The Lies of Locke Lamora

Scott Lynch
The Lies of Locke Lamora Cover

The Lies of Locke Lamora


A swashbuckling, cheeky romp that's impossible to put down. Why oh why have I waited this long to read it.

It's business as usual for Locke Lamora, the Thorn of Camorr, priest of Perelandro the heretic God of Thieves and mastermind of the Gentlemen Bastards when they ensnare the Don Salvara in a con to make off with half his fortune. But then came Gray King, and the war for Camorr's underworld. A war in which both sides demand the Thorn's aid. As the sharks begin to circle and the stakes turn bloody, it takes every bit of guile the Gentlemen Bastards have combined just to stay alive.

When you've got friends with the same reading tastes as yourself, its rare for a book to live up to the hype that gets generated around it by them. It leads to experiences such as that I had with Frank Herbert's Dune. And that's a problem I definitely didn't have with The Lies of Locke Lamora. Every bit as fun, engaging and bloody as I was promised, I've got no choice but to add my voice to the screaming legions of fantasy fans holding this up as one of the most entertaining fantasy reads in years. It's just plain fun. Who doesn't love a good confidence game?

The star of the show is Scott Lynch's excellent writing. Fluid, smooth, engaging and loaded with humor, it's quite simply an unforgettable experience in the offing. This is a book meant to have a fun feel but with a sense of gravity when events begin to take a bloody twist, and this is a line Lynch carefully treads. A lot of fun books sometimes overdo it and completely ruin the gravity, the fury, the desperation, that really drive home how serious an event is supposed to be, and that was actually my major concern coming into this book. But Scott Lynch simply pulls it off, beautifully. Rarely can I recall reading such a lengthy book and having it feel like it absolutely zips by, like it should be longer. Absolutely incredible, and so engaging you're going to loathe every minute you have to spend doing something other than reading it.

Locke is as engaging a lead character as they come. A clearly flawed man, he's fleshed out to an amazing degree; when events come up that puts him in completely different situations from those we normally see him in, it just fits, because of how carefully and painstakingly Lynch crafts his psyche. The interludes that vaguely foreshadow the coming chapters also help to build this connection, slowly introducing us to the characters and allowing us to take their actions in stride, with not a single jarring note occurring. My only complaint on that front is that by comparison to almost everyone in the book, Jean Tannen just feels paper thin, a cookie-cutter character who never gives me cause to re-evaluate that impression. Lynch could have just not written him into the entire last half of the book, and I couldn't care less what happened to him or why he didn't appear. Even the Sanza twins felt like they had more personality than him, and they both felt like the same person at times. I loved reading about Bug, though.

As far as worldbuilding go, Lynch combines the occasional vision with an interestingly varied set of fantastical elements to give the world a unique feel. Camorr reads like a faux-Venice, except one built on the ruins of an ancient civilization with indestructible glass towers littered around the place that now mostly play home to the nobility. It's a fun setting that really compliments the fun nature of the main characters and the inherently fun writing style; I keep using the word fun to describe everything about this book because there just wasn't anything about it that wasn't fun in some way. However, it is a setting with a darker side, as the ghettos that home the underworld reveal, combined with the barbaric celebrations they mark occasions with. It's a setting that perfectly compliments the type of story Lynch sets out to weave.

All of that combined with a meta plot loaded with cons within cons, a main character whose wiles are his best weapons, who fails as often as he succeeds, and whose actions tend to come back to bite him at the most random, curious moments, makes it a book that's just absolutely hard to put down. It's a story that ultimately culminates in an intense finale that still manages to play true to its swashbuckling nature; a cheeky story that can by turns have you laughing or get bloody. Which, come to think about it, is also a pretty good description for Camorr and it's inhabitants.

There's just no denying it. The Lies of Locke Lamora was everything I've been promised and more, an humorous, intense, engaging romp that'll leave you on the edge of the seat if it doesn't have you falling off laughing. If you haven't read this as yet, but it's on your to read list, quit denying yourself and get to it. If it's not on your reading list, it should be. And call in sick for a day or two, because when Scott Lynch gets his hooks into you and starts to ratchet things up a notch, you're going to loathe having a life. Heavily recommended.