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Gentleman Bastard Read Along – Chapters 1-4

Week 1 – Chapters 1 – 4

Welcome to the first week of our incredibly in-depth Read Along of The Lies of Locke Lamora. I asked you guys over Twitter how deep you wanted this Read Along to be and the answer I got was ‘Damned Extensive’. So, with this in mind I’m going to go over everything that I think could possibly be important to the story later on down the road. If I miss something – PLEASE let me know in the comments. Oh, and, if it is a little too detailed for you, I’ve put the more important bits in italics and the questions for the discussion are right at the end of the post – so just skip down there. Right then, lets begin shall we!

Prelude

We begin The Lies of Locke Lamora in the 77th year of Sendovani. It appears that Scott’s date system is pretty similar to our our in that it has days, weeks, months and years – where it differs is that each of the 12th Gods has a year, so rather than the year before being the 76th year, it was actually the 77th year of Morgante.

A man named the Thiefmaker is trying to sell an orphan, Locke Lamora, to an eyeless priest – promising him that he is as special as the other orphans he has previously sold him. This boy is of Camorri – a Therin city-state with a population of 80,000 – but a mongrel with mixed Therin and Vadran blood.

Turns out that for orphans of Camorri there are a few career paths for you: many of which end with dead ends. The first is a life of inslavement – should you be unfortunate enough to be picked up by one of the Slavers who’d take you off to Tal Verarr or Jeremite Islands. The second is death by either stupidity or suicide and the third is that you can enter into a life of crime – either on your own – which probably won’t end well – or with the thieftaker who can mould you until you are ready to enter a gang.

However, it is clear that this isn’t what is happening here, because the Thiefmaker informs Chains that if he doesn’t buy Locke from him, he’s going to slit is throat and throw him in the bay.

So, we are now taken back into the past to find out what on Earth Locke could have done. For those keeping track, we are 2 years in the past – The 77th year of Gandolo, Father of Opportunities – and we are told that Locke wasn’t actually one of the Thiefmaker’s chosen 30 orphans from Catchfire – he snuck into group as they were being led away from the village.

We hear a little of the origins of the Thiefmaker. He was a lowly pickpocket who ended up getting nine of his fingers broken – so we presume he wasn’t overly good at it?. However, he made his way to the top by setting himself up as a kind of ‘leader’ – teaching orphans how to steal.

Locke is taken to a place called Shade’s Hill – it is an ant malt for young thieves learning their craft. Everyone is here because they are paid for, they can leave when they like because they are under his protection, but they will need to do chores, for those that eat work and those that work eat.

When questioning Locke about his past – for it is obvious Locke has stole before – the Thiefmaker notices that Locke lacks ‘reticence’. Certainly, it seems the area of Locke’s brain that should give him fear/hesitation and press upon him a conscience isn’t firing and this intrigues the Thiefmaker. However, this intrigue quickly turns to panic when Locke reveals two bags of coins that he stole from the ‘Watch’.

By doing this Locke has broken the secret peace. The Thiefmaker is forced to pay the guards back their money plus interest for their word they won’t tell Capa Barsavi. It is obvious that this secret peace is vital to the Thieftaker’s operations being allowed to continue at Shade’s Hill without bother from the authorities. When he gets back from paying off the guards the Thieftaker notes that he doesn’t believe a 5 year old could teach himself the kind of subtlety required to steal from the guard.

This raises an important question: What are Locke’s true origins? Is he really just another Catchfire orphan or is there more to him? You know, when a man called the ‘Thiefmaker’ thinks you steal too much… maybe you really do.

We move into the means that the Thiefmaker trains Locke and his fellow orphan thieves: they are split into two groups, Windows and Streets. The Windows are your typical cat burglar types, the Streets are more like Cutpurses. Locke is placed into The Streets group and given the following rules to avoid the noose: make sure your target is distracted, minimise all contact and once the deed is done clear the vicinity.

Locke begins as a teaser – which means he distracted the target, but is quickly promoted to the clutcher – which means he is the one who makes the actual theft. The thing is, Locke was good at being a teaser. Too good in fact – his distractions were so elaborate, so well thought out that the other orphans would gather to watch him… this ruins productivity and it is something the Thiefmaker isn’t too happy about.

