Here's another favorite of mine I thought I'd add to the list. I read this a year or two ago. Coming into it, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd heard so many good reviews about it, but I was worried I might not like Locke Lamora, that he might be too much of an antihero.
As it turns out, my worries were completely unnecessary. I didn't fall in love with Locke right away, but I ended up enjoying the story. In an era of so many dark and depressing stories, it was nice to see some fun alongside the dark and depressing. Yes, it's still a grim world, but Locke and his cohorts inject enough humor and fun into that world that it's not a depressing reading experience.
Still, it can be brutal at times. No doubt about that. Characters die. Things get really messy. Yet I found that Scott Lynch balanced these two sides of the story very well. At the end, the action really picked up, and I remember frantically turning pages because I had to know what was going to happen. There are few books that get me to turn pages like that.
However, the early going was a bit rough, as I didn't identify with the characters right away. Also, the dual timeline structure of the story was a bit strange at first. I adjusted, but it took me some time. Once I adjusted, I fell in love with the characters. They were drawn very well.
Overall, this was a great read promising more to come. Although I was disappointed with Red Seas Under Red Skies, I loved The Republic of Thieves (possibly even more than the first book). If you want to read a thief story that's both fun and gritty, this is a story you should read.