The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Locke Lamora and his gang, the Gentlemen Bastards, have been fleecing the nobility of Camorr for several years. While engaged in their latest scam, Locke gets betrothed to the daughter of the Capa, the crimelord of the city, and the Gray King starts picking off the Capa's subbordinates. Can The Gentelmen Bastards finish their con, free Locke from marrying the Capa's daughter and avoid the Gray King's attention?
Yeah, that summary's as misleading as a transvestite hooker but this isn't the kind of book you want spoiled for you going in.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a serpentine tale, both in plot twists and in the way it is told, alternating in flashbacks and the present day. I see it compared to Ocean's Eleven and the Godfather in a fantasy setting. I can see the comparison to The Godfather with the Capa's troubles but it reminds me of The Sting way more than it does Ocean's Eleven.
The Lies of Locke Lamora takes place in a fantasy setting that resembles Italy of the 15th or 16th century. Locke and his compatriots, Jean Tannen, Bug, Caldo, and Galo, are all orphan thieves raised in the temple of the god of thieves. Gone are the usual fantasy tropes of prophecies and quests. This reads more like a crime book. Can the Gentelmen Bastards pull off one last big score?
The way the separate plotlines of the scam, the Capa, and the Gray King converge was very well done. When I started reading the story, I had no idea of the carnage that await me once I passed the 60% mark. When you start reading a fantasy series, you expect certain things to happen and not happen in the first book. Lynch certainly threw me for a loop.
I liked the characters of Locke and Jean quite a bit. The Gray King, however, was a bit of a villain cliche, with his explaining of the plan and motives and all. I thought the Bondsmage was a much more chilling and believable villain. Locke took a bigger shit kicking than any series lead in recent memory, both physically and emotionally, and was a much more relateable series lead than most fantasy characters.
However, it wasn't all pork chops and apple sauce. For what it was, I thought the book was really long winded. While some of the flashbacks did a lot to add background to the characters, others felt like padding and could have been summed up in a sentence or two without losing much. The Gray King came off like a scene chewing mustache twirler near the end. Why didn't he just tie Locke's girlfriend to the railroad tracks while he was at it?
All things considered, I thought The Lies of Locke Lamora was pretty damn great. If you're into crime books and want to give fantasy a shot, this is the perfect book for you. Four out of five stars.
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