We move forward a year – we’re in the 77th year of Morgante now – City Father, Lord of Noose and Trowel.. We begin the scene with Locke Lamora in full flight – he runs into a bar in make-up that gives him the appearance of one infected with Black Whisper. Instantly everyone is the bar begins to scatter – so far everything is going to plan and the orphans take everything that the punters left behind, oh and the food from the cellar too.

As panic grows though, the ‘Watch’ are called and the bar is burnt to the floor. Locke doesn’t see this as such a bad thing – he done his job, right? However, when he returns to Shade’s Hill the Thiefmaker is furious – Locke has broken the rules again… This bar was protected by the Capa, ruler of the underworld, and should he find out that Locke and the Thiefmaker were involved there would be hell to pay. However, it is revealed to us that it isn’t this that has brought the Thiefmaker to the point that he must either kill or sell Locke – it is something even worse.

Note: In this chapter we first come across ‘Gaze’. It seems to be a hallucinogenic that comes in the form of eyedrops. Its effects, so much as we can see, are to give the user pleasurable visions.

At this point we go back in time a little to the Thiefmaker walking Locke to meet Chains. Here we get our first true glimpse of Elderglass as Scott Lynch describes to us the five towers. I recommend that you bookmark page 19 for anytime you need a refresher of the architecture of Camorr and a reminded of the scale of the Elderglass buildings. I’ll do my best to summarise what we know about the novel’s main setting though:

Camorr is one of the main Therin city-states. In is located to the South of Therin and has a population of 88,000. Not much is known about its past, but there was a race that came before the Camorri that built a huge network of bridges, towers and mazes from a material known as Elderglass. This glass is unbreakable and therefore the city must be built around it – however, it is worth noting that there are broken structures meaning that something in the past must have been able to destroy it, but there is no sign of that either. The most striking piece of Elderglass are the 5 towers – the smallest of which is 80 feet wide and 400 feet tall. To give you an idea of just how big these towers must be: Piza is 183feet and the Statue of Liberty, base and all, is 305feet.

So, the novels setting is far from your typical medieval one. In an interview Scott explains: “Originally the novel was supposed to be set in what you might call more of the analogue/medieval society, a typical high fantasy setting. That bored me so quickly I realised that I had to do something else so I moved the timetable of Locke’s world to the Elizabethan/Renaissance period; which is a personally more interesting period than the medieval era for me to set my book in.” Therefore, you will find many canals, that are negated by the use of barges, and cause much of Camorr’s land to be like little islands.

Going back in time a little, we are now at the moment that the Thiefmaker arrives at the Eyeless Priest’s temple. Chains puts on a dramatic display, begging for money as a priest of Perelandro – Lord of the Overlooked – and Locke has obvious admiration for him. The two twins who sit on the steps beside him,Calo and Galdo Sanza, are described as about a year older than Locke with olive skin and black hair, which is apparently the true mark of Camorri.

Luckily for us – for otherwise it would be a rather short novel – Chains buys Locke’s life (I’ll remind you of how in a second). As they make their way into the temple we are told it is lit by an Alchemical Globe – we don’t get much explanation as to its workings yet. Chains reveals that he is really a priest of the 13th God – The Thiefwatcher, The Crooked Warden, The Benefactor, Father of Necessary Pretexts. His having bought the Shark Tooth – that was issued by the Capa – means that Father Chains can have Locke killed at any time he likes – no questions asked. Chains essentially owns his life.

Locke seems genuinely shocked – he can’t comprehend what he has done wrong. Chains tells Locke that he is going to change him – that stealing shouldn’t be done with your hands, but rather with your brain and mouth. Deception and misdirection are the true tools of a thief – they allow you to work even when you are in your 50s – like chains. First though, Chains wants to know the truth about how Locke ended up getting two of his fellow orphans killed.

Chapter 1

A good confidence game takes three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse and will feature three seconds where the victims trust is won or lost forever. This scam could land the boys 20,000 crowns and these three seconds near. Don Lorenzo Salvara is about to run into Locke Lamora, being strangled by one twin, and Jean Tannan, currently getting kicked by the other twin. There is also mention of a boy named bug acting as lookout. Jean is described as 16 stone and top heavy. Bug is noted as being a lanky and mop-headed 12 year old. Locke is medium height and build, cropped short hair and less olive than Jean or Bug – looked like a proper Therin. Might pass for a very tanned Vadran. Jean and Locke are told to be at least twice the age of Bug at this point – so about 24/25.

