Gentleman Bastard Read Along – Chapters 13-16
Welcome to the final week of our Lies of Locke Lamora Read-Along. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last four weeks as much as I have and that you’ve gotten a more enjoyable, fuller and deeper appreciation of the work Scott Lynch put into this novel than if you’d read it on your own.
Certainly this is the case for me. Many of the Gollancz commenters gave me answers to the questions I had about why the Handball Interlude was where it was. Rather than one answer, I got two very plausible ones: the first being that perhaps it was put there to show that Camorri people are willing to wait half a life time for revenge and that they do not forget (which fits in with The Grey King’s story) and that it shows that Locke is out of place (Locke wants revenge on The Grey King and Falconer instantly). I was glad to see that many people didn’t get this on the first read either. And, actually, Scott has talked about how he’d remove / change a few of the interludes around if he could rewrite the book.
Also, it’s nice to see that all our Gollancz Reader-Alongers have a heart, as there was more than one commenter who said they had to hold back the tears upon reading about Galo and Galdo’s deaths. Certainly, out of the hundreds of Fantasy books I’ve read over the years, the twins’ deaths remain the most shocking and unexpected for me and you have to applaud (and fear) Scott for being able to do that.
Anyway, heading into this last week we were all ready to get revenge, right? The Grey King had robbed us of a light-hearted story featuring a loveable band of rogues and turned the whole World into a dark and dangerous place; one where Locke isn’t – as we’d always assumed – the smartest man in the room. This last quarter forced Locke and Jean to put their arse-kicking caps on and whilst I’m not sure that we can claim a happy ending, it was certainly one hell of a journey, wasn’t it?
Oh, and don’t forget that we will be carrying on this Read-Along with Red Seas Under Red Skies. I hope that our readers will stick with us for that because it is a damned good sequel. Do let us know if you will be
Locke is at Meraggio’s counting house the next morning. He is disguised as a respectable employee with decent clothing, grey hair and a false beard – all paid for by one of Jean’s crowns. The counting house is a four-story hybrid that blends two centuries’ worth of architecture. It has columns, arched windows, facades of stone and lacquered wood as well as decorative and functional galleries of various colours. Within the building are hundreds of businessmen dressed the same way Locke did as Lukas Fehrwight. Locke now considers that the clothes they wear are worth several years of a common labourer’s salary. The place is so well guarded that if Locke was to place an unkind finger on one of these men, the house guards and city watchmen would race, competitively, to knock his brains out.
Seven white crowns, eight gold tyrins and a few solons is all Locke has on him as he walks into Meraggio’s. He tells the guards he has a private message for Koreander Previn. Locke uses the name Tavrin Callas and says he is from the North Corner. Once he gets onto the main floor he sees counters, eight across and eight deep. Each has a merchant, a money-changer, a lawscribe, a clerk or similar sitting behind it – they rent these desks and work here as their base of operations. The more experienced and successful of these are up on higher floors in their own smaller galleries.
Locke arrives at the desk of Koreander Previn, who the Sanzas had used to set up a number of legit accounts years ago. Locke tells Previn that he could earn five crowns by that very afternoon should he work with him. Locke tells Previn that he was set to do an important business transaction later that day but that his wardrobe has been raided and his decent clothing stolen by thieves. Locke says that he fears he may lose the deal should the men he is set to meet find out he was robbed, as the business deal they are set to carry out relies on Locke looking after tens of thousands of crowns. Locke points out that he and Previn are of the same size and asks to borrow his clothes for the fee of five crowns. Previn points out that the assurance Locke is offering is just 1/4 of the clothing’s worth. Locke says that he is part of the West Iron Sea Mercantile, Previn checks his records and doesn’t find a record of them. Previn begins to get frustrated with Locke and rings a bell that summons guards. Previn asks them to escort Locke from the building.
