Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Re-read JS)

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (reread)

Review by Jacqui Slaney

With the recent publication of book 3 of this series, I thought I would refresh my memory of the characters and revisit the first two books before starting on the new one.

It had been a while since I had read about Locke and his friends, so hoped that my reread would not disappoint.

This is the description:

They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he is part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumour. And they are wrong on every count. Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich - they are the only ones worth stealing from - but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it's a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa's power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming. A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and the Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora . . .

Within a few pages into my reread, I soon remembered why I had liked this book so much. This is a debut novel which could have been a creation of a writer with years of experience, as the world that the reader is taken too is so complete and the characters so real.

This is a medieval world spiced with alchemy and bonds mage magic, but all cleverly handled and not overly done at all. The way everything is described, makes the world more real, as I have said in the past, passage on passage of descriptive writing can be detrimental to the plot with the reader crying out for some action. Here though there is no such problem, the world is built layer by skilful layer with no indigestible clumps of description and there is action enough for the most avid fan.  The Camorr criminal underworld is described well and the Capa who is the head of it all, has a method of seeking information not for the faint hearted.

Locke himself is a great creation, he is brilliant, cunning and arrogant, sure of his own abilities. You are shown his childhood and his growth into the Thief of Camorr by clever flashbacks. Sometimes these are used in books and are distracting to the main story, here though they add another layer to the characters as they flesh them out and make them more real.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jean’s training and the start of his friendship with Locke, who suddenly found out to his surprise that he was not quite as smart as he thought he was, and the formation of the Gentleman Bastards by Chains.

There of two main plot lines to this story, there is an extremely elaborate scam that Locke and his band are running which will bring them in a large haul of money. The other is about a power struggle that starts between the Capa and a mysterious figure called the Grey King; this turns very bloody and threatens not only the Gentleman Bastards swindle but their lives as well.

As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed everything about this book, I did think that my memory had played tricks and that maybe my rereading of the tale would show the faults that I had missed the first time round, but no, this is a polished article that I would recommend.

Though there is darkness in the story, with a fair amount of blood and death, there is humour too that makes the story fun to read, and I cannot wait now to re read the next.

10 out of 10