In an attempt to educate Mrs. NW, who is not exactly an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, Mr. NW each month assigns a classic novel.
I’m very familiar with this book. I’m fairly sure Mr. NW has read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch at least 3 or 4 times. In fact, half the time when I ask Mr. NW what he is going to read next (from his rather large collection that is taking over our hallway) he says I might just read Lies again. So by some miracle, he lent me his precious copy with strict instructions to not dog-ear the corners and I made a solemn promise to use the bookmark provided. I avoid bringing up the fact he wouldn’t have this problem if he used a Kindle.A bit of background on my reading history – I like to read but tend to go for action novels or detective stories or a Bill Bryson book. Terry Pratchett is probably the closest I’ve ever got to reading fantasy. The thing is I read really fast; I’m a skip reader. But this doesn’t work very well with sci-fi or fantasy novels. You just end up missing important bits and having to re-read sections over and over again. So I’ve never really had much patience for this genre. Mr. NW, as you might gather, is completely obsessed, and judges bookshops based on whether they separate sci-fi and fantasy or lump them all together.
So I take it The Lies of Locke Lamora is classified as fantasy? Does having some alien glass lean it a tiny bit into the sci-fi category? Or did Lynch just mean alien in the sense of foreign not outer space? Or are there some actual aliens in the sequel? That would be a great twist. Don’t spoil it for me! Are there rules about how a book is classified? What about ones that sit between the two categories? I mean surely some poor bookshop attendant must have to make a call on where to put the book. Maybe they should have a scale. 95% fantasy 5% sci-fi.
Well with that rant over, on to the actual book. I did in fact read it. The first couple of chapters essentially summarise the plot of Oliver Twist, with a lot of detail about Camorr thrown in. There’s a weird calendar, the seasons are strange and the naming of the years is just difficult to follow. There’s some girl Lamora is supposedly in love with who fails to actually show up at any point in the book. A bunch of people get killed Game of Thrones styles. There’s a pretty crafty plot where Lamora tries to swindle the Don and Doña out of their cold hard cash or should I say crowns. And then there are about a million pages dedicated to costume changes. In fact, I think there were more descriptions of clothing than at Paris Fashion Week. I’m pretty sure Scott Lynch is secretly a tailor!
Scott Lynch does make a good point in a recent interview about needing to balance the worldbuilding aspect of story telling with not boring people to tears.
It’s not all just, “Here’s the map and here’s your 50 pages of fucking background research. Memorize this so you can have fun with the story.”
Honestly, I did enjoy reading The Lies of Locke Lamora. The pace of the writing is good, there’s plenty of twists and it wasn’t too out there. It’s not going to make my top 10 list but I would certainly recommend reading it. All in all, not a bad choice, Mr. NW. Now I have to read the rest of the series before The Thorn of Emberlain is released…
What was your first experience with sci-fi/fantasy writing? Did you love the genre straight way or did you warm up to it over time?