The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Gentlemen Bastard #1)
Publisher: Gollancz on June 27, 2006
The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.View Spoiler »
Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves. The Gentleman Bastards.
The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they have ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive… « Hide Spoiler
While it took me forever and a day to read Scott Lynch’s fantastic debut THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, every moment was a joy. In more than 500 pages, I was never once bored or distracted, which I attribute largely to Lynch’s superhuman ability to craft compelling and three dimensional characters.
The Gentlemen Bastards are so much fun to read about, particularly their competitive shenanigans. But underneath the scheming and the bluster these guys are thick as thieves (HA). Their absolute loyalty to one another was really refreshing and heartwarming; while all the other characters are given to double and triple crossing each other the Gentlemen Bastards are above that…at least with each other. And thank god for that, because all the plotting and backstabbing started to make my brain hurt at about the ¾ mark!
While all the Gentlemen Bastard’s are brothers the relationship between Locke and Jean is what really takes center stage in THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. My favourite flashbacks were the ones that gave us a sneak peek into the beginnings of their partnership. There’s just something magical about a scrawny smartass and a dry-witted giant partnering up. #BROTP
In fact, the inclusion of a non-linear narrative in each chapter was one of the most impressive aspects of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. For those who haven’t read it (am I the last person to read this book?!), the majority of the book takes place in the present but it is interspersed with interludes that recount formative moments for the Gentlemen Bastards. These flashbacks are perfect because they do so much: they develop characters, the world building, and the plot. Flashbacks also lend themselves well to some perfectly placed foreshadowing, which is always a plus.
Scott Lynch’s gift for humour is one of the most beloved characterstics of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, so much so that I was expecting a considerably more light-hearted tale than what I got. Because guys, this book is dark. The final scenes made me sob like a baby and I loved it. Always nice to have a little catharsis after such a shocking and slightly traumatic read, you know?
One example of the subtly dark tone of this one is the use of wraithstone throughout Camorr, a poison that doesn’t kill the body – it kills the soul. Well actually it kills all aspects of one’s personality and free will, but that’s the same thing as far as I’m concerned. The process of using wraithstone on an animal or a person is called ‘Gentling,’ a name that definitely implies a certain creep factor. While in Camorr it’s only used on beasts of burden, it was once doled out as a punishment for criminals. Horrifying.
As much as I adored the world building, I admit that I was expecting a bit more on the ‘fantasy’ side of things. Lynch beautifully develops Camorr and it’s unique culture(s) but there’s not much magic aside from a few tidbits about alchemy and of course the Karthain Bondsmagi. My only other real complaint – and it’s a minor one – probably comes as no surprise: THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA is rather light on female characters. I get that the series is about the Gentlemen Bastards, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more badass ladies. That said, I was pleased to see so many background female characters in positions of power. Hurry up and introduce me to Sabetha already! We haven’t even seen her yet and I’m crushing almost as hard as Locke.
I loved THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA and absolutely adored the characters. So glad I finally took everyone’s recommendations to heart and took the time to read this one. If you haven’t read this one yet then 1) you clearly do not suffer from FOMO as much as I do and 2) get on that ASAP.