The boys are in the main commercial area, there is a waterway, the Via Camorrazza, leading to the shifting market. Besides them is a temple where the Don is making an offering – as he does every Penance Day (once a week) – a promise to his dead mother. He visits from Coin-Kisser’s Row, the place where the Duke and all the Grand Families make their money. The plan is that the Don’s morals won’t let him just walk by a couple of foreigners taking a beating.

However, Bug spots the watch approaching before the Don exits the temple. So, he dives off the roof and pretends to be injured. The watch, who see, run to help him, but Bug gets up (having landed safely on rubbish) and hits a member of the watch in the face with a cosh like device filled with chillies that burns the Watchman’s eyes. Whistles are blown, alarms are sounded, but they are after Bug, not Locke and Co – so Bug has done his job leading them away.

The Don exits the temple to the scene of Locke being strangled and Jean being kicked to death as planned. The Don and his man Conte approach and tell the twins – who wear masks – that they’d better leave the men alone or be ready to fight them. As planned, the twins back off and escape by climbing over an alleyway wall.

Locke passes himself as a foreigner, Lukas Fehrwight, from the house of bel Auster, of the canton of Emberlain and the Kingdom of the Seven Marrows. He is dressed elaborately and even talks in the Vadran language. It is apparent that Locke is now the conman that Chains told him he would be – he is cautious, able to trick with his words and obvious careful planning – although, it must be said the fight scene was somewhat elaborate.

We are told that Don Salvara is of the Nacozza Vineyards and his wife, Dona Sofia, is a botanical alchemist. The Don feels shamed that Lukas was attacked because the Temple district is usually safe. Lukas tells him it must have been a tip of for their house is known for transporting very expensive goods.

When the Don asks if he can help Lukas in anyway, he asks the Don if he can help set up a meeting with Don Jacobo. As Lukas well knowns, Don Jacobo is Don Salvara’s enemy. They have fought to blood on a number of occasions – Lukas is obviously trying to make Salvara think he is going to offer him some kind of deal. Galdo turns up disguised as Evante Eccari a Solicitor from Razona district who has known Lukas for a long time and helped with his dealings. Eventually, Don Salvara bites and tells Lukas that he might be interested in hearing about his deal.

From the distance a dark figure watches Locke and the Bastard’s plans…

Notes: Who is this Dark Figure?

We move forward in time a little and everyone is worried about Bug until he ends up being delivered in a wine barrel. Bug had to pay a decent amount of money to be brought back in the barrel, however informs Jean and co that he stole some of the money back whilst being stored in the building of the man who rolled him back. Jean isn’t too happy about that, but Bug says “Locke would appreciate it” – the theft. Calo informs Bug that those are the 4 most deadly words in the Therin language.

Even now it seems that there is a feeling that the only person who gets away with Locke Lamora games is Locke. The twins think that the Gods are looking out for him – for now – because they’re saving him for a really big death.

Chapter 1 – Interlude

Chains is asking Locke about the deaths he caused. Locke explains that Veslin and Gregor were their names. Veslin came first, he was older and took advantage of the younger ones by staying at home and taking a percentage of their retrievals for himself. As time progressed he began taking more and even keeping some for himself to spend of the girls who sit in the windows.

Locke managed to steal a white iron coin – a full crown – from a Vadran. These coins are about what a Watchman will make in a whole month of working plus overtime. Locke hid it in Veslin’s room and told his master that he’d seen Veslin accepting money from the yellow coats. The thiefmaker waits for Veslin and Gregor to return – he then slits Veslin’s throat and stabs Gregor. Locke claims he never expected it to go this far, but he doesn’t seem overly aggrieved that it did. Chains then asks if Locke would like him to point out where he fucked everything up and why most of his little friends will be dead by morning.

Currency: 1 crown = 40 silver solons = 240 coppers

It is hard to work out how much a crown is worth in our money, but I’m going to guess around £1000 ($1560). I’ll look at this more in the next chapter.

Chapter 2

Back in the present, Lukas and the Don are on pleasure barge – there are rope dancers on a boat to their left. Dona Sofia flirts a bit with Locke, but Locke knows this was prearranged by the Don to fluster him a little. She was a true Alchemical Botanist, this barge was her handywork and design – she would play a part in the Don’s decision on whether to trust Lukas. Calculating where as the Don was impulsive.

