The third book in Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard sequence moves the conflict to yet another part of the world, explores the intricate politics of Karthain, and delivers the long-awaited return of Locke's love interest, Sabetha.
The narrative again follows two alternating timelines: the present, in which Locke and Jean strike a deal with a faction of the Bondsmagi to save Locke from a deadly poison. In return, the Gentleman Bastards agree to work on the faction's behalf in a political game (rigging elections). In essence, the two opposing factions of Karthain make a bunch of non-mages their pawns for sport, with bragging rights the only prize. Locke and Jean are well-suited to vote tampering, and they're given almost limitless resources as well. Yet they're opposed by the selected agent for the other faction: someone who has their training and knows all of their best moves. Sabetha.
In the flashback timeline, we follow the juvenile Gentleman Bastards as they spend a season with an acting troupe (yet another training exercise courtesy of Chains). We see the young Locke meeting Sabetha, who's older and more capable and equal to him in every possible way. We don't get to see Chains again, but we spend more time with the twins. It's bittersweet, because I love seeing them in their prime, and my heart breaks when I remember their fate.
Admittedly, some of the plotlines are less interesting to me -- like the machinations of the Bondsmagi, and the story of the play itself -- that I found more distracting than entertaining.
Overall, I wasn't as glued to this book at every moment as I remember being for LIES (book 1), but it was still a fantastic read. I'm really looking forward to the next one.