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Headscratchers / Gentleman Bastard

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  • With the release of the third book, almost all Bondsmagi questions are answered, so they are summed up here:
    • Why didn't Capa Barsavi hire a Bondsmagi the moment he suspected he was in grave danger?
      • Because the Bondsmagi leaders debate and discuss contracts before agreeing to them, so it would likely take weeks or even months.
      • Added to that, they probably would have refused the contract too since it would bring two of them into direct conflict with one another. They aren't particularly friendly even to one another, but I imagine that'd be a strong point against providing Barsavi any help.
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    • How can the Bondsmagi function if they are so expensive? Very few people would be able to pay for their services.
      • The Bondsmagi don't need the money. They have their own city and can take anything they want. They do the contracts to exert their power while limiting their influence.
    • Why wouldn't someone hire a Bondsmagi to rob Requin?
      • The cost would likely defeat the purpose as the price of the contract must be suitable. Furthermore, if the Bondsmagi had dealings with Requin they would likely not take the contract due to a conflict of interests. Furthermore, as Requin was holding money for many nobles of Tal Verra, robbing it would have destabilized the economic and political situation of the city-state, which would have harmed the Bondsmagi's assets, holdings, and influence.
    • Why don't the Bondsmagi rule the world if they are so powerful?
      • To paraphrase a bondsmagi in the third book "You are so beyond a pig that they can't stop you. So why haven't you taken over the farm and declared yourself ruler of all pigs?"
      • Furthermore, the bondsmagi believe that the reason the Eldren fell were that they were too fast and loose with their magic and were destroyed by an external force. The current system is designed to maximize Bondsmagi power and influence while limiting them from being too noticeable to any outside forces.
  • Speaking of the Sinspire—-I wonder if all that cash is really there, or if Requin, being the smart cookie he is, has most of it (except for enough to cover the Sinspire's cash outlays) invested somewhere? He'd probably think it was a wonderfully funny joke for someone to go to all the trouble to break on in there, only to find that there wasn't nearly as much money as rumor had claimed.
    • It would certainly make sense, and fit Requin's character. The Sinspire is as much a bank as it is a casino, if I recall correctly, and Requin doesn't seem like the type to hesitate on making money by giving out loans.
    • Based upon the magnitude of the Sinspire (as a bank and a casino), it is unlikely they have ALL the money there. But even if it is just a small percentage (enough to handle someone withdrawing the entirety of their largest single account, for example), it would probably be a massive amount greater than any thief had stolen before.
      • And based on the descriptions of the vault, it makes perfect sense to keep all the money there. The vault is unbreakable. Locke and Jean are quite possibly the two most skilled burglars in the world and they consider even looking at that vault to be suicidal. And again, it needs to be said again, Requin makes a decent side income renting space in that vault to people who don't feel regular banks are safe enough.
      • It is likely all located in the vault. It's mentioned in the book that he doesn't offer interest, and his customers pay him to safeguard their things in his vault. He's already making money, and as mentioned above Locke thinks breaking into the vault is impossible.
  • Locke's real name - five syllables, something that surprised Jean - any guesses? Are we supposed to be able to figure out what it is?
    • It's revealed in the third book: Lamor Acanthus. Although even that may notnote  be his true name...
    • Lamor Acanthus sounds perfectly ordinary, so it souldn'r surprise Jean, whose reaction was like it isn't a human name at all, but derogatory nickname at best. Maybe it's Gentleman Bastard?
  • How would a middle-class kid like Jean Tannen end up with the Thiefmaker in the first place? Could it be that his family's demise was "arranged," and his relatives figured that with him out of the picture, they'd inherit?
    • There isn't anything in the books to back this up. We do know the Thiefmaker was chummy with some of the City Watch. It's likely one of his contacts informed him of the educated recently orphaned Jean. It doesn't seem like he stayed with the Thiefmaker long, so he probably got him specifically to sell to Chains.
  • Who the hell was Merrain working for? At first glance, her veiled references to her “masters” and the fact that they are ruthless enough to have her murder innocent bystanders just so Stragos won’t continue to use Locke and Jean (which also means she’s secretly working against Stragos’ plans no matter what he thinks) seem to indicate that she works for the bondsmagi. But then she tries to prevent Locke from getting hold of the antidote to make sure “the troublesome anomalies Kosta and de Ferra were as good as dead”, and actually killing them makes no sense in light of Patience’s plans for them. And also, the way Merrain talks to Stragos about the information he got from the bondsmagi (which didn’t sound like she came as part of the package), and especially the way Stragos will freely discuss his plans to gain power and overthrow the bondsmagi with her, making it sound like he thinks her masters support that goal, make it seem unlikely that she’s an agent of the bondsmagi. Plus, she doesn’t seem to know Locke’s and Jean’s real identities any more than Stragos does, and you’d think the bondsmagi would inform their own agent more thoroughly. And surely, if Patience and her faction had sent her to Tal Verrar, that would have been mentioned in the third book at least in passing, especially since Merrain got away in the second book. So, is there some kind of Illuminati group in this setting, bent on causing “more blood than anyone’s seen in two hundred years. All we can do is hope that by setting things off we can ensure that others reap most of the trouble.”?
    • She's definitely not with the Bondsmagi - too much evidence against it. As for who she actually works for, Scott Lynch has the series scheduled to go for seven books, so presumably he'll reveal it at a later date. Could just be an agent for a political enemy of Tal Verrar though, trying to destabilize the city for future invasion or something similar.