Every 4th Idlers day there is no work done. Instead there is a kind of festival. Because there is no elderglass ampitheatre there are observation barges and pleasure barges instead. The Duke pays for it all because it pulls the fangs of unrest from the city before they can fester. Minor fights can be had without any repercussions and people can move on. Also, criminals are invited to fight in bouts where the odds are stacked against them in order to reduce sentences. Those who have committed terrible crimes are fed to Devilfish.

Lukas uses a ton of insider information and ‘facts’ to convince the Don that a civil war is soon to break out in Lukas’s home, Emberlain of the Seven Marrows. The basic premise is that the Graf von Emberlain (the king essentially) and the Black Table (the elite group of merchants, which Lukas’s house is a part of) are moving in opposite directions. The Black Table are so powerful that they pretty much rule already and now that the Graf has left with his army – they feel ready to take it from him.

We find out the the House of Bel Auster are producers of the finest, most expensive brandy available. Locke explains that it is expected that this civil war will result in the destruction of the Vineyards and loss of the land that can produce the expensive brandy for 10, 20 or even 30 years. Lukas and co want to abandon ship before shit hits the fan. Turns out that this coming civil war is actually based on good speculation, but many of the claims Lukas makes – such as the House of bel Auster’s frozen accounts, locked down boats, etc – are all made up.

As a gesture of good will, Lukas provides Don with a bottle of Brandvin Austershalin 502, which is apparently very rare. Locke invested about 800 crowns into it (that’s close to (£800,000 / $1,238,240 by my estimates). My theory is somewhat backed up by the Don’s reaction to the bottle – we must remember he is a VERY wealthy man and even he is shocked to see a bottle worth so much.

The Don is even more shocked when Lukas provides a bottle of unaged 559 Brandy. This stuff has been tasted by almost no one. It is supposed to be aged for 7 years and the location it is kept in for that time is top secret. It is seen as a true honour for the Don to taste it.

We now get into the meat of the Con: Lukas says that he was 6000 x 32 gallon casks of brandy and special projects in storage. Lukas explains that over time they have been switched with beer casks by the Blending Masters and are now just waiting to be smuggled out of the country.

Don and Lukas agree that the entire scheme will cost a total of 25,000 crowns (£25,000,000 / $38,730,000) – Don notes that this is more than half his worth. Lukas explains that currently even the youngest fetches 30 full crowns (£30,000 / $46,476) – imagine how much the 6000 casks would be worth with a sudden shortage. Lukas claims that the Don would be allowed half the stock if he helps them transport it to Camorr, store it and market it. He claims the Don would make ten times his investment back in just a year (£250,000,000 / $380,730,000) – imagine what he’d make as it aged.

In the distance we see Wolf sharks jumping from the water. Only women are allowed to fight them as contrarequialla – it’s a real spectacle. Don and wife tell Lukas that the Berangias sisters are the best but that they haven’t been to the Revel for a few months now. As ‘Locke’, Lukas knows where they’ve been (we’ll find out later).

Don agrees to the deal, but wants 55/45 split and a 5% share in company once things are through.

Chapter 2 – Interlude

Back in the past, Chains explains Locke’s mistakes:

1) Accepting money from a yellow jacket is, as a thief, death. They take money, not give – especially in the quantities that Locke made out. The only reason for such a vast quantity of money to change hands would be for Thiefmaster’s Death or a complete wiping out of all the orphans of Shade’s hill.

2) The next mistake was showing the other orphans that the Thiefmaker could be played. Chains thinks it is now only a matter of time before the guild turn on him. Chains calls himself a Garrista (leader of a gang), which is interesting, because Locke calls himself that a few pages back – so at this point we know that Chains is either dead or missing.

Chains tells Locke that he must make a death offering of 1000 crowns a head to the orphans that Locke has gotten killed through making them a part of his scheme – for the Thiefmaker will surely kill them to stop word spreading that he was played. Chains explains that a death offering is something thieves do for those that pass on – they throw something of value – although stolen after the death – into the river to help the passed in what comes next. Locke makes a blood promise to pay the money – once he has he can remove the sharks tooth from his neck. When he accepts these terms, Chains informs him that he is now a Gentleman Bastard.

