Monday, November 11, 2013

Read-Along: Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Part 3

It’s time for part three of the read-along of Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves!  Lynn of Lynn’s Books provided this week’s questions.  I fully expect the Sabetha issue to be a polarizing subject again this week, and I can’t wait to see the different opinions! 

As usual, there are spoilers ahead!

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 think that was the kindest, gentlest kidnapping I’ve ever heard described.  They were sentenced to a peaceful, pleasant voyage, with good food and good wine.  I can see how frustrating that would be, from Jean and Locke’s point of view, but still, it’s obvious she didn’t want to hurt them.  From a narrative point of view, it also gives Locke a chance to get himself back to fighting fit. 

As for how she executed it, Locke really does get a bit stupid around Sabetha (and Jean was not much better this time).  Looking at her actions, she wasn’t even trying to not be suspicious.  She invited them to the stronghold of the Black Iris. Ordinarily, Locke would have insisted on neutral ground.  She told Jean there were twenty armed men in the next room.  If Locke hadn’t been so thrown by seeing her again, he would have noticed that it was a bit odd for her to go straight from conversation to requesting he kiss her in a particular place. 

It seemed almost like she was giving them as many chances as she could to break her plan, because she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to go through with it.  But they fell for everything, questioned nothing, and she put them out to sea.

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? 

This kind of puts me in the mind of a prettier version of the Dead Marshes (Tolkien), actually.  I wonder if it actually is related, and this is the location of some catastrophic Eldren sea battle.  I think this ties to the Eldren, their disappearance, and the afterlife, but perhaps not in a way that will never be explained.  I think it is safe to say, though, that going towards the lights would be a bad idea.

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 was actually surprised that they didn’t pick up that she was the pickpocket.  I mean, ‘G.B.’, guys, come on.  She was basically announcing herself.

When they officially met, Jean and Sabetha’s hug (as opposed to Locke and Sabetha’s hand greeting) made a lot of sense to me.  She and Jean were friends, so they didn’t have to worry about the implications a hug might impart. 

The conversation with Locke, though, was a little painful to read.  I don’t know yet if Sabetha has changed much in the intervening years, but Locke most certainly has, from his misadventures in the first two books.  He’s a much less carefree rogue these days, though he is still a rogue.  It seemed to me that Sabetha was trying to interact with Locke as if he were still the same person she left, so there was a mismatch in the conversational tone.  She has no idea what matters to him now, or what is really, emphatically not a suitable topic for light banter with him (such as Bug’s death). 

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? 

I think this bodes pretty well awful for them.  The justice system seems to be essentially, “Whatever the rich, titled people say, goes.” I suppose that’s much the same everywhere, but it seems a little blatant here. Given that they’re conning one of those rich, titled people, they are going to have to watch their step.

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 don’t think it’s a step out of character in terms of the novels, since a lot of the books have been about Locke and company taking on new roles and identities.  The pirate thing was a much further step out of character for Locke and Jean (which is why it went so spectacularly badly!).  I can see that Jean is not really a natural actor, but I think that Locke and Sabetha, at least, should have some serious talent in that area. 

I am kind of betting Locke will decide to trick or convince Alondo to give him the role of Aurin (assuming the theatre doesn’t grind to a halt after the end of the last section).  If the play does go on, I think they may well restore Moncraine’s fortunes, and Chains’s confidence in them.

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?

No particular likes or dislikes so far.  Boulidazi really doesn’t seem so bad a guy, in some ways.  Moncraine seems like a guy who has let his pride and stubbornness ruin him, so hopefully the embarrassment of having these kids waltz in and set his affairs to order will help him get back on his feet.  We know from Boulidazi that he used to be really good, so maybe he’ll be able to climb his way back to the person he once was.

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?

Such a short, yet complicated question.  I will start with my ideas on the conversation between Locke and Sabetha.  It was going so well, and then it went so wrong!  I think this is the biggest indication we’ve seen so far that Lynch’s world is not as egalitarian as it might seem, the Spider and Nazca notwithstanding.  Based on Sabetha’s comments, this is a world where it is very commonplace for women to be trafficked for sexual purposes. And now to Locke’s misstep…

First off, one of the major obstacles to this romance in Sabetha’s mind was that she believed Locke saw her as an object of desire, not as a potential active partner in romance, with her own thoughts and feelings.  The whole series of Espara conversations slowly worked them around to a place where Locke realized he was objectifying her, and made an effort to really understand her perspective. She then began to seriously consider the idea of being with him romantically. 

