Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Gentlemen Bastard #1)

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Gollancz on June 27, 2006

Source: Purchased

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The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.

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While it took me forever and a day to read Scott Lynch’s fantastic debut THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, every moment was a joy. In more than 500 pages, I was never once bored or distracted, which I attribute largely to Lynch’s superhuman ability to craft compelling and three dimensional characters.

The Gentlemen Bastards are so much fun to read about, particularly their competitive shenanigans. But underneath the scheming and the bluster these guys are thick as thieves (HA). Their absolute loyalty to one another was really refreshing and heartwarming; while all the other characters are given to double and triple crossing each other the Gentlemen Bastards are above that…at least with each other. And thank god for that, because all the plotting and backstabbing started to make my brain hurt at about the ¾ mark!

While all the Gentlemen Bastard’s are brothers the relationship between Locke and Jean is what really takes center stage in THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. My favourite flashbacks were the ones that gave us a sneak peek into the beginnings of their partnership. There’s just something magical about a scrawny smartass and a dry-witted giant partnering up. #BROTP

In fact, the inclusion of a non-linear narrative in each chapter was one of the most impressive aspects of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. For those who haven’t read it (am I the last person to read this book?!), the majority of the book takes place in the present but it is interspersed with interludes that recount formative moments for the Gentlemen Bastards. These flashbacks are perfect because they do so much: they develop characters, the world building, and the plot. Flashbacks also lend themselves well to some perfectly placed foreshadowing, which is always a plus.

Scott Lynch’s gift for humour is one of the most beloved characterstics of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, so much so that I was expecting a considerably more light-hearted tale than what I got. Because guys, this book is dark. The final scenes made me sob like a baby and I loved it. Always nice to have a little catharsis after such a shocking and slightly traumatic read, you know?

One example of the subtly dark tone of this one is the use of wraithstone throughout Camorr, a poison that doesn’t kill the body – it kills the soul. Well actually it kills all aspects of one’s personality and free will, but that’s the same thing as far as I’m concerned. The process of using wraithstone on an animal or a person is called ‘Gentling,’ a name that definitely implies a certain creep factor. While in Camorr it’s only used on beasts of burden, it was once doled out as a punishment for criminals. Horrifying.

As much as I adored the world building, I admit that I was expecting a bit more on the ‘fantasy’ side of things. Lynch beautifully develops Camorr and it’s unique culture(s) but there’s not much magic aside from a few tidbits about alchemy and of course the Karthain Bondsmagi. My only other real complaint – and it’s a minor one – probably comes as no surprise: THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA is rather light on female characters. I get that the series is about the Gentlemen Bastards, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more badass ladies. That said, I was pleased to see so many background female characters in positions of power. Hurry up and introduce me to Sabetha already! We haven’t even seen her yet and I’m crushing almost as hard as Locke.

I loved THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA and absolutely adored the characters. So glad I finally took everyone’s recommendations to heart and took the time to read this one. If you haven’t read this one yet then 1) you clearly do not suffer from FOMO as much as I do and 2) get on that ASAP.

What did you think of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA? Who is your favourite Gentleman Bastard? What is the craziest drug you’ve read about in fantasy? Let me know in the comments!

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  • This book is so amazing. I was totally hooked once they started doing all the double/triple crossing (which I guess pretty much happens through the whole book).

    • I know!! The scheming and plotting was truly mind-boggling. I can’t even imagine how much planning Scott Lynch must have done to pull off that many twists.

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    So glad you finally read this one!! I adore this series. And yes, the humor and darkness is so we’ll balanced in this.

    • Me too! I finally understand what I’ve been missing – and now I need to make haste and read the rest of the series. 🙂

  • YAAAAY! *dances on chair* I am so glad/relieved/happy you loved Locke and crew!
    YES to everything you said, basically. You’re making me want to re-read this but I’ll probably wait until the release date for Thorn of Emberlain gets nearer.

    Ohh, yes, the pacing – moving back and forth – is wonderful, isn’t it? It creates such tension. Lynch is a master storyteller.

    You only get to meet Sabetha in Book 3 but she’s well worth the wait! 🙂

    You’ll get better female-to-male character ratio in book 2 – I guess Lynch realised his party was a bit heavy on the Y chromosome and decided to even things out a bit.

    You know what I loved in his books – the cursing. I think his curses are the most innovative I’ve ever read. Insults, too. So juicy! 😀 I’d LOVE to translate this one.

    • YAAAY right back! I’m also glad I loved this one because I mean, how awkward would it be to dislike what’s probably one of the most talked-about high fantasy series right now?

      I’m kind of relieved that Thorn of Emberlain has been delayed (although obviously I wish only the best for Scott Lynch) because it gives me some time to catch up on the series before it releases. If book one is any indication, it’s going to take me a while to read them!

      Good to know about Sabetha being around in book three…builds the anticipation! #SabethaForPresident2016

      Can’t wait to meet these lady pirates I’ve been hearing so much about! I’ll be interested to see if any new members get added to the GB crew.

      YES, you’re so right! I liked how the names of the Thirteen were so often incorporated into those insults/curses, too. Reading SFF as a translator must give you such a unique perspective on things – I never would’ve thought about how difficult (and fun!) it would be to translate this. Especially if you only had to uses ‘proper’ Slovenian!

  • bookwraiths

    I really have to read this one. Everyone I know keeps telling me how great this one is, and I kept convincing myself the hype can’t be real. Oh, well, I’m just going to have to try it and see, I suppose.

    • I was in the exact same position as you! Generally the more hype a book gets the more I tend to ignore it because, well, I’m contrary I guess. But I think I was able to love this one so much because a lot of the hype for book one had died down and I could go into it without all that.

  • You are not the last person to read this, I am!! And I have a copy sitting on my shelf even. I’m so glad to see you loved it, because that seems to be the general consensus. And I may have heard that the other books in the series have more female characters in them, at least I think so. Awesome review!!

    • HA I was in the same boat as you. I own all three published books in the series so far, and they’ve just been sitting on my shelves gathering dust for ages. Really glad I got around to this one, I bet you’d love it. Thanks, Tammy! 🙂

  • Hi, sorry, pardon me while I remove myself to a private place to squeal with glee. I’m so happy you liked this book! The Gentlemen Bastard series is sooo great, now I can’t wait to hear what you’ll think of the next one. Adventure on the high seas! Badass lady pirate! Truly, I’m glad you got to get to this 🙂

    ~Mogsy

    • Hi, you are pardoned! 😀 Liked it, HA – I completely loved it. Although I confess I’m interested to see if any new members are added to the GB gang as the series goes on (for reasons that you doubtless know but I will not spoil in the comments!). Lady pirates, ahoy!!

  • Laura @ Half-Strung Harp

    I’m so glad you loved it! This is one of my favourite ongoing series, with book 2 being my absolute favourite instalment so far. I loved all the sea creature-related corporal punishment. 😀

    • Laura @ Half-Strung Harp

      Also, Jean Tannen is one of my favourite fictional creations ever. Wait until Lynn hears you’ve read this – she’s nuts about Jean. ;D

      • HA! Lynn, Kaja, and I just had a twitter ‘discussion’ about who has dibs on whom in these books. Originally I went with Jean but Lynn fought for her man. 😉

    • YES! Those sharks though…yikes. I’m very excited to see the lady pirates in book two! 😀

  • Guess who just bought this book thanks to your review?! It’s me, it’s me, and you’re a terrible enabler. I was never attracted to this book as it sounds like a sausage fest but I loveeee friendships and shaky alliances and WHO IS SABETHA I think I love her already too! I love this review as a lot of your excitement for the book came through and it made me all excited, too!!

    • AHHHH yay, Aentee! Honestly, my favourite comments are from people railing at me for enabling them to buy books. It’s my secret calling in life.

      Not gonna lie, there’s an awful lot of sausage fest-ery going on here but it totally works. Sabetha…oh, I think she’s my newest book girlfriend. I’ll fight you for her. 😉

  • Jan

    I’ve had this book for ever it seems, but I never seem to get it read. So many people have said how good it is and I really need to fit it in. Thanks for the reminder, Danya!

  • YES TO EVERYTHING!
    When I finished The Lies of Locke Lamora I felt like it was a prequel – especially seeing as we haven’t met Sabetha (WHICH KILLED ME TOO!) and there was so many things that were left open, the specifics of which I can’t remember now.
    Heh, FOMO. I’ve never heard of that.. Has that word ever been used in context offline? Because I can’t see that going over well…? 😛
    And okay, so I haven’t read it yet, but I have Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz sitting on my shelf and that drug looks ridiculously intense! Especially when you read the synopsis for the sequel, Flux which was definitely the reason I picked up Flex (“ALIYAH TSABO-DAWSON: The world’s most dangerous eight-year-old girl.” YES PLEASE!)