Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series: Gentleman Bastard (#1)
Author: Scott Lynch
In short: absolutely amazing. A fast, engrossing plot, bursts of humour, and a gem of a main character.
Goodreads: An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.
A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.
Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.
Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…
“Sometimes I think this whole city was put here simply because the gods must adore crime.”
This book, guys, this book. It’s one rollercoaster I would ride forever. The Lies of Locke Lamora has everything I love, let’s count:
- a high fantasy setting
- a canal-filled Venice-esque city-state
- thieving main characters
- smart-aleck humour
I immediately was reminded of an old favourite of mine, Cornelia Funke’s Thief Lord, and Lies is like Thief Lord meets Ocean’s Eleven (another thing I love). The story follows Locke Lamora, a young thief in the city-state of Camorr. Camorr is ripe with crime and the criminals can live in some measure of safety because of an old treaty between their capa (leader, like a mafia boss) and the Duke’s men. The one rule is that they don’t steal from noblemen—anyone else is fair game. The story alternates between young Locke and the unrest he causes in Shades Hill, and a twenty-ish Locke who’s running his own gang and—of course—stealing from the only people he’s absolutely forbidden to steal from.
I loved it.
Every bit, from the profane wisecracks to the enchanting city of Camorr, from the capa‘s fearless daughter to the Eyeless Priest. It’s exactly my kind of book: it’s witty, it’s quick, it’s fantasy, it’s mindblowing. And I am so not done singing its praises.
“But the four most fatal words in the Therin language are ‘Locke would appreciate it.'”
“Rivaled only by ‘Locke taught me a new trick,'” added Galdo.
“The only person who gets away with Locke Lamora games-”
“-is Locke Lamora-”
“-because we think the gods are saving him up for a really big death.”
Locke Lamora, guys. Locke Lamora. Totally unassuming in appearance, but here’s a secret: he’s brilliant. Not just as a person, as a character. He’s smart as heck, he’s an amazing conman on Artemis Fowl levels. And…he stammers, he can’t fight for nuts, and his mistakes send him on a slippery slope down to the depths of Ridiculous Actions and Crazy Stunts. His successful plots also hinge on Ridiculous Actions and Crazy Stunts too, though. I was cheering for Locke the whole book, from beginning to end. One thing I really loved is that unlike a lot of book with smart MCs, I’m not just bombarded with praises of how smart Locke is and how brilliant he is, I see it happen. I believe he’s an insanely good conman. I absolutely love him. But he wouldn’t be anywhere without his crew, of course.
“So that makes us robbers of robbers,” said Bug, “who pretend to be robbers working for a robber of other robbers.”
The supporting characters help this book shine—reckless young Bug, stout Jean and his way with swords, the mischievous Sanza twins, sharp and wry Father Chains. Every con is an actual team effort, and the author does an amazing job with knitting the crew together. They love each other, they lo–
Scott Lynch also has a way with his worldbuilding—a lot of people might consider his interludes and descriptions info-dumping, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. Camorr is such an interesting place, and Lynch makes sure you know enough to recognise places and people, to really love the city, but at the same time you don’t feel weighed down by the story. I cannot believe this was his debut.
All in all, this was a brilliant plot, great storytelling, and it took my breath away. I can’t wait to read the next ones!