This is the first in a series of tales about an entertaining bunch of thieves in the fantasy land of Camorra. It moves fast, has some clever twists and is backed up with colourful descriptions of an imaginative world with elder glass structures, alchemical globes, glittering towers, fantastic culinary creations, and a feast of blood and torture.
We don't read books like this for their literary quality. Even so, I found the writing weak at times. For example, the frequent unnecessary qualifiers ("fairly", "rather" etc) gives it an amateur touch. I felt it deteriorated towards the end with the dialogue and the overall credibility becoming shaky. I also felt the frequent use of the f-word (and others) sounded wrong,
Altogether I would recommend it as a cracking read for young to mid teens. For adults it's a fun read when you are in the mood for a romp that doesn't take too much thinking.
An assured debut novel the plot centers around a con that the Gentleman Bastards (Locke, Jean Tannen, Bug and the twins Calo and Galdo) are pulling on a nobleman, involving a rare wine. The con also allows Lynch to introduce Locke's backstory, from joining a gang belonging to the Thiefmaker and his transgressions that lead to his adoption by Father Chains and inauguration into the Gentleman Bastards. It also gives Lynch the opportunity to establish his world credibly and competently and in such a way that you want to find out more about it.
Although the con goes a little too smoothly to be fully believable, Lynch eventually introduces the Grey King, a dangerous man with his own agenda who coerces and blackmails Locke into helping him settle an old score with Barsai, the head of Camorr's crime syndicate. Although the end of the book is never really in doubt, I enjoyed the way in which the Grey King was always one step ahead of Locke. However, the introduction of the Bond Mage felt like a cop-out, particularly because Lynch doesn't really explain how magic works in this world until near the end, when the concept of 'true names' is revealed to cheap effect.
Until the Grey King's introduction about half-way through the text, the pace feels a little slow, although Lynch's writing style is absorbing. Characterisation is well handled - Locke et al aren't evil so much as of a different moral ilk to other folk and Lynch takes the time to set out their own moral code. Lynch's descriptions are evocative and vivid and Camorr has an almost Venetian feel to it.
On the negative side, this book doesn't have feature strong female characters. The women are pretty much on the sidelines in whore/wife roles. The two most interesting women in the novel don't get much page time and the supposed love of Locke's life is nothing but a name. I wanted to see more of the Grey King's motivations and how his plans were set up as it only comes out in the last 150 pages and feels rushed. On the plus side, Lynch surprised me by whacking people you would expect to make it into the sequel and the novel hangs together well, tying up loose ends so as to set up the sequel while providing a satisfying read.
on 14 February 2014
It's a bit of an odd book. There are some really good ideas throughout the book, the thieving factions and the Nobles.
I did enjoy reading this book, but it seems Scott Lynch is trying to go for the more comedy/action approach.. some of the scams and the situations Locke finds himself in are laughable. Then it tries to be serious again, which it does achieve to some extent. The world in which Locke lives in is a very ruthless and violent one. It just so happens that the main character, Locke Lamora is your typical,cocky, arrogant, good guy action hero.
I'm not so sure about the series as a whole though, I would suggest reading this book, but the rest of the series is a step down from this, so expect to be disappointed, it tends to lean more towards the comedy and silliness, rather than the dark and violent world of Cammor.
on 7 September 2007
What I enjoyed most about this book - and there are many things to enjoy - was the way the plot suddenly executes a sudden turn in the middle. What begins as an engaging romp through a well-realised fantasy world in the company of a bunch of likable con-artists turns into a gripping and gruesome tale of gang warfare and vengeance. The author handles the transition deftly, keeping up the pace of the plot, and as the narrative grows darker the reader begins to fear for the fate of characters we have been persuaded to care about in the lighter first act.
Lynch has a flair for language; his descriptions are lyrical and vivid, the characters are well-drawn and varied and their language is refreshingly salty. They sound like the villains they are, which makes them convincing and real.
The plotting, too, is neat, and the book has a non-linear structure which hops from the present to flashback. This keeps tension running high and drip-feeds information to the reader.