And then he comes out with, “Oh, also, you know the thing that loads of people fetishize about you?  That is totally my fetish, and that’s why I like you!” (That is translated into Sabetha-perception, since I realize that he just meant to compliment her hair.) I think he’ll be able to explain himself eventually, but oh, Locke, what a way to accidentally tread into sensitive territory and exacerbate existing trust issues :(.  It doesn’t help that he’s a con artist, so her automatic reaction was to believe that everything else he’d said was just part of a con to get in her pants!

On the topic of Boulidazi, that was an incredibly cruel place to have a section break!  I can’t decide how much I think he heard, from those last few lines.  Did he just hear enough to realize that Lucaza had a thing for Verena?  Or did he hear enough to find out that Locke and Sabetha were not Camorri nobles at all?  I can’t wait to see how Locke will talk his way out of this one!


  1. The kindest kidnapping?! Well actually that cruise did sound really nice. I'm a bit of a foodie and having that chef aboard sounded like heaven!
    I thought Sabetha's trickery was cruel though. She used Locke's feelings for her to drug him and kidnap him. Efficient, but totally underhanded.

    Oh, this section ended on such a cliffhanger! And I'm trying to pace myself for this read-along so that I don't read ahead before I answer the questions. The willpower I displayed by stopping at the end of Aurin and Amadine was like a personal achievement.

    1. Fair enough, the trickery part was pretty cruel. The cruise sounded great to me, though! If only they didn't have that election to win, they could have relaxed :).

      And yeah, it took a lot of willpower for me to not turn to the next page, too. I don't know how the flashback story manages to be so suspenseful! We more or less know how it's going to come out in the end, even.

  2. totally. If i'm kidnapped by my rival, I would prefer to spend my isolation out to sea, on a luxury yacht, eating gourmet food all day long. what a great vacation, now that I think about it!

    it was the four cornered hat that gave her away when she was pickpocketing them. It was a portion of her outfit from earlier in the book that stuck in my mind, it's like "how often would a four cornered hat show up??"

    If Locke manages to get the Aurin role, at least he'd be able to kiss Sabetha on stage, and there'd be nothing Boulidazi could do to stop him! oh crap, i hope Boulidazi doesn't want that part. . . .

    1. I am apparently bad at details, I didn't really think much about the hat. That does seem like a pretty particular shape.

      That would be an interesting development, if Boulidazi agrees to play along as long as he gets to be Aurin in the play. Locke would not be happy about that arrangement at all (and neither would Moncraine, I bet).

  3. I thought the kidnapping bit was hilarious. It came out of nowhere and was so well-prepared and thought out. You're totally right about Locke and Jean not thinking through the initial meeting. The whole thing was on enemy territory but maybe they thought she'd play fair...

    I've never bought the idea that Lynch’s world is egalitarian as far as gender and sex poitics goes. Women are still looked at like dolls by most men and judging by Sabetha's descriptions and reaction to her red hair, much worse can happen. It was a chilling bit once I got over my surprise at her overreaction.

    And yeah! What a cliff-hanger!

    1. I think they probably did expect her to play fair, but it seems like their trade doesn't really include fairness most of the time :).

      Yeah, I was mostly thinking how women can attain powerful positions in the world, but I agree that we've seen the non-egalitarian aspects in smaller ways throughout the series.

  4. That kidnapping is not a bad way to travel at all; all the luxuries one could want! You're right, they are off their game a bit. I'm cutting them slack but they need to pick up some pieces now that they're back on land.

    Locke, I swear, the only person he ever seems to get tongue tied around is Sabetha. He means well, it's just that nothing he says comes out right. Poor guy. But! We do know that it eventually goes his way, even if we haven't gotten there yet. :)

    1. Yeah, he's so smooth and persuasive with random strangers, but with Sabetha it's all out the window :). I have been curious to see how they eventually work things out.