Little is known about her history. Our earliest knowledge of her whereabouts is her appearance in Shades' Hill as a child, which is where she first met Locke. Sabetha was a member of Windows within the Shades' Hill Gang. In the books, we discover that Red-Haired girls (especially virgins) hold special properties when cut open and raped according to mythology in the country of Jerem. Sabetha is very conscious about hiding her hair; when Locke meets her it has been dyed brown, and she wears a cap. She disappeared from Shades' Hill around the age of 8/9, probably because Chains adopted her into the Gentlemen Bastards.
Chains sent Sabetha away at a young age to study with a woman named Mistress Sibella. It can be inferred that she was sent for training in decorum and feminine arts. In RoT, Chains prompts the students to dance with one another, Sabetha demonstrates that she has clearly been taught well. Her poise and elegance is seen. Chains does say in The Lies of Locke Lamora: ‘You’ve reached a certain age when many boys seem to just sort of fold up their better judgement and set it aside for a few years. Hell, Sabetha’s done it too. Part of the reason I sent her off to where she is at the moment.’ Sabetha’s precise role within the Gentlemen Bastards is still unclear, though Chains states that she is an ’ornament’ to their gang and intriguingly described her as ‘the born queen of all the charmers that ever lived.’
Locke and Sabetha’s relationship is a turbulent one, riddled with rivalry and as a result, it has been a touchy subject that Locke isn’t inclined to dwell upon throughout the first two books, hinting at a deep connection that ended unpleasantly, reinforced by Calo’s reprimand: ‘I don’t recall her fucking things up without your able assistance’. In RoT, we gain a deeper understanding of the development of Locke and Sabetha's relationship. While Locke has considered himself in love from the instant he laid eyes on Sabetha, Sabetha took longer to warm to Locke. It seems the the greatest kindling of their young romance occurred while on their journey to and during their time in Espara. Prior to this, Locke is simply an admirer. Sabetha is cool and aloof carrying a discontentment surrounding Locke. We later learn that this animosity stems from Sabetha's feelings that Locke replaced her as the leader of the Gentlemen Bastards during her training abroad. Sabetha also holds a grudge against Locke for being chosen as a Priest of the Crooked Warden.
The exact date Sabetha left the Gentlemen Bastards is unclear, though the book hints that she left 2-3 years prior to The Lies Of Locke Lamora, and 5 years prior to The Republic of Thieves.
It is hinted that while Locke is named the ‘Thorn of Camorr’, Sabetha is titled the ‘Rose of the Marrows’. The nicknames developed out of a conversation among the Gentlemen Bastards. Sabetha claims that she will be great, leaving mystery in her wake, while her victims damn her name. At this point she crafts a quick we learn that Sabetha discards her moniker, though as we know from tLoLL, Locke's became infamous within Camorri legend.
According to the Sanza twins, she now dwells in Parlay, a canton of the Kingdom of Seven Marrows, ‘thousands of miles away’ from Camorr.
Sabetha is a strong-willed, determined, intelligent woman who displayed a keen understanding of the world at an exceptionally young age. She is well trained in the arts of theft, misdirection, and strategy. Sabetha is used to being respected and obeyed. She uses her persuasive abilities as well as her feminine charms when necessary to acquire what she desires. There are few that openly question her motives or her course of action. The glaring exception to this is Locke, who, though he loves her dearly, cannot seem to separate himself from the role of leader and strategist. To that end, the two minds are paired against one another in RoT.
Sabetha is very guarded. She has no lasting friendships, no family, and no one that she trusts completely. Her closest connection is to Locke, and we see several times that she continues to question his motives. This is clearly a result of her development and her role as a solo operator. While Locke thrives in a collective environment, Sabetha is the exact opposite. She thrives in an environment where she can dictate the necessary moves to accomplices who carry out her orders.
The Sanza twins suggest that she is arrogant and impetuous (‘Maybe we could have her back a little less crazy, though.’ ‘And humble. Humble would be good’). Locke reinforces this claim by describing her as ‘so mad and so lovely’.
In Red Seas Under Red Skies Locke also implies that Sabetha has a love for climbing. She also appears to be a talented thief as she was part of the exclusive Windows crew in Shades' Hill.
Even though Sabetha has faced a number of trials in her life, she remains unerringly kind to others. When she captures Locke and Jean, she takes steps to ensure their treatment is superb. While in the Shades' Hill gang, she looks after Tam, though she could have easily shrugged him off. And when Locke appears to be captured by the Yellow Jacket, she quickly abandons her scheme in order to rescue him. Her loyalty may be questionable at times, but she is kind and caring when it counts.
The Republic of Thieves
- Sabetha will make her long awaited debut in the third book, the Republic Of Thieves and, as Lynch described, she will be the ‘centrepiece’ of the novel.