The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Review by Joshua S Hill
When an author decides to interweave multiple stories together into a larger story, a lot of talent is needed to back up such an ambition. Some authors pull it off with an ease that leaves you breathless, and staggered at how – several books later – everything is tied up neatly. Other authors leave you giddy with confusion.
American born author Scott Lynch, in his book ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora,’ manages to adeptly weave the past and the present (or the present and the future) into a compelling and adventure filled romp.
Set in a world styled heavily after medieval Venice. Mob style crime lords run the real city while the nobility ignore the majority of what goes on below. Canals separate the city of Camorr into over a dozen islands, each with their own style, population, haunts and stereotypes. Lynch has a flare for detail and description, and though this can sometimes lead to excessive detailing, the picture he paints for those willing to read through the walls of text that sometimes creep up are beautiful.
The story itself focuses primarily on one Locke Lamora, once orphan boy now criminal mastermind in the style of Danny Ocean (from Ocean’s 11). Lynch swaps us – using chapters and interludes to time jump us – from Locke’s formative years as a petty thief and his education into the master criminal he would become to the criminal he became, in the middle of his crews most daring job.
But life is not so easy for The Gentleman Bastard’s, as Lamora’s crew is named. Amidst conning the nobility, keeping it a secret from everyone including their boss and the law, Camorr falls under the influence of the Gray King, who may be the only man in Camorr who can take on Locke.
Several minor flaws make appearances throughout the book however, that ever so marginally took me out of the book and into my editorial mindset.
For the majority of the book the perspective is set stoically behind the eyes of Locke Lamora. However, for whatever reason, Lynch occasionally swaps it out for a chapter (or less) simply to impart a small piece of information. One can’t help but consider other authors who have made do with a book entirely from the characters first person perspective who managed to impart all the necessary information and keep the perspective in check (Robin Hobb, for example). It seems at times as if the author has taken the easy way out, or simply placed an ad break in to keep the reader sweating for a few more pages.
Another frustration that seemed to riddle the book was the almost obsessive use of “swear” words. Though not against so called “obscene language” myself, the frequency with which it was used seemed to mirror that of a teenager attempting to make himself look cool in front of his peers by saying “fuck” as much as humanly possible. If life is against you, then fine, swear away; but I happen to know for certain that there are other words in the English language to express ones displeasure.
Those few things aside though, The Lies of Locke Lamora made for a spellbinding story. Locke is a character that you love, despite his foibles, and the deaths that take place leave a heart wrenching impact upon you, not the least of which is the suddenness and simple brutality by which they took place.
Filled with thievery goodness, hilarious turns of phrase and description, and some truly harebrained schemes, The Lies of Locke Lamora belongs on any fantasy fans bookshelf. You’ll laugh, you might cry, but I can damn well guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun as well!
Chris from Preston, UK
I loved this book, the pace crackled along faster than any blockbuster I've seen, the characters were relatable, and the twists were sharp without feeling forced or shoehorned. A must read, I can't believe this book only 7.8, AT LEAST a high 8 minimum, its 10/10 for me :)
Tom from Ohio
My opinion is the polar opposite of Kokor's. I found it original and fast paced although I didn't like the next book nearly as much.
Kokor Hekkus from The Beyond
I feel this book is overrated. As I read it I felt like I was watching a bad animated film. Just full of cliches and unfunny characters. Almost as if Disney took Pirates of the Caribbean and Oceans Eleven and made a combo cartoon. Couldn't stay interested and didn't care for the characters which is odd because I normally love anti-heroes and scoundrels. Boring and overrated.
Ryan from Canberra, Australia
This was one of the best books I read in 2008. I love a good heist story and to see it delivered as part of a dark fantasy world really blew me away. It was an original take on the fantasy genre and I had a lot of fun reading this book.
Danny from Leicester
At last a book to reinstate my love of fantasy literature. No need for dragons or elves, the skill of the writer is to invoke a world far enough removed from our own and yet with people we can imagine as real. The fantasy setting is wonderfully evocative and the violence, though sometimes extreme, is written to bring to life the struggle of the characters, and not just for gratuitous gore. A rating of 9 was awarded.
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