Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Lies Of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch

The city of Camorr is a colourful, crooked, complex and unpredictable place, and home to the thief Locke Lamora who is all of these things and more. The Lies of Locke Lamora tells the story of his rise from a young orphan thief with a suspended death sentence for his recklessness to an apprentice priest and then a member of the crew of Gentlemen Bastards. The Bastards specialise in deception, relieving the rich of their wealth by running various types of elaborate cons.

One of these cons involves the Thorn of Camorr, a fabled swordsman, thief, friend to the poor, and mystery man. As a slightly built man who barely knows which end of a sword to hold, Locke isn't well prepared for taking on the role of the Thorn. But it's a role he must play convincingly when a criminal turf war threatens his life and those of his friends.

The narrative jumps back and forth in time, explaining characters' history and motivations. This makes for an intricately built story which matches Locke and his companions' complicated lives. Theirs is a tangled web of deceit and play-acting, and the stakes are high in their brutal yet colourful world. This is a world of gangs run by an overlord with an iron fist, of secrets and schemes, the kind of place that makes a spectacle of shark deaths and the roughest of justice.

Camorr is built on the bones of a dead civilisation of beings far more advanced than its current inhabitants. Everywhere there are buildings made of elderglass, an impenetrable substance that nobody understands or can destroy. So the city is decadent and degenerate down to its mysterious origins. There's more of a sense of things falling apart than of a new world about to be built.

The Gentlemen Bastards are a varied group of characters, several of whom share Locke's cheekiness, arrogance, and love of the games they play. They care more about the challenge of their ever-more elaborate cons than any money they make from them, although it wasn't always that way for all of them. The story builds to a tough showdown with a smarter opponent who seems to overmatch all of the Gentlemen at every turn.

I enjoyed this novel immensely, with its disparate band of criminals and the people they meet. Most characters lie somewhere on the spectrum between quite dodgy and fiendishly evil, so there's always fun to be had when they get together. It's fast-paced, intricately plotted, and beautifully imagined. Another endearing feature is the way the main characters don't conform to the typical heroic body type: Locke is small and weedy, whilst Jean Tannen is plump. Not only does this make them easy to relate to due to their human weaknesses, it also sets the pattern for a story that defies normal expectations of swashbuckling epic fantasy at every turn.

17th May 2017

Book Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Books

    Male Protagonist  
  Not For The Squeamish  

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5 star rating

Review ©

Source: own copy

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