Narrator: Michael Page
Series: Gentleman Bastard #1
Published by Bantam Spectra on June 26th 2007
Genres: Epic Fantasy
The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.
Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn't invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.
Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city's underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive...
Never has the title of a book been more apt than The Lies of Locke Lamora. It doesn’t seem like it tells you all that much. But really, it tells you everything you need to know about what you’re getting ready to read next. (And, if you haven’t read this already, you really SHOULD read it next!)
Lies & Schemes & Cons are Cool.
The focus of this book is about a boy who is basically a compulsive liar. He goes about making up elaborate schemes to steal people’s money. He’s an overly clever con artist and a phenomenal actor.
And I loved seeing how all of the bits and pieces fit together. Because they all fit together.
Most of his plans (all of them?) don’t go the way he expects. So much of the book is about him figuring how to adapt to all of these unfortunate intrusions to his plan. I LOVE it when plans go awry and the characters all have to think on their toes. That is THE. BEST.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is told in a back-and-forth format. It tells the progression of the main plot with brief (usually) “interludes” that are typically (but not always) from Locke’s past. At the very beginning, these confused the crap out of me. Especially since there are something like 12 or 13 different years (I’m guessing) between the 77th year of something and the 78th year of something. So even the time references confused me terribly.
Once I adapted, I LOVED these interludes for the majority of the book. They gave a break from the building conflict. They provided a seamless way to provide useful information. And Chains was easily one of my favorite characters, so I loved getting to see more of him.
Toward the end, they pissed me off like no other. We’d be all “Oh shit! Locke is totally about to get his ass kicked!” (sorry; this book has made me swear more). And then all of a sudden we’d be back with thirteen year-old Locke learning about cutlery or something. AND ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS GET BACK TO THE MAIN STORYLINE.
But they added SO MUCH TENSION that I honestly wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I was very effectively kept on the edge of my seat for hours.
The world-building is stupendous
(But dark. Very dark.)
I felt entrenched in the world, even as I wanted to climb out of it and run away screaming half the time. Seriously, there are some VERY uncomfortable ideas in this book. It was good, but you have been warned. There are references to mass slaughter, ridiculously disgusting ways of sending meaningful gangster-style messages to one’s enemies, gruesome parallelism in acts of revenge, and lots of torture.
Now for the good parts.
This world felt incredibly alive. I felt like I was walking down the streets at Locke’s side most of the time. And … There were times that I really was quite glad that I wasn’t.
None of the world-building was information-overload though. Because there were all of these interludes, it was easy to absorb information, since we were only getting the important world-building bits in bite-sized pieces. The choice of the interludes was very deliberate for this reason, even if some of the scenes seemed random at the time.
The friendships are fantabulous!
Between Locke and Jean especially, but really the whole gang of Gentleman Bastards. They are well and truly a family, and I felt like I was a part of it. I think what really made their friendship feel so real as quickly as it did was all of these little traditions they had with one another. They had chants. They had cheers. They had inside jokes. And they picked on one another endlessly.
Yet everyone looked out for one another. I am quite certain that Jean would walk to the ends of the earth for Locke. And Locke would do anything he had to in order to keep Jean from needing to do anything stupid on his behalf. There was a clear bond there that goes deeper than I could ever imagine.
Sassy & Snarky Dialogue
I think my favorite part about The Lies of Locke Lamora, however, are the quotes. The writing and the characterization are just phenomenal. Especially the dialog. There were so many one-liners that left me laughing out loud. So instead of writing much more of this review myself, I am going to pull some of my favorite quotes to share with you:
“Someday, Locke Lamora,” he said, “someday, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”
“Oh please,” said Locke. “It’ll never happen.”
“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
“… It’s perfect! Locke would appreciate it.”
“Bug,” Calo said, “Locke is our brother and our love for him knows no bounds. But the four most fatal words in the Therin language are ‘Locke would appreciate it.'”
“Rivaled only by ‘Locke taught me a new trick,'” added Galo.
“The only person who gets away with Locke Lamora games …”
“… is Locke …”
“… because we think the gods are saving him up for a really big death. Something with knives and hot irons …”
“… and fifty thousand cheering spectators.”
“There are only three people in life you can never fool–pawnbrokers, whores, and your mother. Since your mother’s dead, I’ve taken her place. Hence, I’m bullshit-proof.”
“What kind of knife is this?” Locke held a rounded buttering utensil up for Chains’ inspection. “It’s all wrong. You couldn’t kill anyone with this.”
“So that makes us robbers of robbers,” said Bug, “who pretend to be robbers working for a robber of other robbers.”
“You simply collapsed, sir. In layman’s terms, your body revoked its permission for you to continue heaping abuse upon it.”
“You’re one third bad intentions, one third pure avarice, and one eighth sawdust. What’s left, I’ll credit, must be brains.”
“You’ll pardon me,” he finally said, “if the suggestion that the minuscule black turnip you call a heart is suddenly overflowing with generosity toward me leaves me wanting to arm myself and put my back against a wall.”
“Jean,” Locke gasped out during a brief lull between spasms of retching, “next time I conceive a plan like this, consider putting a hatchet in my skull.”
“Hardly efficacious.” Jean swapped a full bucket for an empty one and gave Locke a friendly pat on the back. “Dulling my nice sharp blades on a skull as thick as yours…”
“You write?” “Why, all the time,” said Locke, “except of course when I’m wrong.”
Have you read The Lies of Locke Lamora? What did you think?!