The Lies of Locke Lamora
By Scott Lynch
Paperback, 720 pages
2007, Del Rey
The city of Camorr is crawling with thieves, but one little boy is particularly inventive in his schemes and is given over to Father Chains, priest at the temple of Perelandro for some more specialized training. And so Locke Lamora grows up trained by the best, to be the best of thieves with his band of merry men called the Gentlemen Bastards. Stealing from the rich and hiding most of their success from fellow thieves, the Gentleman Bastards have everyone fooled. That is, until the Grey King rolls into town and begins murdering the leaders of the most powerful gangs. Locke and his crew get pulled deeper into the plot than they realized and must find a way out again before it’s too late.
I found this novel to be incredibly exciting and so I think that my own little blurb is pretty lame in comparison. At ten pages in I was already excited and ready to recommend this book to whoever would listen to me blather on about it.
I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, for fear of giving away any twists. So I’ll say the world building was fantastic – there’s a lot of depth to Camorr, with all its different districts and a rich history involving mysterious creatures called the Eldren (who I’m dying to learn more about!). I feel like Lynch’s detail is on par with that of George R. R. Martin, and with a 720-page trade paperback, the depth is there as well – but there are far fewer characters to worry about, so have no fear. I read another review (sorry, I forget where) where the writer compared this to a sort of old-school Ocean’s Eleven and I can totally understand where they were coming from. There’s double-crossing and triple crossing and just when you think you have the plot figured out, another twist comes up. It was hard to put this book down!
I also loved the characters – the band of thieves had a wonderful sense of camaraderie and brotherhood and I was rooting for them at all times. Locke is a complete wiseass and a bit of a tool, but that’s right up my alley so I loved him. He’s not a thief with a heart of gold by any means, but he cares deeply for his companions and he’s loyal. Lynch hops back and forth between the past and present, giving more depth to the characters as the plot progresses. Sometimes I find this device to be confusing, but he jumps back to the past just often enough to flesh out his characters and add suspense to the present, but not so much that I lost track of the plot.
This book was a blast to read and if you like fantasy and adventure and theft and violence and foul language and fun all rolled into one, then definitely pick up The Lies of Locke Lamora. I can’t wait to read book two (in my new favorite series), Red Seas Under Red Skies.
*cover image from Google