Tuesday 10 December 2013
#CBR5 Book 141. "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch
Rating: 5 stars
In the city state of Camorr, a small group known as the Gentlemen Bastards work and plot and scheme to lure the valuables from gullible nobles. Their cons are always elaborate and intricate, and done in such a way that their victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. Yet most of their peers in the criminal underworld of Camorr believe the Bastards to be petty thieves and pickpockets, nothing remarkable, but loyal and dependable in a fight.
Unfortunately for Locke Lamora, the leader of the little band, and his friends, their current victims start being suspicious of some of the stories they are told, and soon, the head of the secret police is preparing to finally catch the legendary bandit. As if that wasn't bad enough, someone else has discovered that Locke and his Gentlemen are much more successful criminals than they let on, and use this information to force Locke to help with an attempted power play against the current crime lord of Camorr, Capa Barsavi.
I first read The Lies of Locke Lamora over Easter in 2007, and was absolutely blown away by it. It was such a different take on what I believed epic fantasy must be like. Locke and his compatriots were such unashamed scoundrels, and had so much fun with their schemes. I've seen a lot of comparisons being made to Ocean's Eleven, and it's not difficult to see why. This is a heist book, and the gang believe themselves to be so much more clever than everyone around them. It makes it even more thrilling when it turns out that they are wrong, and someone may have outsmarted them. They may be in a whole heap of trouble, in fact. I read fast, with bated breath, to see how the story would be resolved.
Because it's been more than six years since I read the book, I'd forgotten a LOT of the intricate plotting. I'd forgotten the way Scott Lynch has with words and his wonderful world building. The descriptions of the city of Camorr, both its underworld and the wealthy areas. I remembered the camaraderie between Locke and his friends, and that their plans went a bit pear-shaped, but I hadn't remembered much of the details, and that made this re-read extra enjoyable. It's such a fun book, with twists and turns and genuine shocking moments. Some of it made me cry, some of it made me cheer, and bits made me almost queasy (Lynch doesn't shy away from his graphic description on occasion). The story of how Locke became a Gentleman Bastard and met his gang of thieves is told in flash back, in between the chapters with the main narrative. Yet Lynch has a way of showing how the early experiences made by our hero and his friends became useful learning for their present troubles, which means that both narratives are connected, and you never feel too annoyed at being taken away from something tense and dramatic in the present to read about things that happened long ago. I'm not doing a very good job of selling why this is an awesome book. If you like epic fantasy, just read it.