by Scott Lynch
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Publication Date: June 27th, 2006
Format Read: Paperback
In this stunning debut, Scott Lynch delivers the thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his tightly knit band of tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood,” one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling….
An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly.
Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game–or die trying….
This is another book I would recommend for the ‘Game of Thrones’ fan in your life. While not having all of the same qualities, it’s a fast-paced political action fantasy, featuring a wonderfully absurd cast of characters and a series of ever-rising stakes.
Locke Lamora is…dum dum dum…the greatest thief in all of Camorr (and trust me, he has plenty of competition there, the city being nothing but a den of various sorts of iniquities). Known as the Thorn of Camorr, he and his cohorts rob from the rich and hide their ill-gotten earnings deep inside their batcave. They dodge between the rich nobles who live in towers above the city and Capa Barsavi, the iron-fisted ruler of the underworld. More importantly, they break an age-old agreement, that says the Capa will not rob the richest of the rich in return for a lack of governmental interference. After all, Locke and his ‘family’, the Gentlemen Bastards, have been trained from a young age by con artist Father Chains to do exactly that, break the agreement and make themselves rich in the process. There are occasional flashbacks to Locke’s childhood, from his orphan heritage to his time with the Gentlemen Bastards.
But, in the middle of yet another confidence game, things get decidedly more complicated. A man styling himself as the Grey King starts a war with Capa Barsavi, and intends Locke to be his accomplice. But the Grey King has much deeper plans afoot than anyone realises, and is merciless in reaching his goal. Only Locke has even a hope of stopping him, and it will take every ounce of cunning he has.
Not that Locke is a hero–far, far from it. Part of the reason why I enjoyed this book was because it’s almost nice to have a main character who is a total arse (one reason why Game of Thrones people will like this). Not that he’s evil…it’s just that there is very little in his small, shriveled heart that isn’t motivated by money or personal gain. As the title suggests, Lamora lies about absolutely everything. Jem Tanner, his friend, helps somewhat to redeem him, but not much. Although, he’s living in a city which is basically described as a giant slum. The rich live in five enormous crystal towers, built by a long-ago race, and do their best to ignore the goings-on below.
The city is, despite its filth, well built up by the author. It’s an island, half-built on water, and with many strange quirks. Through Lamora we observe a gladiator-esque shark battle, plague, Capa Barsavi’s hideout in an old ship dragged onto land, the extreme opulence of the towers of the rich, and a burrow of child thieves under an old graveyard. It really feels as if the reader can immerse themselves in the culture and wonder of this strange city. Which is one of the reasons why I love fantasy so much–it’s not merely the plot or characters, so much as the world-building.
Although the plot is extremely exciting. Locke Lamora thrives on tricks and confidence games, and won’t raise the stakes once if he can do it four times. He lives on the edge of a knife and dances on it. The action is so high-pitched to the point of almost becoming a caricature, broken up by Lamora’s reminiscence of Father Chains. But Lynch manages it skilfully, and the ending is everything you could ask (well, besides the dead characters…you can wish some of them were alive again).
Thank you Goodreads FirstReads for the review copy.
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FTC Advisory: This book was provided free by the author and/or publisher for a fair and honest review. No monetary or product incentives were given to influence our opinions.