Locke is led down below the temple and finds that the Gentleman Bastard’s real living space is easily fit for a Duke. Chains tells Locke to lay the table in the way nobles do. When he asks why Locke is told that one day he will eat with Dukes, Barons and Counts and it will be important they don’t know they are eating with a thief – here we see how Chains trains the Bastards.

Once again there is mention of a girl named Sabetha who is away on ‘Educational Business’ – the twins want her back but a bit less crazy and a lot more humble. We see here how serious the priests and Bastards take their ‘benefactor’ God – they offer him a glass of mirror wine from Tal Verrar and a prayer for opportunities to steal.

Chains explains that the Gentleman Bastards are actors. He tells Locke that he will be expected to learn if he wants to eat – he’ll need to learn everything about various culture’s mannerisms in order to pull off his schemes. Chains then informs Locke that tomorrow he will meet the Capa.

Chapter 3

Back in the present two masked men are waiting for The Don. They inform him that Lukas is in fact The Thorn of Camorr and that Lukas is a fraud.

The Gentleman Bastards are celebrating an ‘easy’ second touch – Locke confirms that Chains is dead by repeating the absent friends gesture. Locke then moves on to toast Sabetha, who is absent but must have returned at some-point for the mood suddenly changes as it is revealed that Locke and Sabetha were in love, but have since broken up. Locke seems begrudged, but Jean and the twins make him say a true toast to her. The twins do sympathise with Locke though and say that ‘she was her…’ They all agree Locke should go get laid and move on. Scott Lynch is purposely secretive about Sabetha who is currently in Parlay – we can bet she’ll play a part in future books. As the conversation dies down, Locke quietly says ‘we love them still’ quietly.

As the Don talks to the men in black – the Duke’s Midnighters – we find out that he is just 24 – about the same age as the bastards (minus Bug). The inform the Don that the Duke has become wise to the Thorn and has followed threads of evidence that have brought them here. We now here of the Bastard’s past schemes, they’ve conned Dona Rosalina de Marre of 10,000, Don and Dona Feluccia of 20,000 and Don Javarriz of 15,000 – a total of 45,000 crowns (£45,000,000 / $70,000,000). Apparently none of them talk about their losses for fear of losing business and trust and respect.

The Don reveals that he has already given Lukas 5,000 Crowns (£5,000,000 / $7,750,000), but the midnighters won’t allow the Don to cancel the note before collection. They want Locke, his accomplices and his sources. His Grace Duke Nicovante is quite adamant that the Don’s complete cooperation is needed. The midnighters tell Don to give him everything he asks for.

Back with the Gentleman Bastards we see the hugeeeee costume area that allows the Gentleman Bastards to dress up as almost anyone. Locke is getting dressed up as a Midnighter – at one point they describe a wallet’s sigil made of gold, crystal and frosted glass that cost more than the 502 bottle of Brandy (so probably around (£1,000,000 / $1,550,000). The Spider sigil is apparently the symbol used by the man who leads the Midnighters. He is, according to Bug, bullshit – but Locke disagrees and tells him that he is real. Locke knows he exists, because when someone upsets Capa or the Duke they are made an example of. There are times though when people just disappear and the Capa has said nothing about it – meaning he must be scared. There is also mention of ‘The Grey King’, a lone madman who is killing thieves, but Locke doesn’t feel they are the same person (we’ll hear more about The Grey King as we progress).

The Don seems reluctant to play along with the Duke’s demands to give Lukas everything he wants, but the midnighter (who we now know is Locke) tells him to weigh up the favour gained for complying with the Duke against the inevitable displeasure should he be reluctant to help and let the Thorn escape.

We are sent back in time a bit and see Locke and Jean dressed as Midnighters walking into the Alcegrante district – where money is laid to rest by the wealthy. It is 4 connected islands, each a sort of tiered hill sloping up to the base of the plateau that held the five towers. It’s worth noting here that the closer you get to the towers, the wealthier you are. From here, Merchants, Moneybrokers and Shipbrokers look down on the rest of the city and look up covetously at the towers where the five families rule. This is where the Don lives and we are treated to a scene where they break in to his house. They take out Conte by using a drug that cost them about 30 crowns (seems a bit steep?).

Note: As Locke and co leave – the black figure following them is there again – this time it flies away. What is it?

