The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch

In case you missed it, this is the third volume in a fantasy series. It started with The Lies of Locke Lamora, which deservedly got good reviews. While the next two haven’t been quite as good, that is no insult, because the bar set by the first one was pretty high. They’re all worthwhile.
Some notes on Republic:
● The double meaning of the title – every reviewer misses it, for some reason. In the flashback/backstory/whatever scenes they’re doing a play called The Republic of Thieves; in the “present” scenes they’re trying to steal an election. Get it? “Republic of Thieves”? Hello? Is this thing on? Can you guys hear me in the back? Lynch must feel frustrated that everyone seems to have missed this.
Speaking of missing things…
● How did Lynch miss the Memento-like possibilities of the alternating time sequences? That is, things could be seen one way in the “present” then seen in another way in the light of a subsequent revelation about the past. To make up a random example: Suppose that in the “present” in Karthain Locke says to Sabetha, “Your talk is strong but your action is weak.” Then suppose in the next scene in the past Sabetha says to Locke, “Your talk is strong but your action is weak.” This would re-frame Locke’s “present” statement to Sabetha as not just a random remark, but a throwing back in her face of a remark she’d made to him in the past. Seriously, how did Lynch miss this? I actually just assumed this would happen when “present” Sabetha asks Locke to kiss her in the way that she used to like (nibbles at her neck). I kept waiting for him to discover that she liked being kissed that way in the past sequences – Would he discover it by accident? By deliberate experimentation? Because he’d overheard another woman saying she liked being kissed that way? – but it never happened.
● Why is Locke such a damned wuss about Sabetha? If you want to make a pass at a chick, just make a pass. Don’t make a federal case out of it. (If you think you need advice on how to do it – you actually don’t, but if it makes you feel better – here is something I wrote for women on seducing men; much of the advice is reversible.)
● Miscellaneous points about this series:
– A good setting. A lot of the scenery was built by no-one-knows-who. They’re basically (for all anyone knows) a non-human species that departed the world a long time ago, leaving behind only buildings made of an unscratchable glass that humans can’t replicate. Lynch doesn’t succumb to the trap of “simulating the tectonic plate movements of your fictional planet several billion years before the story begins,” as he puts it. He just gets going with the story.
– The sheer craziness of it all, the sheer over-the-top-ness, is great. At one point (in the first book), a kid serving as a lookout for his fellow con men has to distract the cops so his friends can get away. Not knowing what else to do, he simply jumps out of the third-story window he’s perched in, into the middle of the street. It works, though he almost kills himself. The entire novel is like this.
– Lynch knows how to show you a bad guy. The damned arrogance of the Bondsmages will set your blood boiling. The attitude is, “We have magic and might makes right, therefore we have the right to do whatever we want to people who don’t have magic.” And they’re deliberately rude about it; they unnecessarily add insult to injury as they kill. I really hope that by the end of the series they’ll all be dead. Republic gives us encouraging signs in this regard.
– Keeping you guessing. Lynch has a willingness to whack major characters that surpasses even Joss Whedon’s. Be warned: it’s not always fun.
– Stylistic tic: The italics in dialogue. Lynch changed his mind about this later, thinking it was excessive, but I always thought it was just part of the Scott Lynch style. I don’t have the books in front of me, so to make up another random example:

Where most authors would write,

“If you’re going to pick pockets while you’re drunk, at least don’t choose a cop’s pocket!”

Lynch would write,

“If you’re going to pick pockets while you’re drunk, at least don’t choose a cop’s pocket!”

Actually, he’d write,

“If you’re going to pick pockets while you’re drunk, you lamentable fuck-brain, at least don’t choose a cop’s pocket! If you do that ever again, you leprous sore on a witch’s tit, I’ll sodomize you with a splintery mast from one of the Duke’s warships!”

Which reminds me, if you have an aversion to rough language, you probably shouldn’t even look in the general direction of any book by Sco – No, don’t look! Your eyes! Wash your eyes with lye, quick!

Fun stuff.