In past and present, Locke must confront his feelings for Sabetha. In simpler times in Camorr, Chains sets an unexpected test for his protegées; whereas the complexity of working for the Bondsmagi may be dwarfed by the traps Sabetha has had time to set for her fellow Bastards in Karthain…

1. Just how awkward must it be living with four highly intelligent, rather bored teenagers trained to take advantage of everyone around them? What do you make of Chains’s stratagem – and of how the gang respond to it?

I cackled through Chains’s little speech, but I was rather touched by how the gang all wilt under his disapproval. They all place such value on his regard – they really respect him, but I think he’s probably right that scolding them might simmer them down for a couple of days, but it wouldn’t last. Sending them off with a challenge to sink their teeth into will give him some much-needed time off and distract them from their bickering and obsessions (err, maybe).

I loved that after the initial flurry of panic, they instantly bonded and got down to planning. It proved to me just how well Chains knows them – and what a good job he has done moulding them to his vision.

 

2. The Bondsmagi of both factions seem very keen to see a proper contest. Do you think this is just part of their entertainment, or do they have ulterior motives?

I have a default setting of never trust a Bondsmage. It feels a little as though there’s a certain amount of obfuscation for the sake of it wherever they are concerned: so for me it feels more likely that either Patience is aware of the death threat (and it’s a case of ‘if nobody mentions it we can pretend I don’t know’), or that the Bondsmage who threatened Locke was actually from the ‘other’ side.

That said, if I were a Bondsmage (even if I were Patience!), I’d be keen to ensure that the antagonists remain opposed. After all, Locke and Jean are the only people to have bested a Bondsmage in forever, and they brought down the Archon of Tal Verrar for an encore. Regardless of what powers the Bondsmagi wield, I’d want them entirely focused on the challenge in hand – they’re dangerous to have around if they’re bored or antagonised… and just imagine what mischief they might manage if they teamed up with Sabetha!

 

3. Is Sabetha fair to Locke under the circumstances (both past and present)?

Oh hell no. Although – I’ve been in the situation of living with someone who desperately wants more from you than you’re prepared to give, and it’s awful. There’s constant pressure, and even though you can have good times when everyone relaxes as friends it takes nothing but a look or the wrong comment for the atmosphere to gain an unwanted edge. So I do have a huge amount of sympathy for teenage Sabetha.

…which still doesn’t make her sharp-edged word games fair, exactly. On the other hand, it does give her the opportunity to point out a heap of assumptions and privileges that Locke needs to confront, which I can only applaud.

But it’s certainly not fair to take advantage of him in Karthain as she does (and how!). That’s cold. On the other hand, if Locke were remotely wise or cautious, he’d never have fallen for it. So really he only has himself to blame, yes? So I may not think she’s fair, but I admire her ruthlessness.

 

4. Affections aside, what do you make of Sabetha’s tactics? Both she and Locke assume they will win – who is your money on after this opening round of hostilities?

I can’t answer this as I’ve read it before and know the outcome 🙂

I admire Sabetha’s opening volley though: lots of small inconveniences. Each must take some setting up, but she’s had enough of a head start to sort them out – and keeping the boys busy putting out lots of small fires wins her more time to set up the next round – or work on something bigger. The real question is whether she’s set more fires on the assumption the boys will somehow get out of their current predicament – or whether she’ll make the mistake of resting on her laurels. Surely not. She knows exactly what they’re capable of…

 

Any other comments?

I am intrigued by the contrast between angry young Sabetha’s comments to Locke about his unexamined privilege and the array of off-hand everyday-sexist jokes in The Republic of Thieves. Locke’s verbal assault on the spies sat in Josten’s were uncomfortably focused on their mothers for my liking; likewise the Sanzas (to be fair entirely likely and understandable) obsession with sex. Either I’m a bit sensitive at the moment, or the volume has been deliberately turned up vs previous volumes (as I don’t recall so many comments that made me grit my teeth previously) – perhaps to highlight Sabetha’s commentary?

 

Take a tour of our responses this week:

  • Wendy and Tiara at The Bibliosanctum
  • Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
  • Sarah at The Illustrated Page
  • and John in the comments 🙂

 

Discussion schedule 

We’ll be reading roughly 100 pages per week:

Want to get in on the action? It’s not to late to join us – just leave a comment below and get reading!