Chapter 3 – Interlude

Young Locke is suffering with a hangover from the Mirror Wine on the day he is set to meet the Capa. Chains explains that Austershalin Brandy doesn’t give this kind of hangover – one of the reasons it is so sought after. Chains and Locke will travel with a gentled goat that has had its personality burnt away through Wraithstone…

Note: This is interesting. Does anyone else think that perhaps this has some link to why Locke is unable to feel certain emotions? Certainly, he seems to have trouble with remorse, a lack of fear, a lack of lust maybe? Locke also feels comfortable with the Goat whilst noting that many feel uncomfortable around such creatures. Finally, Locke’s eyes get a couple of mentions in this book and the goats do too. Hmmm….

Anyway, turns out the Capa is a rather nice guy. He trusts Chains and so does not subject him to the same kinds of spies within his gang, random audits and such that he does to the other 100 or so gangs throughout Chalorr. Chains brings him some money as a show of respect and to keep this arrangement going.

We get some history that 5 years ago there were 30 Capas each with 4 to 5 gangs beneath them. The all warred until the new Capa – the one Locke is meeting now – walked in and began to merge them. Rather than killing them once he defeated a Capa, he looked after them, offering them money and a chance to choose their Garristas. 3 years ago there were 10 Capas and 1 year ago there was 1.

We hear that this was all achieved through calculation. The Capa was a scholar in a past life and it was through brilliance he got to where he was today. He made a deal with the Duke to lay off the nobility if the guards turn a blind eye to much of his work – this is the secret peace.

Locke is initiated as the Capa’s Pezon with a strange ritual where Locke drinks both a shark’s tooth and dark sugar rum. The tooth moves by itself in Locke’s mouth and tastes his blood apparently binding him to Capa’s service (Chains informs Locke after the meeting that this is just a bullshit ritual – that the shark tooth is slightly enchanted).

Note: This is the first decent mention of magic in the book. There will be more, of course, but it does seem that the magic in this World is minimal and concealed to the underworld.

In this scene we also meet the Capa’s feisty daughter, Madam Nazca. The Capa jokes that she could easily be the next Capa – although she does have two older brothers. At the time she comes into the novel she is wearing shoes with deadly looking spikes on the toes (apparenly she has been kicking the Capa’s guards in the shins with them). Perhaps due to the rum going to his head, Locke tells her that if she is going to be the next Capa, he swears his allegiance to her too. The Capa laughs and tells Locke that he is her first Pezon.

As they leave Chains tells Locke that the whole ritual was purely for show. That he, Chains, intends to train the Gentleman Bastards so that they can use the secret peace that the Capa values so much to make a fortune. Turns out not everyone follows their Garrista after all and perhaps we now see why Chains values Locke so highly.

Chapter 4

Bug is counting the 5,000 crowns that Lukas has conned out of the Don so far. Locke then walks in dressed as Lukas with another 7,500 crowns – meaning the scheme has now seen them get £12,500,000 / $19,500,000 richer.

The next part I found rather sad. We hear about the three vaults below the temple that are not only stacked with crowns, but also contain foreign currency, purses of readily usable currency and so on. By the time they were done cashing Locke’s current note from the Don they’d have 43,000 full crowns on the shelves (£43,000,000 / $66,520,000).

According to Locke, they could live comfortably for 10 crowns a year – and they do, because spending more than that would raise questions. For this reason the money keeps on piling up. Although Chains trained them superbly for the task of stealing, he didn’t really tell them what to do with all the cash they are storing. It does seem that the Bastards are doing this for fun rather than having an end game.

Once again, Locke is getting ready to meet the Capa – in the present now. They need to pay him about a crown a week to keep him off their back and have a ‘Bullshit box’ full of jewellery and other knick-knacks that will give the appearance that they are still living the lives of petty thieves.

They hire a gondola to take them to the Capa – it has a freshly killed rat on it to ward against them capsizing. Jean is reading verse – the second time we have seen him reading literature now…

We get an explanation of a number of Chalorr’s regions here: The Dregs are poverty-wrecked, the snare is disreputable, the Mara Camorrazza is openly dangerous and ashful is dirty and falling apart.

