I freaked out when I saw this book was dropped! I've definitely been waiting.
And this book does pick up where Red Skies left off, leaving Locke a sliver away from death and Jean panicking out of his mind to fix him. Of course, only Bondsmagi have the solution and it's just another game they're thrown into. Heyo, they've survived anything, they should be fine, win, and prosper. Right? A certain Lady Bastard might disagree when they find out she's their opponent.
Sabetha. Ah, we finally meet her. The only person who turns silver-tongue Locke into a stuttering idiot. I am impressed that I don't hate her. I say that with all seriousness. Usually authors who only hint at potential women can't write them to meet up to the expectations that we've set. Sabetha comes very close to what I would have imagined. And Locke's stupid silly obsessive nature and love makes up for the rest. I love that she was written in such a way where she has reasons to dislike him, reasons to say no, where she's not perfect by any means, etc. She actually has personality, even though most of it is not entirely friendly. I can see why a lot of people won't like her, especially since most will root for Locke (and she turns him into a 7 year boy, ha). But I'd rather have the character with character flaws than the one who is perfect and boring. I can't say Sabetha is one of my favorite characters because she's still barely penciled in and shaded as a character. I haven't seen enough of her to say much besides she is a strong, female character that very closely lives up to expectations (which were high to begin with, so there is that).
I must say though... Locke did get a little annoying after a while when he doesn't have any confidence. Poor guy.
The other characters aren't really worth talking about because Locke and Jean don't really changes. And the rest aren't here to stay and play - they're just accessories for this one book. Oh, except for the flashbacks.
I loved reading about their younger days! And I was glad to have the Sanzas back. I really liked the two of them as a comedic relief pair. And seeing their dynamics when they were younger, thinking about Chains's difficulties with pubescent and hormonal Bastards, haha. It's great. But as much as I adored reading about the whole gang when they were younger, the acting stint arc was just so-so. He put too many pages of actual play dialogue for me to be happy. I rolled my eyes at the stupid lines and skipped on to the real plot.
I didn't like this book as much as the previous two. I think it's because the plot had less thought. Lies of Locke Lamora was meticulously planned out and it was fantastic. Plot after scheme after counterplot and betrayal and lies. It really was crazy. And then Red Skies got a little less intricate. And then Republic of Thieves definitely had the least amount of intricate plot. This was an "introduce Sabetha" book. The amount of plot was mostly paragraphs hinting at Locke's plans. But nothing truly deceptive or deep. Which made me feel a little lacking because I wanted to be blown out of the water with his ingenuity. I'm not entirely sure if that's fair of me because I know coming up with schemes means the author has to seriously plot something out and sometimes you run out of crazy ideas... but as a reader, I was still a little disappointed.
I also didn't like how Locke's true background was revealed. I thoroughly enjoyed book one because of how anonymous he was, even after the entire book ended. But here, the mysteries are starting to be peeled back, and it's not as wonderful and mysterious as it seemed from the far away distance of book one. ... I think I'm just afraid of how the next few books are going to turn out with the reveal of his background. I don't want it to follow too many tropisms. But already, it seems like it's heading in that direction. Ahhh!! I just hope Lynch knows what he's doing.
And (spoilers) pooh on the last chapter. I don't entirely approve of ending books with the rise of the villain for the next book.
Like Red Skies, book #3 only gets 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3. It was good and I liked it, but in the end, it's the plot that has to sell me and I really only bought two and half stars of it.
Definitely read if you've already become acquainted with Locke Lamora. And I definitely recommend the first book to anyone who's wondering what this series is all about.