Monday, November 18, 2013

The Republic of Thieves

Title: The Republic of Thieves
Author: Scott Lynch
Series: Locke Lamora, book 3
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2013
Rating: 8/10

Review: In my second post on this blog, back in January 2009, I described the books I was looking forward to the most that year and The Republic of Thieves was pretty high on the list. However, it actually took another 4 years since then to actually publish the story, which meant that (1) I bought and downloaded the book on the day it was released and (2) when I did start reading the novel, I could barely remember anything that happened in the previous books.

Despite the second fact, I proceeded to read The Republic of Thieves and enjoyed it very much. The plot and structure of the novel is quite different from the preceding two books. First of all it's actually split into two separate narratives: one is an account of how Locke and Sabetha first meet and fell in love. The other takes place in present time and puts Locke and Sabetha in conflict with each other. The conflict consists of an election -- with Locke & Jean representing the Deep Roots party and Sabetha representing the Black Iris party. Presiding over the election are the Bondsmagi of Karthain -- whose politics are being represented and who ensure the continuing cooperation of Locke, Jean, and Sabetha.

Of course, with The Gentlemen Bastards running the election there is no end to intrigues, plays, farces, betrayals, and schemes of all sorts. It's fun to watch the rat race, and also fun to see Locke vulnerable to Sabetha, but fighting nonetheless. I enjoyed the relationship development there, though Sabetha herself wasn't quite as magical as one might have imagined her to be after all the hints dropped in previous books. Yet she makes sense as a character -- though she did create more drama than what was strictly necessary.

In the parallel story, Sabetha, Locke, Jean, and the Sanza twins travel together and join a theater troupe. Of course they find themselves in the middle of all sorts of trouble and have to extricate themselves and the troupe. Lynch did a great job portraying the inexperienced teens running the show and it's a really nice touch to see them mess up and be generally teen-ish.

One thing that didn't work particularly well were the transitions from one story to the other. I could imagine them working a bit better together, revealing just the right information for the current story using the story of the past. And I do think that may have been the author's intention, but I didn't feel that it was particularly effective. I liked both stories by themselves, but I didn't think they tied together well.

Overall, I think The Republic of Thieves was well done. It was fun, it moved quickly, there were some very good relationship development moments and some great trickery. I will be looking forward to the next book in the series.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Twelve Clues of Christmas

Title: The Twelve Clues of Christmas
Author: Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness, book 6
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2012

Review: I took a bit of a hiatus from the blog -- it's been a busy 4-6 weeks for me and I didn't read a whole lot meanwhile. However, I did finish The Twelve Clues of Christmas back in October without ever writing a review, so I thought I would catch up with a really short review here.

The book begins with Georgiana staying for holidays with Binky and his wife in Scotland and desperately looking for a way to leave. She finds an advertisement in a magazine, looking for a well-bred hostess to help a Christmas party and lands the job. Most of the events take place in a very picturesque English village, where strange murders begin the day Georgiana arrives and continue apace once a day. Of course, it just so happens that Darcy, Georgie's mother, and grandfather all end up at the village as well, so we have a full cast for the book.

Overall, it was a quick and satisfying book. Things progress quite a bit on the relationship front with Darcy, which is nice to see after so many books of will-he/will-he-not. There is a colorful cast of guests at the house and I very much enjoyed the cosy atmosphere of the novel. They eat extremely well, drink delicious hot drinks, play charades and sardines, and decorate the tree. I think the book plays quite a bit on general Christmas sentiment, but I enjoyed that and I really liked that the author actually included the rules for some of the arcane games they play in the novel as an appendix to the book. It sounds like something that would be fun to try.