The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, Book 1)
Fantasy Book Review
I’m very surprised I haven’t found Lynch’s work until now. It’s odd to have such a strong series be completed without any of the Amazonian algorithms pushing a book of this quality my way.
One of the first things you’ll discover with this book is that you have sailed right off the map of young adult fiction. Maybe it’s the line, “I told you they were shit-flinging little monkeys when we made the deal…” which happens in paragraph four that instantly gave me the sense that this was going to be a book written for adults by and adult. Refreshing.
That being said, I have to say that I struggled a little getting into the novel. There was a little too much Dickensian aspiration for describing a scene. In several sections you simply can’t wait for him to just get to the fucking point. When I discovered this was Lynch’s first novel, it made a little more sense. Describing the scene at this level of detail is akin to literary masturbation, it’s important and gratifying to the author but not something you need to share with your friends. Lynch is more than talented enough with his prose that he will get past this.
Other than that, the writing and the character building is spot on. He runs a tidy past and present three card monte on you that introduces you to each character through flashback side stories. This is nice because there is always something new and surprising to learn about each of these new and surprising characters.
This is the story of Locke Lamora, an incredibly successful thief who seems to be lacking direction. We are not talking about a moral compass here, he has no illusions that he is the good guy, but he and his band of Gentleman Bastards have amassed a fortune that they don’t really know what to do with. They work within an organized crime syndicate, kind of like the Sopranos move to Westeros. Locke is the lieutenant of the smallest crime family that reports to the Capa. He and his team have done a masterful job of hiding their wealth, not only from other thieves but also from the Capa. They always pay their weekly tithe on time and on budget but they never draw attention to themselves.
What nobody knows is that Locke is also the Thorn of Camorr. The Thorn is talked about in hushed tones and only in myth and rumor. He has become this mystical figure that runs the biggest, most audacious scams in the city. He preys only on the nobles of Camorr so fancies himself a bit of a Robin Hood character without the whole inconvenience of giving back to the poor. His schemes are clever and seem to be a rich source of entertainment to the Gentleman Bastards.
His two concerns are: one, getting found out by the Capa, which would mean a quick and toothy death at the fins of some particularly graphic sharks which seem to be a large part of the culture of Camorr. And two, at the hands of the Spider, the mysterious spy master that pulls all the strings in the duchy. That is until a new player comes on the scene, the Gray King.
The Gray King is over the top nefarious. He employs an even nastier free lance sorcerer with a hybrid scorpion hawk for a familiar. The Gray King doesn’t fuck around. Without giving away any important plot points, he puts Locke in a world of hurt while at the same time turning the crime syndicate and the entire city of Camorr upside down. Locke has to figure out how to counter this shady figure and do his best to keep him and his gang breathing while doing so.
Once you get into this book, it is almost impossible to put down. It has an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion that reminds me a bit of the Ocean’s Eleven style hi-jinks. Don’t miss this one, it is well worth your time. I have already started the second book.