Overall, the feel of the book was very remeniscent of a trendy film or TV series with its quick cutting, leaps through time and twists and turns. A refreshing antidote to turgid, formulaic quest tales - and book two is on the way!
on 4 November 2013
I have always avoided fantasy novels,preferring "proper" SF - but having bought this on a whim when it was recommended by Amazon, I totally fell in love with it. Think Venice with ancient and beautiful alien roots - think poetic imagination mixed with painful violence - think a man who seems at first to be amoral, but turns out to have much more ruth than is comfortable for him. This book is long enough to be completely immersive, but I couldn't wait to get hold of the sequel so that my adventure alongside Locke and Jean continues. Thank goodness the third one is already published and waiting for me.
on 30 November 2014
This book was recommended to me and I was very happy with the person who did. The author really takes you into the world and city that this story is set in. You engage with the carachters from the off and feel you know the districts and architecture well. The magic is mostly alluded to in the early part of the novel which again makes the story more intriguing. Its as brutal as it is witty and sometimes the language is as colourful as the world you are taken into but it is all in context makes for one of the best books i have read in a while. Books 2 & 3 are on order - enough said.
on 27 January 2016
As someone who enjoys fantasy but sometimes finds the genre to be quite inaccessible, The Lies of Locke Lamora was a treat. Scott Lynch does a great job of drip feeding the rules and setting of his world without overloading the reader with mountains of unnecessary lore. The book is perfectly crafted with not a single piece of information going to waste - from the very first page everything is important to the plot.
Set in the city of Camorr, the story follows the titular character Locke Lamora and his team of thieves who work for the city's crime lord Capa Barsavi. Locke & co are content to spend their days concocting schemes and relieving the city's wealthiest residents of their fortunes, but when a mysterious assassin begins killing off Barsavi's men, Locke is thrown into an underground war that puts his live, and those of his fellow thieves, on the line.
My one gripe is that the book starts off very slow as the author (understandably) takes his time to build the world and introduce his characters as Locke attempts to pull off a complicated scheme posing as an envoy from a foreign land. While it was interesting enough, I still found myself willing something exciting to happen. A little over halfway through, the true plot comes into focus and the remainder of the book throws in plenty of twists and turns to keep momentum going to the end.
Chapters are interspersed with "interludes" which explore the backgrounds of the various characters and usually provide some key information for the upcoming chapters. While this sometimes feels like it is slowing down the pacing of the story, they act as a great way of developing the world piece by piece.
Over all The Lies of Locke Lamora was an enjoyable read with a great cast of characters. I felt like it took a long time to get going but once it did it was hard to put down. I'm looking forward to reading the next entry in the series.
on 23 December 2015
Everybody loves a cliff hanger, but the important part of that sentence is the a – singular, one cliff-hanger. Some books take them to the extreme apparently ending each chapter on a knife edge. This would not be too bad should the story continue over the next page, but in the case of ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch, you are instead transported back in time to an earlier period and must read some more exposition before finding out what happens. If this occurred a few times I would not have minded, but it happens often and artificially inflates the book making it over 500 pages long, when it could have been 400. Length is not aided either by Lynch’s penchant to explore every nook and cranny of the world – I like to know about my surroundings, but not the extraneous details.
It is a shame that ‘Lies’ drags in places as it is a very good idea with some good characters. Locke himself is an interesting gentleman thief and the idea of a society that has different tiers works well. This is conman fantasy and when the Gentlemen are pulling off a grift the book is very entertaining. It is just that the momentum is constantly being halted by Lynch’s use of a non-linear format. At one point you jump from the present to the past, to the not so much past, to the present. Not only is this a little confusing, but actually unnecessary.
The action sequences when they occur are good fun and there is a mystery in the book that works well. All of it hidden in a fatty layer of padding. A leaner title would have made for a better read, as it currently stands ‘Lies’ is solid, but not spectacular, fantasy.
on 26 July 2015
When it comes to works of fiction, these are a few of my very most absolute favourite things:
- Renaissance Italy
- Con artists
- High fantasy
The Lies of Locke Lamora just so happens to focus on a group of con artists going about their con artist ways, in a fantastical representation of what appears to be Renaissance Italy (Venice, in particular, was the vibe I got). So really, it was off to a winning start. All of my favourite things were present in droves, from Renaissance society and clever cons to cloak and dagger skirmishes and magic. The plot is exciting and well-paced, with twists aplenty to keep you turning the page.
