Updated on April 5, 2018
3. ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch
One of the good things about joining a book club, I’m beginning to learn, is that you end up reading things you otherwise wouldn’t. That’s how I came to read The Lies of Locke Lamora – the first in a fantasy series that I probably would never have picked up under my own steam. I’m glad I did, though, because it was a good read.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is set in a crime-riddled, Venice-like city called Camorr. Living in the dark underbelly of this city is Locke, a member of the Gentleman Bastards, a group of five master deceivers and thieves who have spent their lives learning to lie, trick and dodge in order to steal a fortune from the city’s nobles. Everything seems to be going well for the Gentleman Bastards under the leadership of Capa Barsavi, who oversees all the city’s criminal gangs, but when a powerful rival appears for Barsavi’s position, the Gentleman Bastards find themselves in a world of trouble.
Lynch does a fantastic job of creating the city in this novel. It feels like a real place, and each district has its own distinct character. Locke and his cronies clearly know Camorr inside out, and its fascinating to see how they use their rich local knowledge to run their schemes. I also loved the hints at a previous, possibly alien civilisation which has left behind structures in Camorr made from indestructible ‘Elderglass’; the humans live in these remnants now, with no knowledge of who created them or why. My favourite is the garden of glass roses: extremely lifelike roses made of glass so sharp that it will drain all the blood from your body if you happen to touch one.
This book has a very intricate plot – there’s a lot of deception and trickery – but I didn’t feel lost at any point. Locke makes an enigmatic leader of the Gentleman Bastards, and his quick thinking allows him to come up with extremely complex plans on the fly. Sometimes I thought these plans were a bit of a stretch (he gets quite lucky sometimes) and occasionally I felt that Lynch was throwing in another clever con just because it had been a while since the last one. Still, it’s entertaining reading, and there’s that satisfying feeling all the way through of a ragtag team triumphing over the odds.
The story skips back and forth in time, interrupting the main plot with ‘Interludes’ which describe Locke and his friends’ early lives, and how they came to be the talented tricksters they are today. The ending both sets up for the next book and gives a satisfying conclusion to this one, although I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series. I suppose I usually avoid fantasy because it can be quite formulaic, and The Lies of Locke Lamora certainly fell into that groove in places (i.e. an unquestionably evil villain; our lead characters being heavily layered with plot armour), but it was still good fun to read. If you want an adventure romp set in a highly detailed city populated by lovable rogues, this book will certainly scratch that itch.
“Some day, Locke Lamora, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee.”
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Want to read it? You can buy the book here.