The Lies of Locke Lamora

Scott Lynch
The Lies of Locke Lamora Cover

A fun, exciting, bloody ride


What a fun, exciting, bloody ride this book turned out to be. It's the perfect antidote to the dark, somber fantasy settings where people only crack a smile when it's vicious and fake. This is a fantasy setting with characters who know how to have a good time.

The idea of transposing a con artist into a fantasy setting is a simple and original one, and Lynch pulls it off pretty well. Locke Lamora and the Gentleman Bastards come across as conniving, clever, and sly. It's fun to watch them scheme to con a rich man out of his gold, moreso because they have fun doing it. Locke Lamora is a sympathetic character because of how happy he is in general, and because of how deeply he cares for his gang members.

The friendship between the Gentleman Bastards is what truly makes this book stand out. It shines off the pages, and the banter between old friends is funny and authentic. The way they worry for each other, and care for one another, gives a genuine emotional core to a story about duplicity and lies. It's a pleasure to watch evolve, and when this friendship is threatened, the result is a nail biting tale that engages the reader fully.

Another way in which The Lies of Locke Lamora breaks with tradition is in the manner it portrays its more clever characters. Locke Lamora himself is infinitely clever, but he makes mistakes, sometimes grievous ones. The same is true of both his allies and his enemies: they are smart, but not perfect geniuses with the prescience of the writer behind their every thought. This made the tale messier, in a positive way. Story con artists always seem to execute their plans like clockwork; but in so doing their tale trades dramatic tension and emotional resonance for the smoothness and emotional distance of a Rube Goldberg machine. Here, Lynch's choice of making even the smarter characters imperfect pays off in drama and emotion.

Overall, the fantasy setting is serviceable, if perhaps not that striking. But it's the characters that shine, especially Locke and his gang. They make me want to read the sequel, that's for sure.