thing I was thinking about most when reading about the Elderglass was the City of Atlantis – and don’t ask me why – I can’t explain myself but I’ve always pictured Atlantis as being contained in a huge, glass bubble!

4.       We have previously discussed Scott Lynch’s use of description and whether it’s too much or just spot on.  Having got into the last quarter of the book where the level of tension was seriously cranked up – did you still find, the breaks for interludes and the descriptions useful or, under the circumstances did it feel more like a distraction?

I actually still enjoyed the interludes and the description.  I did have a moment towards the end where I was almost cursing and thinking ‘not bloody now for godssake’ but then as usual with these little mini stories I got sucked in.  To some extent I do think it lessens the tension but on the plus side it felt as though it made me slow down and think a bit more than I otherwise might of and so I accredit this with stopping me from just simply racing ahead and finishing as quickly as possible.

5.       Now that the book has finished how did you feel about the conclusion and the eventual reveal about the Grey King and more to the point the motivations he declared for such revenge – does it seem credible, were you expecting much worse or something completely different altogether?

I really enjoyed the conclusion – particularly the whole Grey King and Locke fighting to the death scenario (which does make me sound a bit bloodthirsty!).  Just, they both had their own individual reasons and at that particular juncture they both pretty much hated each other – Locke because of the GBs and all that he and Jean had also been put through and the Grey King because of his sisters, his plans being thwarted and the sinking of his means of escape together with all the money which he thought he’s gained!  It’s difficult to remember how I originally felt about the motives of the Grey King, I think what he and his family suffered was terrible but I kind of lost all sympathy for him because he didn’t care who he affected in his plans for revenge.   He just went hell for leather and swept everyone up in is plot.  The GBs had never done anything to hurt or offend him and look how badly they fared in his scheming.  I suppose it would be childish to say he was unfair – but he was!

6.       Were you surprised that Locke, being given two possible choices (one of which could possibly mean he would miss his chance for revenge on the Grey King) chose to go back to the Tower  – especially given that (1) he would have difficulty in getting into the building (2) he would have difficulty in convincing them about the situation and (3) he would have difficulty in remaining free afterwards? Did anyone else nearly pee their pants when Locke and the rest were carrying the sculptures up to the roof garden?

I actually was surprised that Locke returned to the Tower to rescue the nobility but I think it’s one of the finer turning points of the story which helps to emphasise the true nature of the man.  And, I was so tense when they were all carrying the sculptures up to the top – even though I knew the ending.  That whole wraithstone thing was so nasty!

7.       Finally, the other question I would chuck in here is that, following the end of the book I was intrigued to check out some of the reviews of LOLL and noticed that the negative reviews mentioned the use of profanity.  How did you feel about this – was it excessive? Just enough? Not enough?

I really didn’t find the swearing a problem at all, in fact, on rereading I was surprised because I thought it seemed that there was less of it than I remembered!  I probably wouldn’t mind a bit more – it makes me laugh when they’re all cussing at each other and the air turns blue!

8.       Okay one further, and probably most important but very quick question – having finished, will you pick up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies?

Hell yes!