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on 2 June 2012
The Thorn of Camorr is a legendary master swordsman, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. He is also a complete fabrication. Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn and whilst adept at stealing from the rich - after all only they have anything worth stealing, he never really got to grips with the giving to the poor bit. When it comes to swordplay, he's only a danger to himself. He does have enough wit and cunning to make up for his lack of physical prowess and his companion Jean Tannen is more than handy with a blade if trouble comes calling.

Whilst in the middle of an elaborate confidence scam, Locke is dragged into a bloody power struggle within the Camarr underworld. Capa Barsavi wants Locke to accompany him to a meeting in order to kill a shadowy rival, the Grey King. Unfortunately the Grey King has discovered Locke's talent for dissembling and wants Locke to impersonate him for a meeting with the Capa...

The Lies Of Locke Lamora is the debut novel of Scott Lynch, but from the quality of the writing you'd be hard pressed to tell. The opening with the Thieftaker and Chains in masterfully done, brilliantly setting the tone for what follows. The story is told with great economy and skill, fair rattling along at a good pace with a minimum of exposition.

The unfolding plot is interwoven with interludes to Locke's formative years, deftly illustrating his rise from cocky street urchin under the thumb of the thieftaker to become the leader of the Gentleman Bastards. These interludes also lay the foundations for his enduring friendships and flesh out the other members of his gang quite admirably.

If you like the Hustle tv show, don't mind a bucketload of swearing and enjoy a fast-paced action packed romp through a beautifully rendered city, you'll love this. The Lies Of Locke Lamora (*****) is well worth checking out, but probably a bit too sweary for your maiden aunt.
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on 31 December 2010
This is a fabulous book. While it's a fantasy, set in a Venice-a-like mediaeval city but with added "alchemy" serving for basic science, a very small amount of very powerful magic, and a Mysterious Elder Race, it is consistent and believable. In this it is helped by there being lots of squalor, filth and fear - mediaeval life was thoroughly squalid and life was awful for almost everyone. The one place where the scene-setting falls down is a very minor one that most people won't notice, that a city of 88,000 can support 3,000 full-time professional criminals. While 3.5% of the population being criminals is believable, having them at it full time is not. But never mind, it's a tiny point, and it is necessary for the drama. This is fiction, not economics, so I'll let it be.

Most of the city's background is filled in in flashbacks, a device that can be intensely irritating, but in this case it works well, because most of the flashbacks are strictly relevant to the part of the main line of the story that immediately precedes them, and they are well-told little stories in themselves. I'd not be surprised if some of them had earlier been published as stand-alone short stories. Almost all of the main characters' development as people happens in these flashbacks too, and they really are people.

The main story has two strands, starting with the eponymous hero plotting and carrying out an outrageous advance fee fraud. Over time, another strand comes in, of the city's capo di capi having a rival, of the tussle between them, and Lamora's involvement in their fight. Both are portrayed realistically and are skilfully woven together to meet at the climax. And while this is the first in a series of planned books, it stands up very well on its own.

I very strongly recommend this book. It is a masterpiece of construction and story-telling, of balance between light and dark and between humour and deadly-seriousness. And most importantly, it's great fun.
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on 4 May 2013
I absolutley love this book and have read it several times.It is just the right length and the main characters are rogues but you really warm to them very quickly.A brill read if you like fantasy without any dragons,magic etc.
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on 25 April 2007
I'll keep this simple. Buy this book. This is a fantastic romp that really does make you read it at any opportunity you can get. I could hear it calling me when I was at work. I couldn't sleep until I'd just read one more chapter ... I can't recommend it enough - it's the best book I've read in years (probably since Julian May's The Many Coloured Land). It's not classic fantasy but that really does not matter. Just buy it, take a day or two off work and enjoy. I don't need to go into the plot, the characters or the writing. If you're interested enough to be reading this review then just take my word for it. You really will get to laugh, cry, plot, plan and be amazed by Locke Lamora and the Gentlemen Bastards ...

I always like to know what other authors people read when I am checking a review so to help you, my taste in books runs from SF authors such as Peter Hamilton, Iain Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Richard Morgan, fantasy writers including Raymond Feist, R Scott Bakker, Julian May, Steven Erikson, George RR Martin, Tad Williams, Dan Simmons and other good storytellers such as Christopher Brookmyre, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Fowler, Matthew Reilly, Clive Barker, Michael Crichton.
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on 12 April 2007
A truly excellent read. The characters are well-defined and above all, enjoyable to spend time with. The complexity of the scams pulled by the Gentlemen Bastards keeps you gripped, and a perfect sense of comic timing (despite the fact that this is certainly not a comedy) had me laughing out loud at points.

