Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Series: Gentleman Bastard: #1

AT THE HEIGHT of the long wet summer of the Seventy-seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is a wonderful book… in the sense of a trainwreck. The wording does quite the job of elegantly describing just how messy and dirty and ugly the world Locke lives in is.

Bug ate it in six bites, dry skin and all, masticating the reddish yellow pulp as grotesquely as possible between his bright, crooked teeth.

On top of all that (in a manner of speaking), you have the Gentlemen Bastards. Ocean’s Eleven with a touch of Robin Hood, stealing amounts no one would believe in schemes where they literally tell the mark that they’re doing it… Wonderful. And at the core of it all… Locke Lamora.

“You’re all liars,” said Locke as their eyes turned expectantly to him. “We’re only doing this because nobody else in Camorr is good enough to pull this off, and nobody else is dumb enough to get stuck doing it in the first place.”

“Bastard!” They shouted in unison, forgetting their surroundings for a bare moment.

He brilliant and has a certain moral flexibility when it comes to other people’s rules, but he really cares for his Brother Gentlemen Bastards and in the end… he knows what’s the right thing to do.

Surrounding all of that, you have a fascinating magical world… with alchemical goodies and mages turned Mob and mildly terrifying magical artifacts from an age gone by:

Wraithstone smoke poisons nothing physical; what it does is burn out personality itself. Ambition, stubbornness, pluck, spirit, drive—all of these things fade with just a few breaths of the arcane haze. Accidental exposure to small amounts can leave a man listless for weeks; anything more than that and the effect will be permanent. Victims remain alive but entirely unconcerned by anything. They don’t respond to their names, or to their friends, or to mortal danger.

Pretty cool. And Locke et al don’t have any magic of their own and don’t lament the loss, which is a neat tack you don’t see overmuch in fantasy books.

And then you get halfway through the book and everything goes mad… No spoilers, it’s still well within scope, but there were a number of chapters there I read with mouth hanging open. Not afraid to shake up the established order, Scott Lynch.

Overall, a greatly enjoyable book. Well worth the read*. I look forward to seeing where in the world the sequels go from here…

  • There’s a lot of adult language and violent situations. Something to keep in mind if that’s not your thing.