The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series and his debut novel. It’s a dashing tale of wicked street urchins growing into brazen con-artists who exclusively steal from the rich (because that’s ok!) and don’t spend their money on anything because the stealing is too fun and they live in extravagantly furnished catacombs (as you do when you’re a thief).
The story takes place in the city of Camorr, in a beguiling Venezian-esque fantasy setting with a little magic wielded exclusively by ruthless evil mages, a lot of weird alchemy and some truly horrific marine life.
Locke and his gang of merry men dress swanky, con the breeches off of anyone who gets in their way, and throw merry parties with a plethora of male camaraderie, secret hand signals and team spirit traditions that would make Robin of Locksley sigh wistfully yet manfully. In fact, I have seldom wished I was a teenage boy as much as while I was reading this book.
But all good things must come to an end as the Sheriff of… Oh sorry, no some other guy with a vengeance scheme that Edmond Dante would shake his head in dismay at, comes to town and messes with the gangs happy thieving days. Now it’s up to Locke and his band to save themselves, the amiable but violent and murderous city mafioso and the city of Camorr itself, from death and worse.
Every single woman in this book is either an antagonist, away for the entirety of the book (no really!) or solely in a few scenes in order to get brutally murdered and spur Locke to action. If you wanted to set out and cover every single depressing story version of Gail Simone’s Fridged Woman you would be hard pressed to do more than Scott Lynch has. Like I said above, I would have adored this book when I was a boy. Except I never was, so the best I can say is that this story was not meant for me. Which is OK! Not every story has to be! Personally, however, I’d prefer to know these things before I buy a book or I feel like I’m the one being conned. Like hey, this is a great story about boys and their love for each other (platonic, don’t think I don’t know what you are thinking) and their mentors. Hell yeah. If I had a son I would totally give him this book. This is a topic that we see far too little of today. Somehow love has become solely the area of romance in fiction and that’s a damn shame which takes us right over to the next column of:
Oh, the prose (ahah) made me chuckle from the first page. It’s Errol Flynn in Robin Hood with a damn potty mouth. In fact, I’m tempted to skim through that book again to find some of the particular verbal gems again. Scott Lynch has certainly taught me a thing or twenty about cursing in a fantasy novel that makes ‘Andraste’s knickers’ sound downright polite in comparison.
The fat boy in the story has actual dignity and almost, almost has action impetus. In the end, of course, he was too late and Locke had to do all the heroics on his own because we all know that the fat guy is only in the story to make his friend shine. But before this, there is a long part of the book where this boy shines and really gets to sound like a real person for a change. Hurrah!
Boys and men are shown expressing complex emotions without it in any way detracting from the characters in the grip of those emotions. This isn’t a book that lauds toxic masculinity. It celebrates the strength of friendship and, for the most part, smarts over brawns.
I’m giving this book a tentative 3 merry tights out of 5. Make it 4 If you’re a dude!
You can read the entire prologue for free from this download from Scott Lynch’s website.
Buy it on Amazon:
You can find Scott Lynch on his author page at: ScottLynch.us
Special thanks to my friend, Ben Fox who made the reading suggestion. Teach those kiddies good, Ben!