Book review of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora
Let the sun shine down. On the other hand, if its looking overcast, there’s always the Falselight.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is an action-packed romp through high-society, with characters masquerading as everything from the lowest low-life to the most regal dandy and everyone else in between. With hints of the fast-paced nature of The Da Vinci Code, the book jacket describes it as one part Robin Hood and one part Ocean’s Eleven, and the tale more than lives up to this description. This book has all the best of the thieving lifestyle, from scaling towers six stories high, to impersonations of city officials, to some really sticky fight scenes. While the accessibility of this book will appeal to just about anyone, there are definitely a few moments that would be hard to swallow for a younger crowd. This is an extremely fast-paced action adventure, broken up by flashbacks that somehow don’t hinder the pace in any way but only heighten the anticipation of getting back to the main storyline.
Locke Lamora and his band of Gentleman Bastards roam the streets of Camorr, taking part in all kinds of fantastic city intrigue. Its no wonder that the rights to the film have already been picked up by Warner Brothers. There are so many good one-liners and situational scenes in this book, its hard to imagine it not translating to the big screen.
Lynch does an above average job of characterization with the different members of the band, as well as the other citizens and denizens of Camorr. The hero Locke is anything but; he’s your average Joe, or at least he appears to be. Not having above average physical qualities certainly can have its advantages when theiving is your main source of income in a major port city. His supporting band of Gentleman Bastards are the cream of Camorr’s thieving crop. The background of each character is painted nicely, with new aspects and details of their training surfacing throughout the novel. While you come to love Locke and his band of thieves, the mob bosses (which Lynch refers to as “Capas”), and other various characters truly bring this novel to life.
The various escapades take place to the backdrop of the city of Camorr which is original as it is deadly. From true beauty to obscene brothels, this book runs the gambit of city life. Scenes range from the most miniscule, dingiest bar you could imagine to the grandest of the grand stages. From new takes on ancient Roman Colosseum-style fighting, to an intricate network of towers and lavish festivals, Lynch paints a vivid picture of an ancient (or modernly regressed?) city in its prime.
What really shines in Lamora’s first effort is his ability to constantly build up the sense that there’s absolutely no way Locke and his fellow thieves are going to be able to accomplish their current task at hand, only to have them weasel their way out, around, or straight through whatever seems to be in their way. Coupled with fantastic dialogue, this is a one-two punch that can’t miss. One scene in particular stands our where we find Locke is haggling with a store merchant. Its simply some of the best fast-paced dialog I’ve read in years. Lynch captures moments like I’ve never read on paper. They range from the intense:
Let’s start wobbling, shall we? said Locke’s knees, but this offer was met by a counterproposal from his better judgment to simply freeze up and do nothing, like a man treading water who sees a tall black fin coming straight at him.
To the just plain hilarious:
“What?” Sofia squeaked like a girl of eight. A particularly squeaky girl of eight, much accustomed to squeaking, loudly.
Note to self: Use the same word three times in two sentences the next time I’m trying to be funny.
Rarely does a novel come along that is as brilliantly woven as Scott Lynch’s first venture into the fantasy genre. The Lies of Locke Lamora truly sings a sweet symphony of subterfuge. I have to say that this is the most complete action fantasy novel I have ever read. It will be interesting to see where Lynch takes it for the next six novels. If there are as many twists and turns as he’s delivered in his first book, this is one reader who will be back to join the Gentleman Bastards on many, many adventures to come.
You can purchase The Lies of Locke Lamora over at Amazon.com.