Note: Jean is from comfortable North Corner. Locke is from Catchfire. The Twins are from Dregs. Bug is from Cauldron – where all the drug dealers and no hopers are from. We don’t know much about Jean or Bug’s origins, but this chapter gives us some clues. We have seen Jean reading literature a few times now and Locke tells us that he is from a comfortable region. Bug on the other hand is from one of the worst regions and despite being close to the Bastards has never talked about what it was like for him growing up there.

The owner of the Gondola explains that last night the Grey King killed his 7th victim – strung him up and cut his balls off – it was another garrista, this time a close friend of the Capa’s son and a big earner. As the boat enters the Wooden Waste we see a mss of ruined ships and a large ship of Tal Verra.

Locke considers the Gray King’s actions so far. It seems he has been killing leaders with ‘the distance’ – the ones not subjected to spies and audits – could he be after Locke too? The Bastards suggest maybe Locke disappears, but Locke says that this will just get them hunted by Capa for abandoning him at his time of need.

We see an amusing scene within No-Hope Harza’s pawn shop where Locke and Co haggle hard to sell the contents of their bullshit box for 16 solons, 5 (less than 1 Crown). Of course, this is peanuts to the Bastards, but they all laugh at how there is no freedom like the freedom of constantly being underestimated.

One of the Capa’s bodyguards warns Locke about Grey King before telling him that Nazca – the Capa’s daughter – would like to see him. On the Floating Grave, Nazca explains that the Capa is starting to get nervous and asking gang members of their whereabouts. It becomes apparent that the Capa is being driven to madness and has started to lock himself away from any possible threat. I see this as a message from Scott Lynch – that you need your whits about you to be a good conman and a leader. The Capa is ageing, perhaps his mind is failing, he is certainly losing the ‘control’ that Chains says you need to be a good thief. Nazca is worried that the Capa needs to be seen to rule, that hiding here will be seen as a weakness.

From where they stand discussing the Capa, Locke can here ‘The Sage’ and Capa are torturing gang members. As they walk into the main room of the ship, Anjais and Pachero – Nazca’s brothers – are there too. Cheryn and Raiza Berangias are sitting in the corner, there as bodyguards to the Capa – remember when Locke said he knew where they were earlier when missing the Revel? The Sage, Kindness, has butter yellow hair of the Therin families.

They are questioning Tesso’s men, but all claim to remember nothing of what happened – although Capa is sure they do. Things get ugly when Kindness breaks a glass into a drawstring bag, places it over one of the men’s head and begins to massage it into his face until he dies. The other man is thrown beneath the boat to be eaten by some monster the Capa keeps. Both men die maintaining that they remember nothing.

Note: Either the men remember nothing due to some kind of magical spell or the Grey King is more fearsome than the Capa.

Locke did a good job by bringing less than he should have to the Capa, he sees it as realistic – others bring him the same each month and it pisses him off. Turns out Nazca is his record keeper. Capa says although he has many men stronger, braver, more profitable than Locke – Locke is the one man he can rely on to always show up, always be honest – he needs Locke’s reliability and cautious calculation going forward. The fact that Locke is in control of his own greed can be used to backup his sons if they are ever to be Capa’s. Once again, the Capa says that he believes that his daughter should become Capa really, because she is similar to Locke – but that the brothers wouldn’t have it. What he wants instead is for Locke to court her so that they can marry and work together to support the brothers. Locke says that he will do it, however upon leaving he speaks with Nazca and they agree that although good friends, neither has those kinds of feelings for one another and will have to come up with an alternative.

Later that night, everyone is nervous about the Grey King and want to bail out of their current job. Although Locke agrees to takes precautions, he doesn’t want to drop the Don scam like everyone else… He argues a little with Jean about it – but Locke puts his foot down as Garrasta in the end.

Note: Apparently no one knows that the Bastards still live in the temple. They fake renting rooms in various locations.

Well, that brings us to the end of this week’s incredibly in-depth reading of Chapters 1-4 of The Lies of Locke Lamora. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading so far – please do leave some comments as to how you are getting on.

