Scott Lynch wrote The Lies of Locke Lamora in 2006, so it makes this kind of a late review if you will, but I still felt it deserved a review partly because I just read it (I guess that means I’m a bit late too) and also because it is such a wildly talked about book. It’s the first entry in the Gentlemen Bastards Sequence, of a proposed length of 7 books, so quite a lengthy one. When reading through online fantasy reviews and discussions online you now often read about Lynch, and he, because of his style of writing and storytelling, is one which is praised and grouped with other excellent authors such as Joe Abercrombie and George R. R. Martin. Having read the book (finally) there is no doubt for me anymore that he is one of the best and most intriguing new fantasy authors of the past few years.
Blurb: The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls. Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentlemen Bastards. The capricious, colorful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they’ve ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive…
I will say that the Lies of Locke Lamora has a slow start….somewhat. The structure of the book is made of books, chapters, numbered chapter sections and at the end of each chapter an interlude. While the chapters themselves, beginning in the thick of Locke’s latest con is captivating, the first interludes, namely in the first book or two, are a lot less so. It’s not to say that they don’t give significant background information or that their own stories aren’t interesting, but they slow down the telling of the main story a bit too much. I guess it’s sort of a good thing that Lynch makes them longest in the beginning since the further along in the novel we go, the shorter the interludes get, giving us direct and relevant background information about something that did or is going to happen soon thereafter and letting us move on quickly to the next bit of the story. Other than that, the book reads quickly and is throughout fascinating.
Scott Lynch’s voice is terrific, and I cannot stress how incredible his planning is. I don’t pretend to know how much time he actually spent planning out the various plans of Locke Lamora, or if he did at all, but twists and turns are intelligent, original and, at least for me, were unpredictable. I love a good con story and reading about other people getting stolen from pretty much in front of their faces and so this book, and Lynch’s way of telling it, had immense appeal to me. The thing I probably admire the most is that a lot of what goes on between Locke and the Salvaras is not completely necessary, or at least not in such a detailed way, to the main plot arch yet it is so complex that it would make a good enough story on its own (which in a way it does as the beginning of the book is only that). That’s another thing I like about Lies, the way that from this “ordinary” job (or game as the Gentlemen Bastards call it) unfolds a story that ends up having implications for nearly all of the city of Camorr.
The characters are also very well planned out in their evolution, or actually I should say Locke is since we see very little development in the other characters with the exception being Jean. I should say here that the chapter interludes come in handy here since through them we get a peak at would Locke (and also Jean in a couple of the interludes) was like younger, which allows us to see greater growth in him, since we get a grasp of his personality over a greater period of time than the actual time lapse of the story. Lynch also does, to a certain point, something that I love when authors do: he has no pity with his characters. Some die, some get tortured, mistreated etc. This isn’t mindless destruction mind you; he does it when it’s appropriate or advances the plot and it adds, I feel, some sense of reality to the story. This is something that Martin and Abercrombie also do in the books (which is why Lynch is often grouped with them I guess) except Lynch does it less often than Martin and a lot less gruesomely than Abercrombie.
This book in its latter stages won me over completely, since I admit that at first it didn’t quite feel right for me, and trust me when I tell you than it could do just the same for you. It’s that good. Feel free to scroll down a bit, click on one of the “Buy The Lies of Locke Lamora” links and purchase the book right now. Dark and Gritty fantasy lovers hear me well: this book is especially great for you, and it is also great for any huge lovers of fantasy in general. Once you’ve read this one, pick up Red Seas Under Red Skies, the sequel (which I will most likely be reviewing within the month… once I’ve read it of course) and then watch out for The Bastards and the Knives, forthcoming in May, an omnibus of two prequel novellas and The Republic of Thieves, the third book in the Sequence in October.
My Rating: 4.9 out of 5, it’s awesome but I still have a few qualms about it (very minor as you can judge from just the 0.1 missing…)
Reading Age: 15 and up
Violence: Yes quite a bit, and like I mentioned: assassination and torturing
Sex/Language: Some references to sex and an interlude about a whore rebellion (no really much actual sex involved but still) and also a lot of swearing, mostly fuck and shit, but all this is to be expected since it is dark and gritty…
Scott Lynch’s website: http://www.scottlynch.us/
Buy The Lies of Locke Lamora: