After Mrs NW’s rather vague review of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, Mr NW offers a more insightful look at one of his favourite novels.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of those ones that crops up from time to time, and people tell you it is brilliant but you don’t quite believe them. I started reading online descriptions of the book and the most common was something akin to “Ocean’s Eleven in a dark fantasy world” or “awesome fantasy heist”. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of that. Eventually I decided to give it a go – and Perelandro’s balls am I glad I did!
Like many fantasy books, you do have to put up with a bit of world-building and scene setting in the beginning chapters. At first you begin to miss the knights and dragons you’re used to (and love dearly), and it feels like a struggle to begin with, but then you fall in love with this world that Scott Lynch has created. From the shining elderglass towers overlooking the city of Camorr to the dark and dank graveyard filled with tunnels infested by thieving orphans, there is so much to admire about the feel and atmosphere of this imagined world. Camorr really comes to life in the way Scott mixes his characters personalities in with the city and the events unfolding around them. This world is gloriously dark and filled to the brim with interesting and unpredictable characters.
Each twist and turn of the plot in this book is like a sharp whack on the head from an unknown assailant. At first the story feels like it is taking an interesting but somewhat predictable path until you find that the path actually ends at a cliff overlooking a dark eternal abyss. This is coupled with wit and situational humour all while the stakes are raised continually throughout the story. By the end you are so emotionally invested in the characters and what might be going to happen. You quickly lose any trust that the main characters will still be alive by the time you finish reading the last line.
When reading through the vast mountain of reader reviews out there, you’ll find that the majority of people like this book. But there are two main complaints that pop up amongst the nay-sayers (all of whom shall be taken to the heart of the Floating Grave for punishment) which are the profanity and Scott’s descriptions of the environment. Now, I understand that people are entitled to have an opinion but these people are just plain wrong! These two things are part of what makes this book so freaking amazing. The description is far from over-done and is woven into the story with subtlety to anchor you in the setting. Sure it’s easy to understand “Bob walked down a busy London street” but when you read “Bob walked past the elderglass towers of Camorr” you’re going to wonder what the heck elderglass is without a bit of explanation! The profanity is also done very well in this book. It is used both humorously and as appropriate to match the type of people involved in the thieving underworld of Camorr. Take this gem of a quote as an example if you do not believe me:
“Some day, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee.”
All in all I would say this book is a masterpiece and a must-read for any fantasy enthusiast. What’s more this book is the first in an ongoing series called the Gentleman Bastard Sequence. Books two and three (Red Seas Under Red Skies and Republic of Thieves) are also brilliant and the much anticipated The Thorn of Emberlain (fourth book) is expected within the next year or so. I am eagerly following the progress of The Thorn of Emberlain and I will be posting any updates here on my blog.