6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Assured and entertaining,
This review is from: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Paperback)
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.