on February 15, 2008
Scott Lynch has a way with words reminiscent of George R.R. Martin; he creates a gritty world full of colorful and multifaceted characters. The plot is centralized in one city, a location fraught with intrigue and enough history to fill volumes with. There's an underbelly to the city, of course, which we are thrust into as we follow the cunning Locke Lamora's rise to infamy and his ultimate quest for revenge.
One of the charms of this book is the way in which Lynch tells the story; this is anything but a straight forward narrative. Throughout the "main plot" we are told intermittently about the history of Locke Lamora, his admittance into the criminal organization known as "The Gentlemen Bastards", and his training in the art of theft. Each of the characters presented is beautifully fleshed out, with their own histories, agendas and motivations, making for a believable and engrossing novel.
If you're a fan of grittier fantasy - gods, thieves, plot and intrigue, and (of course) fantastic story telling - then this is the novel for you.
on September 21, 2009
Even if his name appears on the front page of this book, I'll try not to mention George R.R. Martin in my review (oops! too late). Associating new authors with well known and established fantasy authors no doubt helps in selling books, but I find that this business practice is usually misleading such as in the present case.
The world created by the author is inspired by Italian city-states of the late Middle-Age. If it was not of the involvement of a mage, this novel could have easily been categorized as a fiction instead of a fantasy novel. This book can be read as a stand alone novel, and its story follows a single storyline.
The main character, Locke Lamora, is a con artist. The story focuses on the cleverness of Lamora and his ability to conceive bold plans and to improvise his way out of trouble. What is really interesting is that the reader is not left in the black with regard to Lamora's plans and motivations. As such, as a reader you feel like you are being part of his plans instead of only being a spectator of their outcome.
I however find that the ending was rather disappointing. This book shines because of the personality of its characters, and the events in the end are triggered by actions that were rather out of character (this is especially true for the mage mentioned above, but also for Lamora). Despite the ending, this novel is an 'absolute must read' for its entertainment value, and as such I give it five stars.
on January 22, 2015
A lot of work put in to make the details of character and place seem seamless. Once you are drawn into the story, it feels like a place you could walk in, hear and get lost in. (And maybe get hit over the head and have your change purse confiscated in.) Who's privileged, who's not. A thousand people in menial to common jobs. A city with a diversity of nieghbourhoods. A history of place and of the world. Characters in competition with one another... with and without being aware of it. It's very own pantheon of gods. Gods are prayed too, with no sign they deigned to listen, no evidence they had any motivation to participate, and yet... they almost seem to have a presence.
There are these bad guys and yet you are on their side. The bad guys who are the good guys. The 'Gentleman Bastards'. A team of thieves you root for. And their victims who rather deserve to be preyed upon; this upper crust whose fortunes were made by 'taking' in the past and maintained by taking even more; if they are so ready to give away their gold, can you blame a guy for taking it? Then... there are some other 'bad guys' (or are they good guys) with their own agenda.
I enjoyed reading this book. I often felt fully involved in the book, like watching a movie, and wondering how this seat of the pants plan could possibly go right or this well planned plan be unraveled by one misstep. You feel the bumps and cuts, the frustrations, the friendship of the team, as very good story telling engages you with the characters. I recommend the book and I myself am going to pick up the next book to read the Lie Lock Lamora has to tell.
For the first quarter of this story, all I kept thinking was "What's wrong with me? Everyone loves this book but I'm bored to death". It was filled with so much description of the town, the people, the clothing, etc that I actually had to put it down several times and force myself to pick it back up. I was so bored my mind started wandering, then I had to re-read what was boring me in case I missed something. I even read two other books during this period just to clear my mind.
I say this to prepare you because after that it becomes amazing. Many other reviews compare it to Ocean's Eleven and The Godfather. I totally agree that there are many similarities but this is so much more than those stories. The intricacies of the plot are incredible. Lynch must have spent a year just planning the story out before he wrote it.
This is the story of Locke Lamora, or at least it's the story of his best scheme so far, except fate throws a few wrenches into the works (which didn't happen in Ocean's Eleven). Locke is a thief with a gang known as the Gentlemen Bastards, in a town full of gangs who are ultimately overseen by the Capa. He doesn't directly control the gangs in what they do but they have to pay a percentage of their take and follow his rules to be able to stay. He's the "Godfather". The story stops in several places to flashback (they are all titled Interlude) to Locke's youth and how he got to where he is now.
It was very entertaining (after the aforementioned first quarter) and I would highly recommend it.
on August 2, 2010
Before writing my own review, I was compelled to read the others, and I was quite surprised at the different opinions expressed regarding this book. In light of this, I thought it might perhaps be useful to offer some of my own thoughts on this matter. I do agree with one review, a map would have been helpful, strictly for visualization of course; I was not terribly worried about it though. As was noted in other reviews, the geographical area covered by the book is quite small, but more importantly; this was not a story about the city, but about its interesting and varied denizens. I also thought the use of profanity was both cunning and humorous, especially when the author used it to display the contrast between Locke's breed and the noble elite. One thing that was not mentioned in the other reviews that I think deserves some notice was the use of metaphor by the author; they were quite colourful, and I found myself laughing out loud on more than a couple occasions. I only had two problems with this story from beginning to end. The first, somewhere in the middle of the story; the main character made some very silly mistakes that did not suit his demonstrated abilities at other points in the story. At these points, the facade dropped a little, exposing the steel girders holding the story up, a little anticlimactic. My other main problem was that I spent most of my spare moments for two days reading that bloody book when I should have been getting my own work done. Over all it was an excellent story with very little in the way of defects; I would recommend it to anyone who likes good fiction, regardless of the genre.
on August 29, 2009
To fans of Charles Dickens' timeless classic "Oliver Twist", at least the opening scenes of Scott Lynch's ground-breaking epic debut novel will seem familiar. Locke Lamora, an impoverished, hungry orphan on a distant world reminiscent of medieval Venice, is captured off the streets and sold into servitude to the Eyeless Priest, a thief and con who, like Fagin, feeds and houses his crew of urchins while teaching them to live off the avails of thievery.
Lamora's precociousness, his easy-going flamboyance, his skill and intelligence, his artistry and imaginative ability to craft rock solid confidence games, his audacity and cock-sure bravado combined with his obvious love of life ensure that when the Eyeless Priest passes on, he falls naturally into the role of leadership of a group of best friends and clever cons who style themselves "The Gentlemen Bastards".
Lamora's plans to fleece the nobility out of their wealth put him into a difficult conflict with "the secret peace", an unwritten truce that exists between the Duke of Camorr and Capa Raza, the de facto ruler of all of the gangs including, of course, "The Gentlemen Bastards". Basically, crime is accepted and the local constabulary looks the other way provided, of course, the crime is directed at only the common people and the nobility are left alone.
When a shadowy character known only as "The Grey King" assassinates Capa Raza and usurps his position as the local crime boss, Lamora and the rest of his gang find themselves truly between a rock and a hard place. Now they are hunted by both the Duke's secret police, The Midnighters, and the Grey King's relentless enforcers that include, among other things, a powerful mage and an all-seeing fierce pet falcon with poisoned claws!
It is difficult to say enough good things about this incredible novel without appearing to actually froth at the mouth!
Characterization is positively brilliant and every character seems to be developed to such an astonishing degree as to actually leap off the page and into reality in the minds of the reader. I won't spoil the story by saying who dies, but when a couple of the good guys meet their nemesis, the characters have been so firmly built in the psyche of the reader that the effect is positively devastating!
Dialogue also deserves a full set of superlative compliments! Ranging from hilarious, comical strings of vulgar, medieval profanities that would make a longshoreman blush to upper crust court-speak that would be the envy of a Shakespeare in full blossom, Lynch's dialogue shows he is a master of conveying his story through conversation as well as descriptive narrative. And his descriptive abilities, by the bye, are not exactly low key either. Camorr is brought fully to life and Lynch's readers will have no trouble at all picturing a fully-realized jam-packed setting as his characters move from place to place in this fast-paced story.
Hie thee to the purveyor of fine books which is closest to thy hand and, with all due haste, read "The Lies of Locke Lamora", a picaresque fantasy of epic proportions in a gorgeous medieval setting. It's not mere hyperbole to suggest that this is the most exciting book I've read for a few years.
on February 9, 2010
A welcome addition to the "Rough Fantasy" genre, along with the likes of Esslemont and Erikson, or Martin. Fewer main characters (basically the Gentleman Bastards) and a slightly less fully developed world. Still, very entertaining, good character development, and a very nice treatment of alchemy/biochemistry. I am waiting for the next instalment.
on October 18, 2015
A "ripping good yarn" as the Brits might say. Very good writing in craft, imagination, wit and use of language. "Flashback" or "backstories" woven in seamlessly at cliff-hanger moments - so the reader can take a breath - which neatly set up possible resolutions. Other than friendship, loyalty, bravery and ultimately compassion, not the best depiction of human nature, very cynical, but the world Scott Lynch creates is believable. Not for the squeamish, e.g. convicts fed to sharks (a mild example), but if you are into ripping good yarns, this books for you.
on January 24, 2011
Scott Lynch, and therefore his characters, are extremely clever. His plot is intricate but not needlessly difficult to follow or convoluted. This book will appeal to fans of Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher), it is fast paced, has violent action and fighting, but is not gory or sadistic, and the characters are interesting and loveable. This book does not try to make some grand message about life or humanity, which I think has been done to death and I am not a fan of. It is just an action packed, fast paced roller coaster thrill ride, I cannot wait to read the next 3 in the series.
on July 24, 2015
I like the story and I like the world that Lynch begins to create with his first book in this series.
The dialogue between Lynch's characters is witty, quick, and carries a gritty undertone that serves to make them easier to relate to.
Perhaps, my one criticism is the lack of description of the setting, but that comes down to reader preference.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre.
Give it a read, you will not be disappointed.