First published in 2013 by Del Ray
- Format: Audiobook
- Narrator: Michael Page
- Listening Speed: 1x
- Listening time: 11 exciting days
- Back to the Gentleman Bastards again. I certainly didn’t need the incentive of a A Dance With Books Go Big or Go Home Reading Challenge to pick this up but it helped. The book starts out not too long after the previous one (spoilers for Red Seas Under Red Skies incoming) with Locke at death’s front gate and Jean tearing the world apart to find a cure. When all seems lost, a mysterious Bondsmagi (a member of organisation of mages who have regarded the pair with undying loathing since the first book) appears with the promise of a cure in return for their help in rigging the Magi elections. The Bondsmagi has rivals and they too have hired someone to help them rig the election – Sabetha, who shared Locke’s training with Father Chains and stole his heart in the process. A complicating factor indeed but, surely, nothing Locke Lamora can’t handle…
- Effectively balancing two storylines at once. One takes place in the present and involves the election at Karthain and the other is a flashback to the past, showing us Locke’s first meeting with Sabetha and their consequent capers together with the Gentleman Bastards. These include getting a theatre owner out of jail and putting on a play while keeping an amorous Count at arm’s length. If I had to pick between the two, I would say the past storyline was the better. The characters were great, the twists were entertaining and I was always excited to get to another Interlude to find out how Locke was going to get himself out of the latest problem. Not to mention, it reminded me how funny the Sanza twins are.
- Got to point out that I came into this not long after reading the second book but it’s been a long time since I read the first so I was a little puzzled as to the significance of Sabetha. So, I strongly recommend you read the first two books before you read this one to give you a strong context foundation and to give you one hell of a read!
- Usual brilliant writing style with an inventive quip appearing in almost every sentence and some amazingly funny dialogue. The banter between Jean and Locke is as excellent as ever but the interactions between Sabetha and Locke are equally entertaining. The pair clearly have a lot of history (more than was shown in the past storyline) and, though they make their differences and old wounds very plain, they would both rather like to reignite the old spark between them.
- Interesting location and colourful characters as usual (with some very funny names too) but, to me, they don’t stick in the mind as much as Captain Drakasha or Maxilan Stragos did. Perhaps, it’s because there are just too much of them competing for attention. Sabetha definitely sticks in the mind, though. She’s cunning, inventive and knows Locke all too well. I hope the author does a spin-off series around her. Maybe, call it ‘Gentlewoman Bastards’?
- Loath to say it but the election doesn’t feel nearly as engrossing and high-stakes as the previous plots. I loved all the pranks and counterpranks Locke and Sabetha play on one another but the fact that neither of them were as invested in this as Locke usually was in his schemes means the reader won’t be as invested as they were in the previous schemes either. That said, I rather liked the way the ‘love-interests-forced-to-fight-one-another’ trope was played out here for that reason. Yes, there’s clear leftover enmity but it’s not strong enough to result in pointless romance jeopardy.
- I don’t think the Big Revelation really fits in this book. With the past and present plotline, it was balanced out nicely but the sideplot with the mages and the Big Revelation was just a bit too much all in one book. So much so that not all of the latter could fit even in a 23 hour audiobook and it left me feeling rather cold and confused. It might have been a better idea to put it in another book later down the line and devote a bit more attention to it rather than flinging it at the read two thirds into the book.
- Not much of an immediate threat hanging over Locke and Jean’s heads throughout as there was in the last two books and there’s no dramatic revelation of what Locke had planned all along as there was in the last two novels either, which is another disappointment. I suppose not even Locke Lamora can pull off a magnificent turn of the tables all the time but he still came out looking as good as ever.
- Going out with a bit of an anticlimax for Locke but with a dramatic bang for other characters. All in all, not the best in the Gentleman Bastards series but still good enough to keep me invested and I know the next one will be better.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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