  • What’s with the secrecy about Sabetha’s origins and early childhood? Sabetha just said that before Shades Hill she was “protected” and refused to elaborate (and apparently she never discussed where she comes from with the boys while growing up), which doesn’t exactly sound like she simply lost her parents in any of the usual ways. And if I remember correctly, Chains (or maybe the Thiefmaker?) at one point vaguely mentioned that her background is unusual, as well. Was she born into a cult or something? Some of the stuff she says about the bondsmagi sounds like she knows more about them than Locke does…
  • It's hard to believe that an affluent import trader of luxury textiles and gems like Jean's father and his presumably equally upper middle class mother would be so socially isolated that there were no relatives, friends, neighbors, employees or business partners to take charge of their suddenly orphaned son - if not out of the kindness of their hearts then because he's the sole heir to the warehouse inventory, domestic and foreign bank accounts, and possibly ships his father must have owned, and he’s still a minor, so his legal guardian would get access to the money. Even if his parents had been so deeply in debt that all the assets remaining after the house fire would have been seized by creditors (no hint of that in the books), there would have been a lawyer involved who surely wouldn't want the negative publicity resulting from throwing the prepubescent child of his former client out on the street, instead of simply apprenticing him to a temple or at least seeing to it that he gets a job as a scullery boy somewhere. And the first book went into detail about the fact that the comfortably well-off but not filthy rich merchants and artisans are the only truly decent, morally concerned people in Camorr, and immediately willing to chip in paying recompense to save their district's reputation after some priestly "initiates" were pickpocketed there - would people like that let it be said that they abandoned their neighbor's innocent little boy to starve or be kidnapped into sexual slavery? Children born into moderate wealth don't just slip through the cracks to end up homeless, unless they run away intentionally or are actively “disappeared” by their legal guardian (also no hint of that in the books either). Even before modern welfare states there were informal social security networks, at least among people who could afford to be charitable (to their social peers, at least, if not to the usually disdained urban poor).
    • There seem to be two possibilities. 1: Some combination of those social safety nets either not existing in Camorr or failing, for whatever reason. 2: The Thiefmaker intentionally subverted whatever social safety net there was for Jean without him realizing it to facilitate his sale to Father Chains. If this were the case, however, you would expect that Jean would have figured this out eventually and acknowledged it.
      • The "informal social safety nets" refered above to are the neighbors and friends and business associates anyone acquires in their lives, whose motivations to look after the boy were explained in detail above. It's impossible for those safety nets not to exist or totally fail in any human culture. (The reason people wouldn't take in their neighbor's orphans today is that the State replaced the informal nets with organized social security, meaning there are lots of complicated laws to follow, and there's no peer pressure anymore because everyone expects government agencies to take care of the kid.note ) To "subvert" them, the Thiefmaker would have to go on a killing spree. It wouldn't be a problem if Jean was orphaned in another plague so we could assume his parents entire social net died - but he explicitly was orphaned in an accident that affected only his parents. The only way I can see Jean ever ending up in Shades Hill is if he was actively abducted by the Thiefmaker - but Jean would know that, and should later have at least tried to contact his realatives and/or get his inheritance back. There needed to be at least some little explanation in the books that his parents were up to their gills in debt, or that some asshole uncle / business contact from out-of-town "adopted" Jean and then abandoned him to die in the poorer districts (where nobody knew him and the Thiefmaker found him wandering) in order to get at his inheritance, cash it out, and disappear with it, or... something.
  • Stragos’ fate. The book went into great detail about how there is no privacy on a ship and that you can hear it everywhere on board if people are getting loud during sex. And it’s shown several times that Captain Drakasha tries her best to shield her very young children from the nastiest aspects of pirate life. And yet she plans on keeping Stragos chained up in her ship, torturing him with solitary confinement and letting him scream until he goes mad? Yeah, Mommy is keeping a mad old slave down in the bilges, dirty and chained like an animal, screaming all day and night - that’s totally not going to give the kids nightmares or make them think their mother is a psychopath... Also, won’t he keep everyone awake?
    • The bilge is a lowest part of the ship. It also collects water, so presumably crew don't venture down there for anything beyond absolute necessity. So one must assume that it's far enough away that someone screaming wouldn't be heard by the crew in the places where they actually frequent.
      • A sailing ship is not like a tall appartment building or modern cruise ship / tanker. It's at most 3 or 4 levels from the deck to the bilges (maybe 10 or 15 meters). If someone's shouting in the basement of my house, you can be damn sure it's audible 3 floors up under the rafters. And wooden planks are a crap insulator for sound, so you can't even compare it to locking up someone in the cellar of a house with concrete floors and proper insulation.
  • Why bother protecting the identities of your secret police with masks when you’re going to give them all a very recognizable tattoo, in a place they can’t reasonably hide all the time in their private life no less? (It’s suspicious if someone wears gloves even in the bathhouse or while eating.) It’s not like the Archon’s Eyes actually used the tattoos to prevent the kind of infiltration that their masks made so easy. The convenient masks and the tattoo to identify corpses were clearly just there to make the plot work, not because they make sense in-universe.
    • Depending on the fashion of the area, wearing gloves while eating may not be that big a deal. Point about the bathhouse, but they might just not go to any.
  • When Locke and Jean return to the Sinspire after going to Port Prodigal and back, Selendri refers to Jean as "Valora", when she should know him as "de Ferra". How does she know about their pirate names? It is never brought up in the rest of the book.


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