Book: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard 1) by Scott Lynch
Release Date: June 27th 2006
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.
Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn’t invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.
Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city’s underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive…
As a fantasy reader there tend to be a few series you hear a lot about on that you have to read it. Gentleman Bastards and its first book The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of those. And what I’ve heard, sass and thieves, sounded good but still I stayed away from it even though it was on my shelf. I have a tendency to be disappointed by hyped up books. But a buddy read with Dina prompted me to finally give it a go. And it was not quite what I had expected.
I think what confused me at first was the writing style. The way the story was told. The book is divided in a few parts. And each chapter is followed by an interlude. Each chapter is also divided into numbered scenes that move back and forth in timeline. Number one will be a scene start, number two will be from a few hours ago, and number three is back at the time of number one and so on.
You can imagine this taking a lot of getting used to. I am certainly no fan of the numbered scenes in chapters. However the first 150 pages I started getting used to it as I was drawn in to the story. I quite enjoyed seeing the young Locke and Jean through the interludes. But later on in the book we got some history of the city through the interludes and those bored me a bit. I think that information could have been incorporated a little differently. I would have preferred to have gotten more young Locke and Jean.
I also might say that I think some scenes could have done without a bit less detail. There is so much detail on food for instance or background that it leaves little to the imagination and sometimes get a little tedious. Still it does well to shape the world of the city and even a little beyond. However I don’t think the world is the strength of this book.
The start to the story next to that is very slow. They are busy with a thieving job that we are following them through. For me the first 200 pages focused too long on this. It took that long to really get a good glimpse at the plot. But once I did get into it and once the characters had drawn me in, I was sold on this book. There are surprises here and there in the plot for me which I always applaud.
‘You’re one-third bad intentions, one-third pure avarice and one-eight sawdust. What’s left, I’ll credit, must be brains.’
The strength of this book are the characters. Locke, a smart thief but who is weak in a fight. Jean who is a good fighter, kind but also has a terrible temper. The twins who are endearing. And brave young Bug. Of course I don’t have to say that some of my favorite side characters of course get killed off. Because why not, right, Scott Lynch? I have a soft spot for Jean. But I also quite grew attached to Lock who showed himself a great gentleman in moments. But there are more characters than these mentioned. Each colorful in their own way. The dialogue amongst the Gentleman Bastards is brilliant. So much sass in there. I read with a half smile on my face whenever any of them were together.