The whole book had me itching to continue reading. Not just to see how the whole story panned out, but sheer desperation to see what happens on the next page, in the next chapter. It literally pulls you through this breakneck adventure, and leaves you happily exhausted by the end of it.

The style of writing and attention to detail in terms of setting up this ancient city are superlative, and I can't remember being so engrossed by a new fantasy world since I first stumbled upon China Mieville.

Can't recommend this strongly enough.
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on 11 April 2008
I suspect a fair number of readers will give up on this in the first few chapters: you can tell this is a debut novel and the writer is sort of settling into his own voice as he goes. The first impression was of a sort of sub-Jack Vance, which is a hard act to follow.

It's worth persisting though - the language becomes less florid and the plot more fascinating: I really liked the setting. At first I didn't warm to the characters, but after a while I started to get attached to them. Be warned though, if you are the kind of reader that finds violence and death to sympathetic characters in fiction hard to read, you may not like this.

Several reviewers have referred to this novel as fantasy: it's set in a renaissance culture in the ruins of an alien culture, which to my mind makes it sci fi, but perhaps sci fi is less in the public eye just now.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one.
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on 12 February 2012
I'd been looking forward to reading this book for ages, having seen it recommended on a number of sites. It sounded like the sort of thing I'd love - I'm a big fan of modern fantasy and as a sometime scholar of Renaissance Italy, the pseudo-Venetian setting sounded fascinating. Sadly, I was quite disappointed and found I really had to make an effort to get through the book, which is really unusual for me.

The infuriating thing wasn't that it was terrible, but rather that it felt as though there was a good story trying to burst out through some fairly long, drawn out plotting. I forced myself to read on, certain that the plot was going to burst into life at any moment. Every so often, potentially interesting elements were introduced: "oh, there are ancient magical structures left by a previous race - maybe there's going to be a great revelation about them," or "ah,the hero has a mysterious ex-girlfriend who he can't get over - I guess she'll be showing up soon to wreck havoc." In both these cases and several more however, the matter was just let drop. The Elderglass towers seem to be mere window dressing, the ex-girlfriend never appears and the reader is never told anything about her.

At times, I felt myself finally getting interested in the story, only to be rudely interrupted by one of the "Interludes" - chapters explaining something about the history of Camorr or about the main characters' training. Some of these were interesting, others not so much, but in almost all cases, they seemed to horribly break the flow of the main plot. I actually really like non-linear narratives when they are done well and I'm usually a fan of back story about the mythos of fantasy worlds, but for whatever reason, I didn't feel they worked here. It just felt a bit self-indulgent, as though the author wanted to show that he'd created a fully developed world. Some could have been lost completely, others weaved more naturally into the story, perhaps by having them all at the beginning or having one character tell another the story.

To be fair, there is some good stuff. The setting is an unusual one and works rather well. Some of the characters are appealing (especially the villains I thought) and certain elements of the plot quite interesting. I read the last third in one sitting - this seemed to have the action and revelations that were missing earlier on and made me think that maybe I'll give the sequel a chance after all. Nonetheless, I'm struggling to see just what it is that led to all the five star reviews.

Interestingly, this series always seems to be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Abercrombie's books, which I've also found difficult to get into despite seemingly near universal rave reviews. So if you liked those, you'll probably love this, if not, maybe give it a miss.
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on 29 September 2015
Scott Lynch does an amazing job of story building, with really clever twists, aptly placed pauses and flash backs, and plenty of dastardly bastardy deed and underhanded turns and all sorts of unexpectedness. Absolute page turner and really really really well put together. I have found my new favourite author.
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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.
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on 8 August 2015
A book I couldn’t quite abandon, despite several times feeling the urge. The setup, probably a full quarter of the book, feels smug and contrived and takes forever to actually get anywhere, with the group of con-men known as The Gentlemen Bastards (lead by the titular Lamora) leading lives so charmed that any potential drama or intrigue is completely undercut. When, finally, the mysterious Grey King starts to make his presence felt in the (admittedly fascinating) city of Camorr there is a welcome injection of peril that begins to move things along at pace, and almost makes the insufferable setup worthwhile – the Bastards are thrown into levels of intrigue and danger far outwith their comfort zone, and the reader is finally carried along with them. The final quarter of the book seems to slow down just as it should be charging onwards, but scores are settled, daring escapes made, and intrigues resolved. None of this displeased me, but it’s too long by far and finishing it was ultimately a chore.
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