Oh hi there, you seem to have caught me red-handed in the midst of writing a book review. You know, those things I used to write with some regularity several years ago before the Great Reading Slump hit? Well, as you may remember from a previous blog post, one of my personal goals for 2017 is to read more – or rather, get back into reading – and I decided to look at the books on my “on hold” shelf over on Goodreads and I knew immediately what I needed to pick up first.
With this old hobby on the sidelines (reviewing the books I read, that is), it seemed only natural to combine my “read more” and “blog more” goals and bring back the book reviews. So please mind the rust as I fire up this old engine, I have to somewhat relearn my craft and attempt to utilise some newer skills I have learned since the last time I did this thing, but here are my thoughts on The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, book one of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence #1
Author: Scott Lynch
At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.
I started reading The Lies of Locke Lamora during a mental crash after years of being told: “Omg you need to read this!” And to be fair, I knew I would love it once I sat down and read it, I even went out and picked up Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves, but that was not the right time for me to start a new series. Still, I managed to read the first hundred pages or so and when I picked it back up a couple of weeks ago, I could thankfully remember what had happened thus far, so I got a quick refresher from the husband and continued on and the first thing that struck me was how much I felt like I’d landed right back in the streets of Camorr.
See, Scott Lynch does this thing with his narrative that doesn’t so much tell you what you’re looking at as it does paint a full picture for you. That is tough to pull off, and he uses this style to switch the mood of an environment like a pro. I often find myself struggling to fully picture fantasy worlds from the descriptions given in almost any respective novel but that was not the case for me with The Lies of Locke Lamora. I could almost feel the burning sun of Camorr, smell the water of the Angevine, hear the background noise of people going about their daily business, and it’s this kind of richness that I didn’t expect from a story described to me as “a fantasy Ocean’s Eleven.” Again, I knew I would love it, I just wasn’t convinced of how epic this fantasy would be from the descriptions given to me prior to actually reading it.
If I had just one complaint, it would be that the first half felt a little bit slow-going, however, once the Grey King comes into the story, things really kick off. In fact, it changes tracks so hard it crashes head first onto another road entirely, and this road is full of twists and turns. See, Camorr is maintained by the Secret Peace, an agreement between the Duke and the Capa that ensures protection for those that follow certain rules and punishes those who break them. Capa Barsarvi rules over Camorr’s outlaws, and so long as they pay their taxes on time and keep to the Secret Peace, they receive his protection. So when the Grey King starts mysteriously killing off the leaders of Barsarvi’s most prominent and loyal gangs, Locke Lamora starts to take notice, and let me tell you, nobody is safe.
You will get attached to the characters in The Lies of Locke Lamora. How could you not? They’re so charming and colourful, and you learn to love them in the present as well as through various flashbacks that detail certain key points in Locke’s life. I personally loved Jean, but then I have a weakness for big guys with fiercely loyal hearts, and Jean is pretty much the epitome of those characteristics. Plus you really have to respect a guy who rocks dual-wield hatchets, you know?
And of course, there’s Locke himself. A Master thief and con artist who has led his gentleman bastards through many heists over the years who have together stolen thousands upon thousands of crowns under his masterful guidance and cunning. At one point, I was almost tempted to call him a Mary Sue but after a few events I very much ate those words and decided that he is a well-rounded, beautifully flawed character and I must follow him everywhere so I will be diving straight into Red Seas Under Red Skies, which I am reliably informed “gets bloody weird” and I am rather okay with that.
All in all, I imagine pretty much everybody who is interested in science fiction and fantasy has read The Lies of Locke Lamora by now but just in case; seriously, pick it up. This is honestly one of the best SFF novels I have had the pleasure of sinking hours into, and Gollancz haven’t long released the gorgeous 10th-anniversary special edition hardback if that’s your thing.
If you’ve read The Lies of Locke Lamora, who was your favourite character? Which district would you live in? Please remember to keep the comments spoiler-free!
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence:
1. The Lies of Locke Lamora
2. Red Seas Under Red Skies
3. The Republic of Thieves
4. The Thorn of Emberlain