What I think will be fun is if I leave us with some questions to discuss. Here they are:

Questions:

  1. What do you think of Scott Lynch’s narrative style?
  2. What do you think of the way Scott Lynch weaves, sometimes giving us present day events and then going back and explaining them in a different timeline?
  3. What do you think of Locke? Is he a good guy surviving the only way he can or is he a bad guy that is too loveable to hate?
  4. Other than Locke, who is your favourite character?
  5. Do you think I am right with my guesstimate of currency? If not, do you have a better working out?
  6. Finally, what do you think happened to the Elders? Were they human? Were they mages?
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Gentleman Bastard Read Along - Chapters 1-4, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
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5 Comments

  1. 1&2) I love Scott Lynch’s narrative style. I think feeding the background information through flashbacks and moving forward to the current story really works. I’m not sure it’s something most authors could handle – it could easily become confusing or the background information could seem to get in the way of the ‘current’ story – Scott has a knack of revealing just enough at the right times. It perhaps shouldn’t work, but in his hands it most definitely does. This is why he went straight to the top of my favourite authors list.

    3)My gut instinct is to defend Locke, because of course as the protaganist we love him. BUT as I think about it, is he really good? Maybe at first he needed to survive this way, the only way he knew, but then he accrued (or they accrued) enough money to do whatever they wanted and still he carried on thieving, nearly everyone has the capability of changing their circumstances. If I read this in the paper I would certainly not think him a good guy who was surviving. However, deep in the core of him, he is a good guy., it is just his actions that aren’t. I’m on the fence for this one I’m afraid!

    4)Jean Tannen. I love all the bastards and Father Chains (who I can’t help picturing as Fagin) but Jean Tannen is one of my favourite characters ever, if he was real I would be in serious danger of stalking him. I do love the twins and Bug as well, they are a great gang. I do fall in love with good characters and that is why these books are my favourite, Scott has an amazing way of creating brilliant characters.

    5)I’d say you are right re the currency. I kind of don’t care about the details like the money.

    6)I don’t think they were human – or if they were they were like heightened humans, humans with extra abilities. Though I don’t have a clue what those abilities could be.

  2. Gabriel Davis says:

    5.) My only problem with the money is that the sums boggle my mind. For example, Dona Sophia is flabbergasted to do the mental math in her head that she and her husband might make “millions” of crowns from their percentage of the transplanted brandy. If we are going by your math, that would be in the trillions of dollars, and I just have a hard time believing that the figures could be that astronomical. If we are going on pure guesses, I want to take a zero off of each of your numbers. (But, I have no really good reasons.

    4.) My favorite character other than Locke is probably Father Chains. He is a beautiful mix of cultured and crass, and I do love how he mixes his coarse language with the instructions on higher etiquette and culture.

  3. Khaldun says:

    This read-along should be on Tor.com.
    Loved this, and am looking forward to more. Thanks!

  4. Bibliotropic says:

    Very much enjoying my reading of this book. Thanks for starting to readalong and giving me a good excuse to stop putting it off!

  5. Alister says:

    I’m really enjoying this second time around. I hadn’t forgotten how good it is, but… wow, I’m so impressed, I dare say I’m loving it even more this time. Anyway, to business…

    1) Quite possibly my favourite narrative style in many years. Scott’s prose is so warm, it’s like having a conversation with an old friend. It feels like there’s a knowing humour to it – not tongue-in-cheek, but the real feeling that he’s a writer who’s enjoying himself with a world and characters that he loves. The reader is given just enough information to fill in the blanks within their own minds, meaning we’re never bogged down in description.

    2) The back and forth works really well, giving us insights into characters pasts (and the contrasts with their present) as well as creating supense that’s brilliantly paid off. Scenes that work particularly well for me are the meeting with Barsavi the first time contrasted with the older version, and the ‘Midnighters’ approaching the Don, making us think Locke’s game is up, only for it just to be beginning. Brilliantly done.

    3) Locke really should know better, but he can’t help himself. That’s why I like him; he’s flawed, we can see those flaws, yet we’d be happy to rank amongst his friends. It would be corny to call him ‘the theif with a heart of gold’, but there’s nothing malicious, cruel or evil about him. He’s a victim of the circumstances that have made him who and what he is, and that just makes him more realistic. I’d say he’s a good guy who doesn’t know any better!

    4) Jean Tannen, based on having read both books. For these chapters only, I’d say Father Chains.

    5) I’d say you’re about right with the money, but before you’d mentioned it, I’d never thought about it. They’re fleecing a rich aristocrat for half his fortune, that’s all I need to know.

    6) I’d never given the Elders much thought either, other than thinking they were likely to be Elves. Now I’m not so sure. Are they aliens? Humans that have colonised another planet? Has Scott decided? hehe 🙂

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