Recommendation: the Lies of Locke Lamora

the Lies of Locke Lamora, Book 1 of the Gentlemen Bastard sequence, by Scott Lynch, 752 pages, Bantam, 2006, Amazon link)

This was a book that was a great fun to read.

The non-spoilery plot is roughly like this: Locke Lamora is an orphan and the head of a gang of his own in the city of Camorr. (He’s also a priest, but that would take a while to explain.) His chosen avenue of crime is the confidence trick, and he’s very good with it. Then very bad things start to happen. Some of them happen to Locke Lamora. And he bites back. And great entertainment ensues.

Plusses:

  • Plots. Locke Lamora, the main character, is a criminal, a confidence trickster. This leads to all kinds of outlandish schemes, some of them successful, others not. There’s one moment in the first third of the book which makes you upgrade your opinion of Locke from “a devious bastard” to “the utter father of all conniving devious bastards”; and another towards the end that makes you appreciate the power of walking like you know what you do, and carry the messages you say. (And in between one point where Locke is as deeply fucked as I’ve ever seen anyone be.)
  • Cursing. No, really. It’s refreshing to see a medieval world where people have actually invented foul words. (Two quotes: one a self-description of the main character — “I am the king idiot of all the world’s fucking idiots.” — and the other a description of his state during much of the book — “Oh yes, Master Lamora. Yes, I’d say you do have one hell of a fucking problem.”)
  • Did I say, medieval world? This means, in something quite rare, that the local theories and practices of medicine are… interesting. Every time someone gets battered, broken and beaten up, one starts wondering if they won’t be killed by the “medicine” instead.
  • And speaking of getting killed — oh, boy. People do.
  • The matter of names. Lot of the people and places have names that sound vaguely Italian, German or the like, and much to my surprise this didn’t bother me a bit. When I thought a bit on it, this made perfect sense — Tolkien’s Rohirrim had names in Old English, too. (Not to say that if it’s in Tolkien, it’s okay — I’m just saying that this extent of real-world borrowing isn’t some cheap and lazy heretical thing.) It’s an idea that works surprisingly well; the meanings of don and dona are easier to guess than, say, yarrgh and yarrghina-x.

Minus ( well, if I recommend something, it better not have too many bad parts!):

  • I haven’t read the sequels yet, so I must just say there are certain non-essential details I will be wroth because of if the author doesn’t tell the resolution of. (When semi-wroth I sound like that. To not sound like that I’m off to order the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies — dang, I love the names of these books — and since I have nothing else negative to say, that is it.)

Overall A+ and recommended to all, whether fans of fantasy or not.

2 Responses to “Recommendation: the Lies of Locke Lamora”

  1. Sharry Says:

    I really enjoyed this book! It’s so well written – the plot is fantastic and the ending is quite satisfying!

  2. jessicabookworm Says:

    I have also just read this book, I really enjoyed it. It was the perfect escape into such a richly detailed world. I have recommended myself on my own blog. x .

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