An additional nice touch is the ending - no spoilers here, but the ending is conclusive. This is the first book in a series, and of course there are enough threads left dangling and questions left unanswered to make you want to go straight out and order book 2, but the story of book 1 remains self-contained. There's little more frustrating than getting to the end of a lengthy novel only to discover you've got to read another 600 pages or more in order to get any sort of resolution. If you love Lynch's world and characters, you're going to WANT to pick up the next book, but there's no need to. The ending of this first book is satisfying in its own right.
An acquaintance of mine reviewed this book by saying it felt as though it has been written "just for him", and I have to echo this sentiment here. I can't imagine much more I'd want from a book, and have already ordered book 2 to carry on the adventure.
on 13 September 2014
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch has mystery, murder and intrigue which I like in a good book. So I thought I would give this book a try. It is the first in The Gentlemen Bastards series and is definitely a book that will get you hooked and reading the books that follow.
Based in a unique world that has similarities to Venice is the city of Camorr where thieves live in their area, the rich live in their area and an agreement is in place among them. Elderglass towers and ancient relics of an old world are part of the new and a Duke’s army as well as the fabled Spider with the Midnighters enforce justice and peace in the city. The descriptions are amazing and Scott conjures up pictures in our minds of light and dark places, scary events such as criminals fighting sea creatures, and pretty places such as gardens of glass roses. His writing style, descriptions and creation of atmosphere and emotion in the story really hook us in as even though a fantasy world we are there as part of the action.
The story follows Locke Lamora, aka Thorn of Camorr, who is a master in ideas and scheming when it comes to leading his band of friends to steal from the rich. He isn’t Robin Hood though as they keep the riches! What I liked about this story is that we follow him and his friends in the present but there are also flashbacks to how they became who they are and grew to be really good at what they do. Chains, a con artist priest took in Locke and other troubled orphans from the Thiefmaker and taught them how to steal, the rules on this including paying the Capa who rules the underworld, and gives them an education as well as being their father figure. He also teaches them life skills such as cooking. Chains gives them a chance in the world and The Gentlemen Bastards as they are known become a strong team. He also teaches them that each have skills they are better at than others, helps them enhance these and how each can draw on their strengths to help the team. For example, Locke is rubbish at fighting while Jean is much better. But for me it shows that not all heros or main characters of books need to be great at everything. Of course stealing from the rich on a long con isn’t allowed but they break the rules, cover themselves cleverly by showing that they are small time rubbish thieves and no threat. Jean Bug, Calo, Galdo and Locke make up this group and they are not only a team but a family too.
The story follows the group on a long con to con a couple out of their riches. But The Grey King is looming and determined to make life difficult for the Capa by killing off his stronger thief crews. The Grey King knows who Locke is and what they do and uses this to set a trap and take control over the Capa’s empire. His Bondsmage adds a bit of magic to the story and also a lot of danger and malice. Locke and his friends are in a lot of danger and we follow them, all the time wondering how the story will develop and if they will live or die in the end.
Overall the story is brilliant, and a real adventure. It is definitely one of danger, murder, intrigue and ruthlessness. But it is also one of friendship, kindness, courage and bravery. Locke and his friends are strong and determined people but it is sad that they have amassed a huge fortune and don’t know what to do with it. However it shows that they are not driven by money and con people for the enjoyment of it. As much as Locke and Jean are a duo, Jean is my favourite character as he has great fighting skills and his ‘wicked sisters’ axes are brilliant. The fight scene with the twins is bloody but captivating. Even though it is emotional in places I loved how Locke and Jean kept going too. There are so many twists and turns in this story too.
If you like adventure, action and imagining being part of the story, this book is for you. I definitely recommend reading this book and even though I was sad it ended I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.