The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell
Published: 2006
512 pages (US Hardcover)
Received: A used book sale at my local library

  “An orphan’s life is harsh- and often short- in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentlemen Bastards, Lock is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly.
     Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Lock vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game- or die trying….”

     My first reaction after finishing this book was “Wow. I haven’t read anything like that in a long time.” It draws you in and tells a story that you will not soon forget. It’s complex and layered, the characters are lovingly imperfect , and the setting is not pristine. It’s gritty and realistic, and I loved every word of it.

     Surprisingly, I had to put the book down the first time I read it. I couldn’t get past the cursing, particularly the use of the “F” word. This is my personal preference when it come to fantasy. When characters use swear words from real life, it takes away from the story, and breaks the illusion. The characters in the beginning of the book curse frequently and profusely. I expected the entire book to be like that, and I didn’t want to read it, at first.

     Once I got past the exposition, and began to discover Locke’s story, I realized that this was going to be a different kind of tale. It wasn’t going to be pretty or heroic, there weren’t any knights or princesses. Locke Lamora is an orphan, living in a graveyard, who eventually is bought by Father Chains and learns the fine art of thieving. The author uses flashbacks to show how Locke grows from street rat to criminal mastermind.  These flashbacks were usually in chronological order, and as a result, the reader sees Locke grow up and befriend Jean and the Sanza twins. The relationship he has with these young men is profound and defines Locke as a character.

     Scott Lynch is a master at manipulating his story. Not a single word of this story is a mistake, there are absolutely no accidents in his writing. Everything comes back, ever detail is important, everything is connected and convoluted. There is no black or white in Camorr. More than once I came up with a logical guess as to what would happen next, but after a few pages realized that logical thinking doesn’t help you figure out where the story is going go. I would say to myself, “Here is a perfectly understandable reason for this character to do this, but hang on… nope, I was way off. Why didn’t I think of that?” The reader is as much in the dark to Locke’s plan as his mark is. I enjoyed figuring out the scheme along with the Don and Dona Salvara.

     I loved all the characters. Locke is the charismatic, charming, smooth talker. Jean is the scholarly skull cracker. The Sanza twins, Calo and Galdo, are twin perverts, but are endearing with their banter. Bug is the apprentice, the youngest, and he looks up to all of them. Locke is like a big brother to all of his friends. He protects them and in turn, Jean protects him. Sometimes the two of them would sound like an old married couple.

     The book takes place completely in the city of Camorr. This is a rough and tumble city, where crime runs rampant in the streets. Because of the Gentlemen Bastards exclusive dealing with the wealthy citizens, the reader sees very different sides of Camorr. The Don and Dona represent the nobility. they watch pseudo-gladiatorial games, where the “gladiator” must face off against a man-eating shark that can leap from the water, and they drink rare wines and squabble amongst themselves. However, Locke and Jean don’t always rub noses with the elite, and that is when the reader experiences the darker side of Camorr. The side where you must always watch your purse and your back. The shadowy underbelly of the magnificent Camorr. Ruthlessly ruled by Capa Barsavi, there is a tenacious Secret Peace between thieves and the “police” force.

     The Gray King is a spectacular ‘Bad Guy’. I hated him. He is completely and utterly despicable. He was clever and managed to out-think Locke and Jean for a while. I wanted both he and his Bondsmagi, the Falconer, to die. I have to say, he is one of my most un-favorite characters I have ever read. But I couldn’t stop reading, I had to know what he did next.

     Mr. Lynch is not only a manipulator of plot, but of language as well. He spins sentences effortlessly and easily portrays his character based on the words they say. Locke is incredibly eloquent, both when he is in disguise and when he argues with his friends. this book is full of memorable quips. He manages to make the characters both sarcastic and wise at the same time.

Overall Opinion: I really enjoyed this book. I still can’t stop thinking about it. I will be comparing the next dozen books I read to this one. I fell in love with the characters, even if they were thieves (They, at least, were thieves with morals). For me, I didn’t like the cursing, it took away from the story, but that is my only complaint. I loved the world that Mr. Lynch created, the cultures, the histories, and most importantly, the bond he crafted between the Gentlemen Bastards.

If you liked this book, you may also like:

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick