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The Lies of Locke Lamora


The Lies of Locke Lamora Cover

ISBN13: 9780553588941
ISBN10: 055358894x
Condition: Standard
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Author Q & A

Scott Lynch on The Lies of Locke Lamora

Beautiful whenever possible. Cruel whenever necessary.

I suppose that's the easiest way of describing the sort of fantasy I most enjoy, and the sort I very much wanted The Lies of Locke Lamora to be. Beautiful, because there are few things more boring than an alternate world without a spark of passion and inventiveness in its descriptions. And cruel, because it feels less self-indulgent that way, and much more like a real life for the characters on the page. Is it any wonder I appreciate George R.R. Martin's recent work so much? Heh.

There's beauty to be found in Camorr, a city of eighty-eight thousand souls on the shore of the Iron Sea. Camorr is an old place, originally built by a vanished race with frightening powers, and the city has yet to surrender all of its secrets to the human beings who claim it now. While Camorr has become a place of stone and wood and squalor, its founders left gardens, towers, artifacts, bridges, and labyrinths, all forged from ageless and unbreakable glass, for humanity to puzzle over. Alien glass knits the city together, forming its bones and sinews, allowing me to sprinkle in a variety of wonders far beyond the ability of Locke's people to build for themselves.

As for cruelty, well, you need look no further than the city's underworld—the thieves and hijackers, muggers and murderers, beggars and bosses who collectively refer to themselves as the Right People. Organized crime can be a colorful thing to write about, and I wanted that color, that pageantry, that surface atmosphere of camaraderie and slick charm. But I also wanted it to be little deeper than a film of oil on water... when you're part of a mob, your continued existence is only tolerated as long as you make money for the people above you in the hierarchy. You're only "part of the family" as long as you pay your tribute on time, every time. That's how things work under the reign of Vencarlo Barsavi, undisputed capa of Camorr, bloody-handed ruler of three thousand Right People. Barsavi is the quintessential mob boss, stately and charming at will yet capable of vicious murder for the most petty reasons. Barsavi doesn't chuckle amusedly at those who defy his rules; he feeds them to his pet sharks.

Naturally, our story revolves around a small group of people who live to defy Barsavi's rules.

Enter Locke Lamora and his gang of fellow miscreants, the Gentlemen Bastards. Locke and his friends are one of Barsavi's smaller, quieter, more trustworthy gangs. They pay their tribute on time, every time, supposedly financed by their night jobs as perfectly respectable sneak thieves. In reality, Locke and company are con artists... young geniuses of the art in a world where "con artistry" as we understand it is not yet generally known. In direct contravention of Capa Barsavi's wishes, they secretly fleece Camorr's wealthy aristocrats with convoluted scheme after convoluted scheme, be it posing as mediums capable of contacting dead loved ones, or sellers of titles to imaginary lands, or transporters of vast quantities of imaginary liquor. If discovered by the authorities, they would be sought by the Spider, the Duke of Camorr's mysterious spymaster. If discovered by their fellow criminals, they would be butchered without mercy on Capa Barsavi's orders.

It's a complicated life, with a razor-thin margin for error. The last thing it needs is an all-new, bigger, deadlier complication to mess things up... a murderous antagonist with unpleasant plans for Locke and his friends.

But what sort of author would I be if I didn't provide one?

Poor Locke. His life is beautiful whenever possible, cruel whenever necessary.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is, I suppose, not what you might call an easy book for everyone. It's got its fair share of blood and grue when things start to go wrong, and the story of a confidence game begins to mix with the story of a long-planned revenge. It's also got a degree of colorful language beyond what you might expect from most fantasy... Locke and his associates are gangsters, and on many occasions they speak as gangsters should. Inasmuch as it's a book about crime and violence, it's also a book about the consequences of both. But past the clatter of steel on steel, past the blood and betrayal, I hope you'll find a portrait of a city to remember, and a portrait of a tight-knit band of friends worth remembering, and a portrait of a flawed but brilliant criminal worth following as his life unfolds.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

Sally45, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Sally45)
Loved everything about this book! Highly recommended.
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Amy BookGirl, April 16, 2014 (view all comments by Amy BookGirl)
If I were to do a one word review for this book it would be: Badass.

Feel free to stop reading now, the rest of this review is basically fluff, but since I have a particular fondness for writing fluffy book reviews I will proceed.

Oh good, you decided to come along.

Locke Lamora is the leader of a gang of thieves dubbed the Gentleman Bastards. This group of orphaned young men were educated and trained to become masterful thieves by a man called Father Chains. Chains was the Eyeless Priest of Perelandro, the thirteenth of the twelve gods, Lord of the Overlooked. Father Chains was not eyeless.

The city of Camorr was built upon the Elderglass ruins of an alien race, interlaced with canals infested with wolf sharks and other niceties from the Iron Sea. Duke Nicovante reigned over the nobility and lawful citizens, and Capa Vencarlo Barsavi reigned over the lawless. A Secret Peace existed between these two men, the nobility were to be left untouched and Capa Barsavi would be left to manage his gangs--which he did--ruthlessly.

