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Locke Lamora is one of my favorite characters ever. He's suave and debonair, the consummate trickster, always with one more card to play when his plans fall apart. He has more swagger than his modest frame merits, can handle any unforeseen situation with aplomb, but loses his poise endearingly in the presence of Sabetha, his red-haired lady love and onetime partner in crime. He's a master of colorful profanity, eruptions of which had me giggling like a fourth-grader with a whoopee cushion. And...he's facing certain death as this third book in Scott Lynch's brilliant series opens. 

Locke's dealings in the first two volumes of the series have left him and his best friend Jean in dire straits. He made a powerful enemy and there seems to be no way to skirt death—until a mysterious mage makes an offer Jean decides they can't refuse. The mage may be able to save Locke, but only if he agrees to help influence a Karthani election. One other catch: the opposition has enlisted Sabetha to work against him.

I was beyond excited to meet the long-awaited Sabetha, who is coyly mentioned but doesn't appear as a character in the first two books, and the lady did not disappoint. Lynch uses alternating chapters to tell the current story of the election game alongside flashbacks to Locke's childhood, when he met Sabetha for the first time. It's like getting two romantic storylines for the price of one. I was practically fanning myself from the heat given off by the chemistry between these two. Sabetha is the only person who can match Locke in fire and cunning.

Lynch's books are long (this one clocks in at 650 pages in hardcover), but they're effortless to read. His writing sings off the page. The worldbuilding gets more intricate and intriguing with each installment. And no matter what the adventure, Locke and his merry band of thieves are enthralling. Lynch could write a book about Locke castrating pigs, and I'd read it avidly, laughing to the point of tears.

Haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Locke Lamora? See my recommendation for the first two books here, and rectify this horrible wrong as soon as humanly possible.