The Lies of Locke Lamora is Oliver Twist meets Once Upon a Time in America, if it was about the Artful Dodger. It was a lot of fun with great dynamics between characters, ingenious plots and a very dislikable baddie. Whenever I read lists of the best fantasy books, The Lies of Locke Lamora is always right up there so I knew it was time I gave it a go and it did not disappoint!
“The only person who gets away with Locke Lamora games, is Locke, because we think the gods are saving him up for a really big death. Something with knives and hot irons … and fifty thousand cheering spectators.”
Locke Lamora is the infamous leader of a gang of thieves and cons – known to all as the Gentleman Bastards. It’s a catchy name and suits the gang perfectly. Locke has been raised since childhood to make a living – a healthy one at that (well maybe not healthy but you know what I mean) – stealing money from those dull enough to prevent it. Locke quickly wins you over as he and the gang show off how clever they really are. I love a good hustle.
Scott Lynch has very fluid and enjoyable prose. It is intelligent, keeps you on your toes, witty and subtle. The characters are written well with distinct voices and they have, especially the gang, a fantastic dynamic that fits together very well. The gang are excellently written, characters like Jean Tannen (total legend) and the young Bug (enthusiastic and a lot of fun) made me laugh and hooked me into the story. Locke himself is one of my favourite main characters of a fantasy series. He is not amazing all the time, he is not a world-class fighter, he’s clever and daring – like George Clooney in Ocean’s 11.
“My name’s Jean Tannen, and I’m the ambush.”
There are two simultaneous timelines here merged between each other, with a present day Locke Lamora fleshing out the bulk of the story whilst interludes of a much younger Locke Lamora fill in gaps. I’m usually not a fan of multiple timelines but this worked really well, it was clear and added a lot of depth to the story and character of Locke.
The world building is brilliant. There are lots of features that make it a unique fantasy setting, such as The Godfather style gangs, the renaissance-Italy style cities and technology, the shark arenas and it was seeping with history. It definitely didn’t read like a debut novel, feeling much more established and polished, I was impressed.
“You’re one third bad intentions, one third pure avarice, and one eighth sawdust. What’s left, I’ll credit, must be brains.”
4.5/5 – I really enjoyed this tale, just not quite loved it. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a great Book 1 and I loved the getting up to’s of the gang of Gentleman Bastards. There was a lot to keep me hooked and the action and twists were non-stop. It was clever and witty and the characters really made it a great fantasy book.
Buy The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch