Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review - The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Gentleman Bastards, by Scott Lynch
1. The Lies of Locke Lamora    9/18/2009 * * * *
2. Red Seas Under Red Skies    3/4/2011 * * * *

I totally thought that I had already written reviews for both of these books, but since I can't find them anywhere, it must have been in my imagination!  So here for your viewing pleasure is my impressions of Book 1 in the series.  (Great cover, too!  Right?)

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean's Eleven, and entirely enthralling.

An orphan's life is harsh—and often short—in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men–and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game–or die trying.

My Thoughts:
As the blurb indicates, this debut novel from Scott Lynch truly is stunning.  It really is!  But be warned - you have to work at it just a little.

Don't get me wrong, because I cannot say enough about how fantastic this novel is, and how much I loved it.  The world-building that Lynch has done is amazingly detailed and endlessly intriguing, but Lynch wisely never hits the reader over the head with it, instead working the details into the dialogue or brief views of the surroundings.  The characters are fun and unique.

Locke's story is told both in the present and in the past, so the reader slowly learns about Locke's childhood and training and is able to see how those events shape and mold the thoughts and actions of the adult Locke and his crew.  The style is a little hard to follow at first, and sometimes the time jump is slightly disconcerting, as the jump from the present to the past is usually right at a cliff-hanger moment.  There were several sections of his training and childhood that got a little tiny bit tedious while I was reading them, but later on in the story I was glad for the insight they provided.

There are also several gaps in the narrative of Locke's youth, years that are skipped over, which I found odd at the time, but now that the series is continuing it looks as if the author will be filling in some of those gaps through future story lines, which I find exciting.  It appears that in book three we will gain more knowledge and information regarding a section of his youth and a romance that is only barely mentioned in the first 2 books, and I'm hoping that will fill in at least one of those "gaps."

What I loved most about the story were the characters themselves, specifically Locke.  The pacing of the second part of the book is perfectly intense, never slowing down, as Locke and crew fleece the rich for their own benefit.  When things in Locke's world begin to fall apart, Locke must juggle multiple cons to keep not only himself and his crew from being killed, but also to save his beloved city from an insidious attack.  But finding his way through the many webs of lies to discern the truth of the situation is more difficult than Locke ever thought it would be, and the author handles the twists and turns of the plot like a master.  This is one of those roller-coaster stories that you hang on to for dear life and never quite know what to expect next.

The Lies of Locke Lamora gets 4 stars.

Have you read this book?  Do agree with my assessment?  Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!


  1. You always seem to read books with awesome covers! Love the look of this one. :)

  2. @diaryofadomesticgoddess Yes, apparently I really do judge books by their covers.