The Lies of Locke Lamora – by Scott Lynch
Hello there! It’s been too long – because I’m on holidays! I’m blogging from Stratford Upon Avon right now, which seemed appropriate. For the past month I’ve been gallivanting throughout Europe, and there’s a post full of bookish goodness on the way about that. But first and foremost, a review!
The Lies of Locke Lamora was recommended to me by a bookseller in London, after we’d been chatting about The Name of the Wind
and the Mistborn
trilogy. It’s a debut fantasy novel that’s been getting some interesting buzz, so I was excited to try it. Here’s what I thought:
Locke Lamora has an interesting problem: he thinks too big. While this may be an admirable trait, as a thief in Camorr it’s a liability. The Gentlemen Bastards, Locke’s gang, are successful because they make sure they aren’t noticed. Little thefts, little rewards. But that’s not enough for Locke – he’s in it for the challenge, and for the win. Before long, he’s accidentally infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and attracting notice from all the wrong people.
But Locke and his gang are about to have bigger problems. There’s a war brewing in Camorr’s underbelly, and if the Gentlemen Bastards are going to make it out alive, Locke’s legendary abilities will have to stand up to the greatest test they’ve ever faced.
In many ways, The Lies of Locke Lamora is like any good fantasy. It’s set in a world similar but not too similar to our own. There’s magic, or at least some mysterious forces at work in the background. We also have strong central characters, a mentor, an abstract love interest, and a tightknit brotherhood at the centre of the tale.
Locke Lamora could have been just another decent fantasy novel – but instead, it’s a cut above. In my opinion, it stands out for a couple of reasons. First: the writing. Lynch’s prose is descriptive without venturing into flowery, which makes this perfect for gals and guys alike. It’s sharp, tightly controlled and snort-inducingly witty. At more than one point I had to explain to my fellow travellers why I’d laughed out loud at my book!
Secondly, and this is a tricky thing to do well: Lynch isn’t afraid of loss, but also doesn’t revel in it. Dear reader; this is not the kind of fantasy from which all the important characters emerge unscathed. It’s also not the kind of fantasy where all the important characters are brutally killed off (*cough* George R R Martin). Instead, The Lies of Locke Lamora balances ever so carefully between these extremes, allowing you to become attached to characters with some confidence, but no guarantee that they’ll be okay. I’m not a fan of the “Well, he’s definitely not going to die, he’s too central!” But I’m also absolutely not a fan of the”Ha. You like him, huh? He’s a good guy, seems important, right? DEAD!” Treading the line between these approaches without fear of either is pretty rare these days, and takes some skill to pull off.
Wow. That was a rather long-winded way of saying that The Lies of Locke Lamora is FANTASTIC. I’m always on the lookout for new, exceptional fantasy authors. Brandon Sanderson was the last author I fell for this hard, and if the sequel to Locke Lamora is anywhere near as good as this first novel, the Scott Lynch may be my next favourite!
If you’re a fantasy reader who’s after new worlds, layered storytelling, clever dialogue, solid characters and anything Jordan/Rothfuss/Sanderson-esque, I commend to you Scott Lynch. (Oh and if at all possible, I recommend reading it on trains while travelling through France and Italy. Although that’s not strictly necessary.)
Have you found any good authors lately, that I may have missed while I’ve been away??