Republic of Thieves Read Along – Weeks 2 & 3

Last week, I didn’t get around to answering any questions. Why? Because during the weekend I was in Brighton, meeting Scott and fellow Right People. Without my laptop. So I think I may be excused. This week, I’m doing both last and this week’s questions though!

WEEK TWO

Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?

I don’t think the pain and such will come back to haunt him, but oh, I do hope the ghost Bug will keep nagging at him because it was amazing! My heart was racing as I read it in the middle of the night! It was unexpected, and discomfiting, and I loved it! And I like sins-written-in-the-eyes thing, absolutely gorgeous.

Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?

I’ve got to say I squealed with utter delight on seeing the title of this interlude. I was hoping we’d see it some day! It intrigued me when it was mentioned in RSURS, and now we got it! I’m an absolute sucker for rituals and rules and all that, so it really hit the spot.

As to the Locke-Sabetha rivalry, well. At this point it seems Locke gets the things Sabetha wants, which is unfair considering how much drive she has, how hard she works, how ambitious she is, as opposed to his kind of drifting to places and turning out to be a natural. I wished Sabetha had gotten the final initiation, although of course we knew Locke was getting it. But there was that small flickering of hope they’d both get it…

Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?

I’m not really concerned with the Eldren, never have been. I like cities and countries and cultures and societies, but am not all that infatuated by obscure mysteries – something that probably sounds odd coming from a fantasy reader, but there it is. Mannerpunk is my thing more than epic fantasies. Unless it turns out the Eldren were rather people-like, I’m fine with anything we’re revealed about them. I am, however, interested in the magi of Karthain, those high-and-mighty assholes. Very, very interesting, they are, and I definitely like it that their power is far from infinite and that they are far from invincible.

Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?

Oh-ho-hoo, I love the teenage Bastards! Especially the twins! They are such annoying little ass-hats that you can’t but love them! I completely understand Chains, I would need a break, too. He’s harsh with them at this point, sure, but if you’ve lived with surly teenagers you know how bloody annoying it can get.

The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?

I think the addiction really adds to his character. It’s a touch that gives him an identity, above that of a tool. He’s a person, he’s got weaknesses, an inconvenience, no matter how helpful he tries to be. I like it.

Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathise with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

Of course I sympathise with Sabetha! Being the only lady in a group of guys can be tough, and when you don’t get your voice heard except for occasionally – yeah, it’s frustrating. And wrong. Locke’s reasons for frustration make sense because you see things mostly through his focalisation and therefore understand him a bit better (not to mention we’ve had time to adjust to him over the course of two books), but when you think about Sabetha’s position it’s pretty clear why she is how she is. She’s tough, and she has to be. Where is Nazca, they should hang out more.

As an extra, I want to say how much I love it when Locke starts arranging security matters. There’s an urgency and a drive, and I enjoy it so so much. It’s great fun to read, and you can just hear the wheels spinning in his head, the sheer effort and joy of thinking. Love it to death!

WEEK THREE

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 readily admit I did not see it coming, and then chided myself because of course it was coming. It’s what I like about these books in general though – I’m always one-upped. I never expect the things that happen. And it’s great. Plus I think it was a very good plan, and I love the attention to detail Sabetha puts into it. It shows she knows them inside out. And I really appreciate the twenty men she placed outside the door to take Jean down, one of the most amusing things so far!

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?

They’re probably something to do with the Eldren, given that no one seems to know what they are. Maybe something related to the mist at Parlour Passage (in RSURS)? For some reason I’d like to think so, although it might be the way in which the phenomenon’s are described, with that eerie Moomin Ghost Ship tone, and the connection to water and ships.

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?

Again, one of my favourite scenes. You need to reread it to see what was going on, once you’ve read it once. Ever so amused! At some point I started suspecting this was Sabetha though, as what are the odds she would find such an accomplished pickpocket in Karthain, where the underworld is quite non-existent? No, there’s no one who could match Sabetha in that respect, and oh the pure joy of it! It’s always good fun to see Locke so outplayed. You think you’re so clever mister.

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?

