The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora is a little hard to describe. On the surface, it is a 504 page novel by Scott Lynch. At the end of the novel, I noticed it’s library categories: Swindlers and Swindling, Robbers and Outlaws, Orphans, and Gangsters, and none of that sounds interesting to me, even now that I’ve read this book. Let me tell you, although those categories may seem to fit, it’s only because this book not only blends and crosses over genres, it completely ignores them.

Setting had a huge impact on the story, as it was set in some pseudo magical Renaissance Italy–possibly Venice as there are a lot of water-based scenes and I can just imagine how it probably smelled. There is an interesting religion set up in this country (multiple countries are described and given their own religions–huzzah for world-building!) which deals with 12–or 13, depending on who you ask–patron saints of a myriad of everyday things. Saints of each god are revered, even by those with no reverence for anything.

The plot is almost too large to talk about as one thing. So much goes on in this book that by the time I was done with it, it felt like I had gone on a whirlwind ride. The story starts out with young Locke Lamora being sold to a priest of Perelandro, Lord of the Overlooked, who resents buying him because he is a thief with illusions of grandeur that got some of his thiefly peers killed. Chains, the fake-blind priest of Perelandro, raises Locke with two other initiates, Calo and Galdo. They learn fine etiquette, languages, mummery, and much more.

After his lessons, Locke becomes a superb Gentleman Bastard. His exploits are fantastical and fun and daring and dangerous and everything I wanted even if I didn’t know I wanted them. In the beginning, I wasn’t convinced that I was going to like this book. It moved a little slowly, and I was unsure of this little thief, this orphaned little lying Locke Lamora fellow. After a while, however, Scott Lynch found a way for me to love this book. I would like to just say it was magic, but it was a lot more than that. The characters were just brilliant and the story and action moved so fabulously well.

In another major section of the book, Locke has to deal with the Gray King, a man who basically has everyone in his shark-infested pockets. This is where we get a good taste of magic, a disturbing and dark kind of magic only held by men who have murdered every other kind of mage in the world in order to show their power. It’s convincing. This is what I hope gets built on in the following books–the world history and crazy stories of people who’ve gone way too far and somehow succeeded. Also, more magic, because I can never get enough of that.

In the end, I felt a little sick by how disturbing the revenge games get. Buildings are burned, many people lose their lives, even more lose their money, and there is some twisted backstabbing that happens. While all that made me uncomfortable, it was what made the book. The story needed those things, and the characters needed them even more. Each character is so driven by their own needs that they really come alive. Lynch makes you really care about these once scruffy thieving kids who manage to worm themselves into each others’ hearts.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is more than a book; it is a journey. Watching the initiates of Perelandro grow up to be scoundrels is the most fun I’ve had with a book I was hesitant to read after a slow beginning. Ever. It wasn’t what I expected, because I went in with practically no expectations except for a recommendation. So here’s mine: read it and enjoy.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch | Realm of Reviews
  2. Trackback: Summer Reading | Realm of Reviews

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