Read a full summary of The Republic of Thieves, book #3 of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Republic of Thieves, then you are in the right place!
Gentleman Bastard Series
#1 The Lies of Locke Lamora
#2 Red Seas Under Red Skies
#3 The Republic of Thieves
Not Yet Published:
#4 The Thorn of Emberlain
#5 The Ministry of Necessity
#6 The Mage and the Master Spy
#7 Inherit the Night
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Republic of Thieves?
There are many flashbacks from Locke’s time with both the Thiefmaker and Chains that establish his love for Sabetha (aka Beth). It starts as a crush when he first sees her as a boy of six or so. He thinks she drowned but then sees her several years later as a new pupil at Father Chains’. The drowning was staged so she could escape from the Thiefmaker and join Chains.
Sabetha seems indifferent toward Locke until Chains sets up a challenge between his two star pupils. Locke fakes being sick and gets picked up by local law enforcement during the challenge. Sabetha scraps her near win to try to save him, not knowing it was a ruse. Chains calls the contest a tie.
A few years down the road—when Chains’ five trainees (Locke, Jean, Sabetha, Calo, and Galdo) are angsty teenagers—he decides he’s tired of their arguing and complaining. He sends them off to a nearby city to work in an acting troupe. They have to organize travel on their own and come up with aliases for the journey.
Locke tries to have a heart-to-heart with Sabetha about his feelings for her. Her response is different that he might’ve expected; she says they need to wait until this journey is over before they tackle the weighty subject. She leaves him something to think on to work up a response to: how she feels after having him take over as group leader since he arrived.
Their mission is derailed when they discover Moncraine, the acting troupe leader Chains sent them to find, has been jailed for assaulting a man in a bar. So Locke and crew must come up with a way to break him out if they have any hope of completing Chains’ mission. They do, of course, and make a deal with his victim, Boulidazi. This man had been trying to buy shares in Moncraine’s acting company to fund The Republic of Thieves, the play Moncraine had intended to run this season.
Moncraine dives head first into casting and practicing the play. Sabetha is cast as the lead, and Locke is dying to be cast opposite her as there are several kissing scenes. Even though his acting skills are decent, he doesn’t get the part. After he mopes around for a while, Jean encourages him to do the mature thing and go talk to Sabetha.
Locke finds her on a rooftop overlooking the city and pours his heart out. He even adequately addresses her concerns about his natural leadership and how it won the others over soon after his arrival. But then Sabetha trips up on a meaningless observation: how much Locke likes her red hair. It seems like she just needed a reason to get mad and reject him. It’s actually a legitimate concern because men everywhere think the blood of redheads can cure ailments, and she keeps her hair dyed to avoid this fate.
It’s hard for the beautiful Sabetha to fly under the radar, and their patron Boulidazi soon takes notice of her even though her locks are darkened to brown. Locke pretends he’s her cousin and makes a deal to talk Boulidazi up to her if he can get Locke’s role switched to the lead opposite Sabetha in the play.
Sabetha is coy about Boulidazi’s advances until she finally has to agree to an overnight stay after the play concludes. She says she’s too wrapped up in preparations to stay with him until then. The sexually frustrated Boulidazi goes to Jenora, the stagehand in charge of props and costumes, that night. He forces himself upon her, and Jenora stabs him with scissors to avoid being raped.
Locke and Sabetha discover the crime shortly thereafter and want to help Jenora cover it up. They’ll need to get the whole acting troupe involved. If Locke’s plan is successful, the show will go on, they’ll be able to show an actor disguised as Boulidazi on stage, they’ll all get the money they’re due, and then they’ll place the already deceased Boulidazi’s in a fiery stable to establish a different cause of death.
The play is a hit, and everything with the plan goes fairly smoothly, with only a small adjustment needed here and there, until Moncraine makes away with all of the money. Locke and crew quickly devise a plan to frame Moncraine for Boulidazi’s murder since they’d had the recent run-in. The plan works.
The five gather with the rest of the acting troupe for one last time before saying goodbye. Jean spends his time with Jenora, and Locke and Sabetha spend the night together.
In present day, Locke is close to succumbing to the poison Stragos administered to him in the previous book. Jean is healed because Locke slipped him the one antidote they had, so he is healthy and searching Lashain, where the two men are currently holed up, for a cure. He’s spent every last coin they have on every black market physiker and every reputable physiker in Lashain, but no one can heal Locke.
Jean saved the best physiker for last, but he’s not even allowed onto the property. He finally breaks in and kidnaps the man, but even he can’t heal Locke. Locke continues to worsen, and all hopes seem to be lost. Then a mage named Patience appears. It turns out that she’s the Falconer’s mother, and she says she can use her magic to heal Locke.
Locke and Jean are suspicious of her motives at first because they maimed her son, but she ends up convincing them she’s actually telling the truth. She’ll heal Locke if he and Jean will help throw the election of the nineteen Konseil representatives in Karthain. Mages aren’t allowed to personally interfere in the election, but they all use underhanded methods to try. She knows Locke and Jean are masters of trickery and schemes, and she thinks they’re her only hope to swing the upcoming election the way she wants it to go.
Patience whisks the men away on a boat and will heal Locke while they travel to Karthain. She says it will be a nasty business and not easy to watch, but Jean insists on staying with Locke for the duration. The procedure works, and the men set to work pulling together their new job with Patience and the Deep Roots party.
