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Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastards #1)
by Scott Lynch
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right. Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn't invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.

Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city's underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive...


Before I start on my proper review of this book, I want to talk about the reason why I picked this up.  I've come to realize that I love characters who play by their wits, and almost always get away with something audacious.  They are extremely clever, sarcastic and often motivated by honorable intentions.  These are characters like Gen from the Queen's Thief series, Falcio from Traitor's Blade and The Scarlet Pimpernel.  I had heard Locke Lamora might be like this, but that really wasn't the case and I was disappointed by that.  Unfortunately I felt like that colored my feelings about this book, but I did try to keep my review as unbiased by that aspect as possible.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is an epic, sprawling fantasy tale at about 700 pages.  It takes awhile to get into the story, especially because the author has an interesting way of telling it.  The story moves back and forth between the present and the past of how Locke and some of his fellow 'Gentlemen Bastards' trained to become the specialist thieves they are.  It doesn't help the pace of the story that the action stops so many times to find out something about the characters that illuminates their present predicament.  But it is an intriguing way to learn more about these characters.  It just takes awhile to become invested.  The novel is also richly descriptive when it comes to the world building, to the point that I often found it a bit confusing.  It was very picturesque, but difficult to assimilate so much detail while also figuring out who was who and which plot line I was in, and in what time.  I'm sure if I re-read it though, I would find even more to appreciate about the story because it is so rich.

Even though the story gets convoluted fast, there are highly satisfying moments throughout as we learn more about Locke and his accomplishments.  He's a fun, audacious character who gets by a lot on luck it seems, even though he has some pretty bright schemes.  The book explains a lot of his singular schemes from his past, but when it comes to the major plot in this story, it's even more interesting to see how he gets away with his claims when pretty much everything goes against him.  And even though this book sets up Locke as an exceptionally clever fellow, it's really luck that benefits him the most, and I often had a hard time sympathizing with his character sometimes.  Especially when it came to the resolution because I was a little sympathetic towards the villain.

The writing is excellent, and filled with colorful turns of phrases that I found really entertaining.  The story is set in a fictional medieval setting, but there's a modern flair to the dialogue that, while not quite in keeping with the feel of the setting to me, was still enjoyable because it was incongruous and humorous.  This is an involving tale with a fun protagonist and some shocking twists and turns.  It also has some dark moments, which was surprising to me, but fitting for the development of the characters.  This book wasn't a perfect read for me, but the skill in which the author created these characters and the intricate plot was fantastic to see, and once I got into the story, it was easy to immerse myself in the adventure.

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