Based on all the raving reviews, I had purchased The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I started the book, but could never get past the first chapter, so I shelved it. After being thoroughly disappointed with Into the Fire, I didn’t want to invest in another book, so I decided to pull Locke Lamora off the shelf. There were some sections that I felt were too descriptive, but the strategy involved with Locke’s thievery made for an interesting read- I did purchase the second book. I hope some of the more wordy passages get tightened up. If you’re willing to skim read some of the longer descriptions, or you’re into a lot of descriptions, this is a good book to pick up.
Here’s a breakdown…
My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
There is a lot in this book that I can’t cover in a summary, instead of trying to cover all my notes, I’m going to (attempt to) keep this brief so I can get started on the next book…
Locke Lamora (origins unknown) is an orphan who ends up landing in the Gentleman Bastards thief guild. It’s a small group of thieves who pull off more elaborate crimes (for example, their garrista (leader)- Father Chains was posing as a blind priest collecting money). They “don’t believe in hard work when a false face and a good line of bullshit can do so much more.” When Father Chains dies (old age), Locke takes over and continues robbing from several nobles in the area (through elaborate schemes). At the same time The Gray King is making a move on the current Capa (the top Garrista for all The Right People (thieves)- Barsavi. Locke becomes a pawn in the Gray Kings game, and we see the birth of a bitter rivalry.
Plot Score: 4/5
Locke- the brains of the operation. “Locke Lamora’s Rule of thumb was this: a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim’s trust forever.” The great thing about this character is that he isn’t perfect. He isn’t the best fighter, and he ends up taking several beatings.
Jean- The fighter of the group. He’s a bit chunky, but he’s got quite a temper and handles The Wicked Sisters (his twin axes) expertly. I probably like him even more than Locke.
The twins- The comedy relief of the group. They are necessary for the elaborate set ups that Lock comes up with, and they can handle themselves in a fight.
Bug- The newest little initiate into the Gentleman Bastards. He’s fearless.
One of the most interesting things about the Gentleman Bastards is that they have enough money stockpiled that they don’t have to thieve, but it’s about the game. At the end of the book, Locke and Jean now have more driving them, than just ‘the game’, so it’ll be interesting to see how they act when the stakes are higher.
Characters Score: 4/5
This is a really well constructed world. There is a lot of history and background. This is definitely an “iceberg book”- one where we are seeing just a tip of the iceburg that Lynch has built.
Setting- prior to humans taking over the land, there are remanents of another race that lived there previously. It is unknown what happened to the previous inhabitants, but they have left a city and elderglass. There is also Wraithstone, a chunky white substance that burns out the personality of whoever (or whatever breathes it).
Government- there is a Duke, who we really don’t see much of, as all the thieves report up to Capa Barsavi.
Culture- There are games that are played between humans and sharks, death marks (the OK from the Capa to kill someone). There are also distinct groups/races of people. I’m wondering if the next book will take the Gentleman Bastards out of Camorr.
Religion- There are twelve commonly accepted gods (The Twelve). However, the thieves believe their is a 13th god- the Nameless Thirteenth- the Thiefwatcher, the Crooked Warden, the Benefactor, the Father of Necessary Pretexts.
World Building Score: 5/5
As previously mentioned, I felt there were several passages that were unnecessary or could be shortened.
I *really* wished this book could have been in first person. Locke is such an interesting character, I would love for the story to be from his perspective, and perhaps alternate with Jean.
Style Score : 3/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
Words of Wisdom:
There are only three people in life you can never fool- pawnbrokers, whores and your mother.
Life Lessons Score: 1/5
-I’m really hoping that this is the beginning of a great fantasy series. There are so many unanswered questions and Lynch has set up a great long game between Locke and The Gray King.
-One of my biggest pet peeves is when there is a lack of communication that allows for conflict, I feel it is a cheap plot trick. I was delighted in this book when Locke tells everything to his friends and they attack their problems together.
-I loved the relationship between the Gentleman Bastards, I was broken hearted at the ending.
Total Score and Recommendation
17/25- At first I was going to read book 2 before making any recommendation, but after writing this review, I would recommend reading this.