So before I get into my review of this, one of my favourite books, I want to talk about some changes I’m going to be making. As a rule, when I haven’t had work to do, I’ve liked to post twice a week, once on Wednesday and once at the weekend. Exam period has made this more difficult, and after not having read a book for last week I think something needs to be done. Hopefully I will occasionally still get guest reviews of books to put up here for when I don’t have time. But for now I’m going to introduce a Midweek Memory (heh heh alliteration) thing..let’s call it a segment. In this ‘segment’ I will write a review of a book that I’ve read in the past, either that I’ve loved (such as the review below) or that I think will be of interest to those of you who read this. If possible I will still be trying to read two books a week, however if this is not possible it will be replaced by a ‘Midweek Memory’ book. I will still be posting books I have JUST read at the weekends regardless of what happens for the Wednesday post. Telling you all this might not be interesting to you, reader, but I’m putting it down here in order to force myself to do it. I haven’t been doing this for long, but I felt it very much when I didn’t anything I’d written for a whole week.
Now here it is, my first Midweek Memory: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This is the first instalment of one of my favourite fantasy series. The third book came out this year, and four more are expected of this, the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ heptalogy (and yes I had to look up that word). So far the books are The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies, and most recently, The Republic of Thieves. Don’t they all sound so cool? I know I thought so.
I received the first book as a prize in school (which I chose) for something like Design Technology, I don’t know why, and one of the English teachers there saw it and said, ‘Ah, I’ve been wanting to read that’ – one of the first indications in my life that normal adults read fantasy too, and not just the expected demographic of overweight single men in their mid-thirties living in their parents’ basement. Not so. Not always, anyway. For the rest of the world, it was Game of Thrones that changes their minds about fantasy for grown ups. For me it was this book.
I’ll give you the blurb for this one, because it sounds just that awesome.
The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman,
a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls.
Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor.
The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.
Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn.
Doesn’t that sound great? Locke Lamora is the head of a band of thieves called ‘The Gentlemen Bastards’. We get most of his tragic orphan backstory through brief interludes. We open in medias res, which is a pompous literature student way of saying, in the middle of the action. Locke and his posse are in the middle of an elaborate con which involves him, in disguise, being fake-throttled by two ‘assailants’ who are part of his crew. The con is only the front of the action.
Behind the scenes, Locke and his troupe must pay homage to Capa Barsavi, head of the criminal underground. But even beyond that, darker shadows are stirring….dun dun duuun.
Things I liked
This will probably be the longest section in this review. So let’s start where I always start.
The characters. The chief bromance between Locke and Jean has them bickering like a married couple (like all the best bromances), saving each other’s life, and discovering that they are each other’s biggest weaknesses. The Gentlemen Bastards themselves. Father Chains, an eyeless priest who is neither blind nor a priest, who takes in little orphan boy Locke and teaches him the tricks of the trade. Sabetha Belacoros, the love of Locke’s life. Absent in this book but her presence is woven throughout Locke’s character. Finally reading the Republic of Thieves and SHE IS HERE. I’ve waited so long for this.
The world. Camorr is dangerous, exciting, and feels totally real. Later in the series we get to see more of the world, it’s beautifully imagined.
The interludes – useful exposition tool, very interesting. But I did skip them for the second reading.
The gore. Not afraid to rub broken glass on someone’s face or have their flesh burnt off, Lynch’s world not only says it’s dangerous, it shows you.
Unfair amount of major characters dying (yes this is in the right section). He almost rivals the great evil George R. R. Martin – who actually wrote a quote for this book, if my recommendation isn’t enough for you.
Following on from that, the story itself. It twists and turns, sometimes in ways you expect, sometimes in ways you don’t think are an option in fiction, but follow your idea of reality. Locke is an expert thief and a brilliant liar, but inevitably he screws up sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean quite a lot. To err is human, and Lynch’s characters certainly err just the right amount.
The writing style. Unselfconscious, witty, fast-paced, clever. It works. Almost worth waiting four (those who were on the ball would have had to wait six) years between Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic Of Thieves. Almost. (sidenote: the next book is expected to be out next year. Seems that was just an anomaly – fingers crossed!)
Things I didn’t like
Lynch once uses the phrase ‘came to a crescendo’. That is offensive to musicians, and just plain wrong.
Should I read this book?
Yes. And, since I discovered it has now been demoted to be £2.99 in The Works (sob), you have no excuse not to.
* * * * *
The Book Depository
You can buy the book here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Lies-Locke-Lamora-Scott-Lynch/9780575079755/?a_aid=SpidersLibrary
Because I am trying not to use Amazon in my own half-arsed protest-y way, I’d like to recommend to people that they check out The Book Depository, which is a great, user-friendly site with affordable books ranging from brand new releases to classics, and in many different editions at less-than brand new prices. As I am now officially an affiliate of The Book Depository, I gain a small commission if you use my affiliate link to buy books! Please do check it out, even if you don’t buy anything right now.