Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Author: Scott Lynch
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Lies of Locke Lamora has been on my TBR for a while, but I have always avoided it as it sounded like a bit of a sausage fest. The book does lack prominent female characters, but it somewhat makes up for it with the strength of the ladies who do feature (I need Sabetha!). What’s more, it’s dark, it’s entertaining, and it’s not afraid to stick a blade right into your heart.
“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
While the main plot of the book features heist, treachery and more mutinies than you could shake a stick at – the heart of the novel lies in the epic bromance that is the Gentlemen Bastards. I am a huge fan of the ‘family that you choose yourself’ trope, so Locke and his gang of misfits tickled at my heartstrings. Make no mistake, they’re neither gentle or loving to one another – preferring to trade insults to niceties. Yet, through flashbacks and banter, the reader could feel the camaraderie between Locke and each of the member in his team. Morally ambiguous characters who look out for their own? Basically a set up after my own heart.
“I don’t have to beat you. I don’t have to beat you, motherfucker. I just have to keep you here… until Jean shows up.”
I liked that Locke had a completely different relationship dynamic with each of his crew member. It allowed for each individual character to shine, and readers to truly become invested in these bonds. There’s the mischievious Sanza brothers, Calo and Galdo – always quick to tease Locke, yet also most loyal. Little Bug, impulsive and eager to prove himself to older crew mates. The ever constant and dependable Jean Tannen, unassuming and deadly. I love seeing them interact with one another, and seeing how Father Chains trained them in the flashback.
“We’re a different sort of thief here, Lamora. Deception and misdirection are our tools. We don’t believe in hard work when a false face and a good line of bullshit can do so much more.”
Speaking of Father Chains’s training, I found sections of the book which dealt with deception and swindling to be its most fun. The Gentlemen Bastards particularly target the wealthy and proud, seeing how they used expectations and appearances to their advantage was quite the ride. Scott Lynch’s easy and sharp-witted writing just adds to my delight.
“Someday, Locke Lamora,” he said, “someday, 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. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”
Although most of the book was wildly entertaining, I appreciated that The Lies of Locke Lamora dared to go to dark places and take difficult roads. It would have been so easy to make Locke and the Gentlemen Bastards own all their exploits and emerge grinning. Yet, the plot throws many wrenches in Locke’s best laid plans, and the death toll is shockingly high for a book that started all banter and petty tricks. I liked that our protagonists were in true danger at some point, and they definitely did not emerge unscathed.
The worldbuilding laid the foundation to a much richer world which I am excited to explore in future books. The city of Camorr is loosely based on a medieval Venice, with once charming waterways turned sinister by presence of vicious sharks and the shadow of the criminal underworld. The city was another character unto itself, treacherous and filled with secrets. I also loved seeing the rise and fall of rival gangs, and how Locke navigated the beauracracy of criminal societies with poise.
I mentioned earlier about the lack of female characters in this book, it makes me sad because all the females who DO appear and freaking fabulous. Nazca, Dona Salvara, the Berengias sisters, were each fiece and had their own story independent from the men they’re with. Unfortunately, we got to see very little of those stories. Yes, the women were awesome, but I wish they got more limelight.
Needless to say, I’ll be checking out the rest of the series and hoping ardently for Sabetha to make an appearance. I’m in love with her already!