Science fiction and fantasy
The Lies Of Locke Lamora
by Scott Lynch
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
If you like this, try:Crown Thief by David Tallerman
Trouble is brewing for the thief who once stole a giant, and his developing conscience is not helping him to escape it. Book two of the Tales of Easie Damasco.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy
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