The Lies of Locke Lamora
by Scott Lynch
An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.
A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.
Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.
Known as the Grey King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Grey King at his own brutal game — or die trying…
The Lies of Locke Lamora has become a modern classic of the fantasy genre ever since its release in 2006, and it’s the kind of book that’s beloved by so many people that I was terrified to pick it up in case I didn’t like it. I needn’t have worried – this was so much fun!
Set in the fantastical city of Camorr, a city inspired by Venice, The Lies of Locke Lamora follows con artist and thief Locke Lamora and his gang, known as the Gentleman Bastards, on their latest scheme to bag a huge amount of money. Unfortunately for Locke and co., someone calling himself the Grey King has been ridding Camorr of its various gangs, and there’s every chance they’ll be next.
I love me some Italian-inspired fantasy, so I’m so pleased I ended up enjoying this novel as much as I did. Scott Lynch is one hell of a talented writer; the schemes he concocted were so clever and, much like Robert Jackson Bennett, I love the way he writes people in such a way that they leap off the page and I feel as though I might bump into them on the street. In fact Locke himself was a pleasant surprise!
Locke wasn’t the kind of character I thought he might be, and I’m glad he wasn’t. I’d seen Six of Crows, one of my favourite novels, compared to The Lies of Locke Lamora so many times that I assumed they were fairly similar in tone and that Locke was going to feel fairly Kaz Brekker-esque, but he isn’t at all. When horrible things happen to Locke’s friends, he cries about it, and it was so refreshing to read a book about a group of men who are friends and who aren’t afraid to show they care about each other or cry when they’re upset.
Locke is clever – remarkably so – and he’s excellent at playing the long game and predicting what a person’s next move will be, but he still has a moral compass that he sticks to and he values his friendships more than anything else. He so easily could have been a dudebro of the fantasy world, but Lynch doesn’t let that happen.
Locke’s friendship with Jean, in particular, was nothing short of perfection, and I want all of my friendships to be written like this from now on. Their determination to never let each other down is so pure – there’s a real ‘Robin Hood and Little John’ feel to them that I loved – and with all good friendship comes good banter. I laughed out loud several times while reading this book, and if a book can make me laugh I immediately adore it.
Reading this book felt weirdly nostalgic despite the fact that I’d never read it before; it gave me the same kind of feelings I had when I was 12 years old and I watched Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time. It’s fun and it has a darker edge, such as the multiple rather violent deaths throughout that remind you just how unsafe this world is, but Lynch never lets the novel feel miserable and that’s what made it such an enjoyable escape from the real world.
I loved this book, just like I knew I would, and I’m so glad I finally crossed it off my TBR. I can’t wait to continue this series!