Jasmer’s punishment serves to show that Esparans are not very tolerant, and you can only imagine the punishment for murder or some such crime. I will take this opportunity to say how much I like these little cities in the book. Espara is wonderful, by the sounds of it very small but having pretences at grandeur, and don’t even get me started on Lashain! I hope we go back there at some point, in the novels or in whatever short stories and novellas are forthcoming. Lashain seems like an excellent place for a game, a good place to exercise your attention to detail, with all the strict societal rules and the constant assessment of your peers. I’m only sad we didn’t stay there longer…

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?

Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the play: I don’t usually care for much recited fictional things inside fictional things, if you get my meaning. Having said that, I utterly enjoy the play The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death in Ellen Kushner’s The Privilege of the Sword, and therefore feel inclined to give especially plays some consideration inside narratives. Republic of Thieves is so Shakespearean that the metre (or lack thereof) bothers me to some extent, although of course there’s no reason to expect it there.

On discussing the play on tumblr, there arose some speculation as to the characterization and the correspondence to the Bastards and their immediate circle – but that’s a conversation for later, I think.

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?

Jasmer is exasperating, but I kind of write him off as an artist and let him be. Boulidazi, though… He makes me uncomfortable. He’s not all that smart or sophisticated, but he’s not unobservant, and that spells trouble. He draws conclusions very much to Locke and Sabetha’s advantage here, but that is also a dangerous aspect, because he takes what he sees for granted and doesn’t really stop to ponder on alternative explanations.

And I have a soft spot for nobility, titles, the upper class society. The social history fan in me squealed with delight when he asked how he should address Locke and Sabetha. I’ve marked it down as “useful information”.

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?

I refer you to my previous answer. Boulidazi interprets things based on his observations and doesn’t really entertain any thoughts of other options. Dangerous, very dangerous.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Republic of Thieves Read Along – Weeks 2 & 3

  1. Pingback: Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, readalong week 3 | Lynn's Book Blog

  2. The scene with Bug was really good, and really creepy – it would be good to see a reappearance – for us the readers that is! Not so much for Locke!
    Yes, things do seem to fall into Locke’s lap without any real effort but I don’t suppose you can really knock him for it. It’s not his problem after all if Sabetha has to work hard. He’s just a natural is the way I look at it – like an artist for example.
    It is pretty impressive once Locke sets his mind to work. I loved watching him in action setting up the security. Unfortunately his mind hasn’t really been fully focused! Too much thinking about Sabetha.
    Bouldazi – yeah, I don’t like him. I don’t like the way he asked Locke about Sabetha. I don’t like the way he said she became more pleasing – coinciding with his discovery that she was from one of the top families in Camorr. Basically I just don’t like him.
    Lynn :D

  3. “And I like sins-written-in-the-eyes thing, absolutely gorgeous.” – You have an… interesting concept of gorgeous! I thought it was creepy as hell, and I’d feel so sorry for Bug if it were true. =/

    “They’re probably something to do with the Eldren, given that no one seems to know what they are. Maybe something related to the mist at Parlour Passage (in RSURS)?” – Oh, that’s a really interesting theory! We never did find out what that was all about, so I wonder whether that’s going to come back later sometime and whether it is related somehow.

    • Well, maybe gorgeous wasn’t the exact word, but there’s something in the idea that really appeals to me. I’m fond of the kind of ‘whole book tattood all over a rpiest/whatever’ thing that happens in fantasy occasionally, and this goes to the same category. Though Bug’s sins can’t be all that various, right? Seeing as he died so young?

      I really hope we go back to Parlour Passage sometime, especially with the figure Jean saw in the mists – ! It still bothers me!

  4. kaitharshayr

    Ah I was also at Brighton! :D Did you make it to Lynch’s reading? I ended up having to speed read the section last week and then bang out all the answers half asleep on Sunday evening.

    I’m not sure I want ghost Bug to come back, that whole bit was amazing and it was nice to see him (even if he wasn’t looking so good) but that was so so creepy! Although creepy is good. :)

    I’m quite intrigued by the play, I haven’t read many books (in fact i can’t think of any) where a writer has done that. It makes me very impressed with how Lynch is juggling the various different plot lines I know they tend to mirror each other the past and present, but even so there is so much going on. And now there is also a play (although we’ve only got the basic outline of it so far).