Locke: “So I don’t have to…”

Father Chains: “Obey the Secret Peace? Be a good little pezon? Only for pretend, Locke. Only to keep the wolves from the door. Unless your eyes and ears have been stitched shut with rawhide these past two days, by now you must have realized that I intend you and Calo and Galdo and Sabetha to be nothing less,” Chains confided through a feral grin, “than a fucking ballista bolt right through the heart of Vencarlo’s precious Secret Peace.”


And this is just the beginning. The first hundred pages ticked by, the next hundred flew, the next three hundred had me up late at night with burning eyes. It found me yelling, “Just a minute!!” as I stole time from Hillsboro to get back to the sultry heat of Camorr. Then in a flash, it was over. I set my book down and said something brilliant like, “That. Was. Aweeesome.”

One Complaint: Alchemy exists in Camorr--and boy does it ever. It is applied to everything. There are alchemical lights, alchemical fruits, alchemical liquor, alchemical drugs, alchemical formaldehyde, alchemical make-up, alchemical toilet paper that removes all poo leaving a scent of roses behind. Just kidding on the last one, but it felt like that.

The rest--golden.

With GRRM like brutality, we lose several favorite characters and favorite villains. I always admire authors who can expend so much effort building characters only to kill them off. It would be like spending months building an incredible sand sculpture, then sending some toddlers to stomp all over it. Then instead of lamenting the lost effort, the artist then goes ahead creates something even better.

The plot gets so tense at times I would audibly sigh with relief when it was over. “Are you O.K.?” I heard more than once. In idle moments, or sometimes not so idle moments, my mind would wander back into the story to figure out where it would go next, or to guess at the fate of a imperiled character.

Backstory is given in small digestible chunks that is relevant to current action in the story. At first the sojourns into backstory was annoying and a little confusing, but either it got better or I got used to it and I started appreciating the context it brought to the story.

Best of all there are more books! Second best of all--this book stands on its own. It did not end in the middle of a story, nor did it, in the last hundred pages, invent a dozen new stories then end… Unlike some other authors I know. (Oh yes, I'm looking at you GRRM and Pat Rothfuss.)

Just kidding, love you guys--beards rule!
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Leanne in MT, July 25, 2012 (view all comments by Leanne in MT)
The character of Locke is someone who grows on you until you are just on the edge of your seat trying to will him to convince his next mark, or beat his next opponent. The web of thieves and nobility and their respective blind spots are manipulated by Locke and the rest of the Gentleman Bastards with deft precision and without malice. This is the trait that makes Locke and his crew so easy to cheer for. That and the extent of their training, their pride in their work, and their camaraderie. When Locke's intricate plan to dupe the Don and Dona attracts the attention of another more sinister thief, things get even more complicated, and the final run of events is a real page-turning sprint. I had convinced myself that the author could not possibly finish the story with the pages remaining, but not only did Scott Lynch finish it, he finished it with style and with no loose ends or disappointing shortcuts. I would love to read about Locke and Jean's further adventures!
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Product Details

Lynch, Scott
Del Rey
Scott Lynch
Fantasy - Epic
Fantasy - General
Brigands and robbers
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
6.88x4.23x1.22 in. .76 lbs.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora Used Mass Market
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Product details 736 pages Spectra Books - English 9780553588941 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Scads of witty dialogue, a story packed full of twists and turns, and two of the cheekiest thieves you'll ever meet... What more could a reader ask for? The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book in the Gentleman Bastard series, and the two books that follow are equally entertaining. Scott Lynch weaves an absorbing tale that will whisk you right out of this world and keep you thoroughly entertained.

"Review" by , "Locke's resilience and wit give the book the tragicomic air of a traditional picaresque, rubbery ethics and all."
"Review" by , "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser would have felt right at home with the Gentleman Bastards. They're not out to save the world, just their own skins...oh, and to relieve some nobles of their gold, jewels, and silks along the way. This is a fresh, original, and engrossing tale by a bright new voice in the fantasy genre. Locke Lamora makes for an engaging rogue, and Camorr a fascinating and gorgeously realized setting, a city to rival Lankhmar, Amber, and Viriconium. I look forward to returning there for many more visits."
"Review" by , "Scott Lynch is a con man, a conjuror, a wickedly entertaining juggler of words with knives up his sleeves and hatchets down his back. By the time you realize he's dangerous, you're already bleeding. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a ticket inside the astonishing city-state Camorr, and a free pass into the company of the entirely extraordinary Gentleman Bastards, and a match for any fantasy adventure I've ever read. The best news is: it's Book One. That means there'll be more."
"Review" by , "Among the year's most impressive debuts...Lynch immediately establishes himself as a gifted and fearless storyteller, unafraid of comparisons to Silverberg and Jordan, not to mention David Liss and even Dickens. Fans of lavishly appointed fantasy will be in seventh heaven here, but it will be nearly as popular with readers of literary crime fiction."
"Review" by , “Remarkable....Scott Lynch’s first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, exports the suspense and wit of a cleverly constructed crime caper into an exotic realm of fantasy, and the result is engagingly entertaining.”
"Synopsis" by , An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game — or die trying.
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