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The Lies of Locke Lamora

Scott Lynch

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Gollancz

Published : 2006

Copyright : Scott Lynch 2006

ISBN-10 : HB 0-575-07694-1
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-575-07694-5

Publisher's Write-Up

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's 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're 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...

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (211006) Rating (9/10)

Review by Nadine
Rating 9/10
I usually find that choosing a book on the strength of its intriguing title and attractive cover design is a recipe for disaster. It is my very great pleasure to report an exception.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is, quite rightly, classed as fantasy (set as it is in a mythical city, on a mythical world with three moons and a history of habitation by a mysterious alien race). However, one shouldn't expect the usual fare of elves and wizards, unicorns and fairies. This is more Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels than Lord of the Rings. There is a wizard of sorts, but Albus Dumbledore he is not.

We are introduced to Locke when he is a little boy, recently orphaned and taken under the wing of the Thiefmaker of Camorr - a Fagin-like character who makes a living out of rounding up lost children and teaching them to become thieves. But Locke is already a talented pickpocket when he arrives. Too talented, in fact, and he begins to attract the type of trouble that the Thiefmaker could do without.

Locke is sold to Father Chains - an old, blind priest of the Lord of the Overlooked... among other things. Now his education in the deviant arts really begins, and he grows up to become an audacious and skilful confidence trickster and master of disguise.

In the strictest sense, Locke and his little band of fellow miscreants are bad guys. Their cunning and ambition know no bounds, and nobody with any money is safe from their relentless and creative predation - not even the nobility (who are supposed to be immune due to a long-standing unofficial arrangement with the city's crime lord). However, you can't help rooting for them because they're just so likeable, and their exploits are so much more entertaining than your average, run-of-the mill robberies. Besides, Locke sees stealing as a perfectly legitimate profession... and he's very good at his job. He works harder than many men with honest trades, so it seems only right that he should be successful.

Just when Locke and his comrades are about to pull off the most impressive scam of their careers, events take an unfortunate turn. An unseen threat to the City's criminal organisation has decided to emerge from the shadows... and Locke's assistance is required. His secure, relatively anonymous position becomes rather precarious... and suddenly a great many people seem keen to bring about his death in as inventive and uncomfortable a manner as possible.

I knew I was going to like this book from the very first page. The writing style is so fluid and pleasant to read, with a creative use of language that could - and did - keep me amused for hours. It was refreshingly original while avoiding the pretentious, arty affectations that irritate me so much in authors who try too hard. The dialogue is witty and colourful while still sounding real, and even in the story's darkest moments there is a dry and gritty sort of humour.

The characters are some of the most well defined and memorable I have ever encountered, presented with a warmth that is only found when an author genuinely likes the people he's writing about. Father Chains was a particular favourite of mine, along with Jean Tannen - the muscle of the gang, complementing Locke's brains. I think Locke himself is destined to become something of an icon - sharp and devious enough to think his way around any obstacle, but with an honourable streak the width of a barge and charm by the truckload.

Even if the plot had been weak, I still would have enjoyed the read just for the characters and the pleasing prose. But the plot is as smart as the protagonist - thoroughly absorbing and full of clever little twists and exciting action. It's complex enough to be intriguing, without being totally incomprehensible. Events can be pretty brutal at times - it's certainly not for the squeamish - but this only enhances the reader's genuine loathing for the villains.

I feel duty-bound to point out that it's not for children... the language can be colourful in the extreme and the violence is toe-curling. But grown-ups with strong stomachs and a liking for swashbuckling tales of greed, revenge, friendship and honour will lap it up. I've had a grin on my face ever since I finished it.

A spot of internet snooping on my part has revealed that this is the first in a series of seven Locke Lamora books. The next will be called Red Seas Under Red Skies (no publication date yet), and will see Locke's adventures continue with an attempt to hoodwink some high-stakes gamblers... and an unfortunate run-in with a gang of pirates.

I'll see you at Waterstones...
Nadine (21st October 2006)

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