    It was fun when Locke started on the security arrangements and you know as soon as he started it that he’s just doing it to shake the board up, moving things around creating chaos until he actually comes up with a plan. A plan which can often take some time to form, he very much rides on his luck a lot of the way.

    http://manyatruenerd.com/2013/11/11/the-republic-of-thieves-read-along-part-3/

    • I wasn’t at the con so I didn’t get to go to the reading, but I was at Red Roaster for the off-con meet! Were you there? :D

      Well, I’d rather see Bug in flashbacks than in the ghostly form because I didn’t really feel like it was Bug, you know? But then the ghostly thing was so wonderfully creepy!

      As I said, I’m not big on fictional works inside fictional works, but the second time around Republic of Thieves bothered me less, mostly because could concentrate on it without the burn to just finish the book to know what happens. And when you think about it, there’s lots of interesting details and speculation possibilities in the play! 8D

      The security-arraging Locke is the Locke I like. The energy is amazing, and Sabetha really makes him up his game! Usually he can trust himself to be the smartest guy in the room (I just rewatched Now You See Me last night…) but when it comes to Sabetha he’s suddenly not the smartest and it makes him work so so hard and doubt himself, and that’s brilliant.

      • kaitharshayr

        Ah no, that was in the coffee shop? I missed that. I did see a tweet from Lynch about something in a coffee shop, but I didn’t quite twig/might have been after the fact/there were panels I wanted to go to. :(

        Yes when Locke’s bursting with energy, mind going a hundred miles an hour he is amazing to behold. :)

      • Yeah, it was at the coffee shop! Too bad you missed it, but hey, you did get to go to the reading! I heard it was really good?

  5. Pingback: Scott Lynch: The Republic of Thieves read-along #3 | All I am - a redhead

  6. I think seeing the author is a good reason to miss a week–I’m so jealous :).

    You know, I wish they had picked both Sabetha and Locke for priests. I suppose they didn’t actually say that it was a rule there could only be one from each group, after all. And yeah, they should hang out more with Nazca. She seemed to die so early in Lies, I would really like to see more of her in flashbacks!

    On Lashain, I hope they go back there, too. I found the nobles there particularly irritating (like that one physiker Jean had to kidnap), so it would be really satisfying to see Jean and Locke make their way back there and con them all.

    • It was awesome! I’m still a bit giddy about it!

      That’s exactly what I thought! And why did they pick Locke, anyway? Is it really because he’s a guy, or because Chains saw how the other little Bastards just accepted his leadership? And what would things have been like if they’d picked Sabetha?

      Uptight ladder-climbers with purchased titles and strict etiquette? YES PLEASE! :D I’d just love to see them wreak havoc in Lashain. I really, really would. It would be so beautiful!

      • omg, they need to go to Lashain! or hey, it’s too bad Salon Corbeau isn’t really around anymore, it’d be creepy/funny to have them all show up there too!

        my guess for why Locke got picked for the priesthood is because Chains DID already see that the other boys accepted his leadership. he’s already the unofficial leader of the gang, why not make it official?

  7. forget the questions (although your creative uses of the words asshat and asshole have me swooning), tell us more about your adventures in Brighton at a particular coffee house! :D pictures? commentary? giddiness? do tell!!

  8. That would have been awesome if Nazca and Sabetha could have been BFFs, hanging out together. But it would have been so awesome that the series would have been about those two, instead of Jean and Locke.

    While I haven’t taken to the play rehearsal scenes yet, I like your comment that perhaps the characters in the play correspond somehow to the GBs. That would be very Lynch.

    And Brighton and seeing Mr. Lynch? Yeah, you can definitely be excused for missing a week, especially if you share :).

  9. Amy

    The Sanza twins are so crazy annoying (in a good way tho!). Chains was either sending them away or killing them and he’s invested way too much to that!

    The dialogue and the settings are amazing! Someone else pointed out the quote about Locke needing to pace before the meeting with Sabetha and it just made me laugh out loud. I may not be too into the play, but I’m liking Espara, and, it would be great to go to Lashain!

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