05 April 2012
The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
The Burb: They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumour. And they are wrong on every count. Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich - they're the only ones worth stealing from but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it's a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa's power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming. A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora...
Now I know that the book has been out for quite some time. 2007 if I remember correctly. And I have read it quite a while ago. At the end of last year, Mr. Lynch sold some of his personal copies of his work on his blog and I was lucky enough to pick pne up. He was even nice enough to sell it to me for $1. The shipping was $17, so it worked out brilliantly since I only had $18 in my Paypal account. He's a good guy.
When it arrived, I had to read it again. You cannot not read a book when you have it. That's just wrong.
Boy am I glad that I think like that.
Locke and his band of Gentleman Bastards - that's their gang name, and a cool damn name at that - are very, very good thieves. Amazingly good. They are so good that even the Capa does not know about their thefts. They rob the nobility blind with schemes in stead of robberies, and the schemes are always so elaborate and brilliant that the poor nobles take quite a while to realize what the hell has happened to their money.
There is magic in the world, but the bondsmages are the only practitioners, they are jealous, arrogant and insanely expensive to hire. They say it's safer to kill yourself than kill a bondsmage, since the whole order hunts you down as well as all those you care for and all you've made when you do. I find this a nice change of magic use than the normal wizards ruling over people or not being respected. They are basically mercenaries who can burn the world.
The world itself seems to have been inhabited by an ancient race who has since disappeared out of memory. They left behind Elderglass structures which cannot be broken or melted. That is the extent of the influence of the ancient race in this book. No artefacts, no prophecy. Just awesome glowing buildings that make Camorr a little bit more interesting.
So, the magic is there but quite untouchable. No freaky prophecy to complete. No artefact to hunt. Just dishonest thieves trying to rob the nobility blind and try to survive. It sounds strange if you put it like that, but it's brilliant.
Most of the book is spent with Locke as the POV, but he's one interesting bastard, that's for sure. There is quite a few curse words present in the book, but it fits in well with the world they move in and the culture thats present. If dragons eating Knights and wizards boiling soldiers in their armour is acceptable, a few f-bombs should really not put anyone off.
The story has many a twist and turn. Not all of them done perfectly. One big scene in the book could have been done better. Some interesting characters crying out for some extra development or back story does not get it, but since this was his first novel, it will be forgiven. The rest of the book is awesome.
The gods are interesting and out of the way, the character interaction and development is slick, the world seems well thought out enough for 10 more books.
The whole thief thing has been done before this book and since, but this one is on the top of the pile for me.