They have almost unlimited Deep Roots funds to work with and put together wardrobes to become gentlemen once again. They also have Nikoros, their new right hand man supplied by the Deep Roots, to basically be at their beck and call. They should have everything they need to work the election in their favor. There’s only one hang up: The person working the other side of the election. Patience reveals it’s Sabetha.
Sabetha makes many plays on them, but the men intercept them all as they begin to put things in place for the election. They unwittingly come into contact with her posing as an elderly pickpocket attempting to get Locke thrown into jail for stealing her purse. Locke and Jean pull a scam and get the purse transferred from Locke’s pocket back to hers. But she has the last laugh, planting a note in Locke’s pocket when he transferred the purse back to hers. It’s what Sabetha wanted all along; her purpose was to pass along a letter inviting Locke and Jean to a private meeting with her.
It feels good to all three of them to be reunited. They discuss things that they’ve been through during their separation as well as their current situation. Sabetha sends Jean away and seduces Locke. She has a short-acting poison on her neck, and when Locke kisses her there after she tempts him, he’s knocked out.
Locke wakes up on a ship out to sea with a rough-looking Jean in the same cabin. He tried to fight Sabetha’s men to no avail. The ship is well-equipped to the point of luxury, and they discover they’ll sail in comfort until the election is over. The ship is due back in Karthain shortly thereafter. This isn’t acceptable, of course, so the men look for a plan to escape.
Locke eventually secures a piece of glass from an intentionally broken wine bottle and glass. They wait for a stormy night when the ship is rocking and the crew is busy, and Locke and Jean use the glass to cut away the ropes securing the lifeboat. They both pitch over the side of the boat, and they must land just right or else their ankle weights will pull them to the bottom of the sea. Locke ends up having to pull Jean aboard the lifeboat, no easy task.
Back in Karthain, Locke and Jean resume their scheming. Locke’s first visit is to Sabetha. He storms her stronghold and insists on seeing her. They end up agreeing to pursue at least a friendship in the midst of their battle. Sabetha agrees to go to dinner with Locke. Even though they both keep scheming against each other during the day, things get a little easier and more back to normal between them at each successive dinner.
At their third dinner, a home-cooked meal planned by Locke, a surprise guest arrives. Patience interrupts a passionate kissing session to deliver some surprising news: Locke’s true background and name. Some of it is probably true because it tugs at memories of Locke’s, but he thinks at least part of it is made up to dramatize everything. Sabetha is hurt to discover that Jean knew Locke’s real name but she didn’t.
After all their scheming, the ballots are finally cast in Karthain. Jean and Locke go to a private loft to hear the tally with Sabetha. It’s a close race, and Black Iris ends up winning by one seat. But then Lovaris, one of the Black Iris party members, addresses the crowd and says he’s become an independent. This basically makes him the most important man on the Kounseil because he’ll be the deciding vote on many matters. Locke arranged this, of course.
The mages cause an explosion that ravages part of Karthain. A few of the mages not in on the scheme try to fight, but it’s to no avail. The “war” is over in nine minutes. The mages are leaving Karthain, and it will be defenseless since it has relied solely on their protection from surrounding nations for many years now.
Locke wakes to Sabetha’s side of the bed being empty. He can sense someone else is in the room but knows it’s not her. It’s Patience. She’s come to tell Locke what she told Sabetha just a little while ago. First, they won’t be receiving any money for their election scheming, and they’ll need to get out of town quickly to avoid the invaders that are doubtless on their way.
Locke asks Patience why she did this. She said it was all for her son, the Falconer. Locke asks why she didn’t just break them some other way for the sake of her son. Why did she go to all of this trouble with the election and with Sabetha? She says some wise members of her order many foresaw the method she should use years ago.
Patience asks Locke to look at the painting she showed Sabetha that she believes is ultimately why she left. It’s the only known portrait of Lamor Acanthus and his wife (Locke’s parents). Locke’s mother was redheaded, no doubt perpetuating Sabetha’s insecurities about why Locke loves her. She skipped town after seeing the painting.
Before she leaves, Patience gives Locke a prophecy. She has saw the following regarding him: “Three things must you take up and three things must you lose before you die: a key, a crown, a child. You will die when the silver rain falls.” Locke acts as if he doesn’t believe her. Jean says they should go after Sabetha, but Locke has vowed to trust Sabetha and give her freedom if that’s what she truly wants.
How did The Republic of Thieves end?
Epilogue: Patience pays a visit to her son, the Falconer. She has kept him at a private residence for the three years since Locke and Jean cut out his tongue and cut off his fingers. He can’t speak, so Patience must communicate with him through his mind. He’s shocked to hear how long it’s been since his injury. He’s been kept in a coma-like state, and Patience had a man stationed there to care for his every need. But there’s no love lost between mother and son.
Patience reminds him how he got into this predicament and by whom. She tells him what happened in Karthain and that all of his close associates are dead after the explosion and battle. She tells him all mages are fleeing the city.
Patience tells the Falconer she’ll kill him as a mercy if he wants her to. If not, she’ll fund him to live here with the man to take care of him for the rest of his life. He chooses life. The man also will have poison powders to give the Falconer should he ever change his mind. Patience leaves.
The Falconer wills himself to stand up and walk around. He discovers a bowl of dreamsteel, a powerful element that’s often used as a decoration in mage households. Somehow, the dreamsteel responds to him and reforms his right hand in a silvery fashion. He drinks the rest of the contents, and his tongue is reformed.
The Falconer uses his renewed powers to kill his caretaker and then goes outside to summon birds. He ends up with 150 crows at his disposal, and he send them to kill his mother. Then he vows to get revenge on the two men who maimed him three years ago.
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