A few hours later Locke returns to Meraggio’s. He has changed his look, he is now wearing dark clothing and a black velvet cap. He asks to see a lawscribe and claims his name is Galdo Avrillaigne. Rather than waiting as the guard told him, he walks straight to a desk with a young lawscribe who is obviously not as well off as Previn. Locke asks him how he would like to earn five crowns that very day. He is wearing a cream-coloured coat with plum-purple lining visible within the cuffs. Locke spins a similar story about needing clothing, except this time he makes out that he lost his clothing on a ship that was invested by rats (as well as the sweets that he says he is a dealer of). The younger lawscribe, Master Magris, seems to be coming around to the idea when all of a sudden he tells Locke that he knows it is all a trick – that he must be one of Meraggio’s men testing him.
Locke sees Meraggio himself up in the galleries. He is wearing very expensive clothing and Locke notices that he is a very similar build to himself too. Suddenly a plan comes to Locke. Locke drops his accent and pretends that Magris had indeed found him out, that he was an employee of Meraggio trying to trick him. Locke walks up to one of the service entrances and tells the guard that he wants to speak with some of the servants about getting a job. It takes a bribe to get him in, but eventually he does.
Within the service rooms Locke meets a young waiter. He asks him how he would like to make five crowns. The waiter is obviously alarmed, but seeing as Locke is offering him a year’s worth of wages he’s ready to listen. Locke tells the waiter that he works for the Duke and needs to get a message to Meraggio. The waiter offers to deliver the message for Locke, but Locke says he needs to do it himself. Locke talks the waiter into handing over his clothes saying that he will tell Meraggio what happened and he will be fine with it.
The two leave Meraggio’s and head off to a nearby inn. Locke bribes the innkeeper to forget they left the room. They switch clothes and Locke leaves the inn as a Meraggio’s waiter. The guard at the front asks Locke why he is entering through the front door and not the service door, but Locke comes up with a story about being sent out by a lawscribe. He is let in and begins to blend in with the other waiters before making his way to the guards and asking if any of them know Benjaver. Locke tells them that Benjaver has failed one of Meraggio’s loyalty tests and that they are to help him fetch him from the inn.
When they arrive at the inn Locke walks in and says ‘this was a loyalty test’ and has the guards hold Benjaver. Locke takes the coins back saying that ‘he could have been a thief or assassin’. He tells the guards to take Benjaver back to Meraggio’s. Once back at Meraggio’s Locke tells the guards to hold Benjaver in the service room whilst he goes to get Meraggio. Locke makes his way up to the third floor and a guard tells him where Meraggio is. When Locke finds him he is looking out of a window with a pair of men reading to him from tablets. Locke walks up to him and Meraggio quickly tells Locke that ‘YOU do not work for me’. Locke explains that Capa Raza sent him and that he is here to save his life. Meraggio laughs and tells Locke that a guard will cut his balls off unless he tells the truth. He tells Locke to tell him where he got his uniform and Locke tells him that it was purchased from Benjaver who also happens to be involved in the plot to take his life. Locke repeats once more that he is here to save Meraggio’s life and tells him that his own men are not reliable. Meraggio wants to know why the Capa would want to save him even if he was at risk and Locke tells him that he probably doesn’t – it is more the stability of the bank that matters. Meraggio is furious at the situation and still dubious, but gives Locke a chance to explain. Locke tells him that the Capa wants to keep him safe to ensure the city does not lose complete stability. He tells Meraggio that the assassin is a man named Lashani and that his weapons are enchanted by Bondsmagi. Locke tries to get Master Meraggio to follow him to the receiving room behind the kitchens but Meraggio points out that he does not yet know whether Locke is an assassin. Locke tells Meraggio that he could have killed him already and that Capa Raza’s wishes should not be ignored – he tells him about Barsarvi dying weeping at his feet and Meraggio, knowing what a ‘formidable man’ Barsarvi was, finally agrees to cooperate with Locke.
It seems that Meraggio knows Benjaver rather well and is furious that he has betrayed him. When Meraggio asks him whether ‘it is true’ Benjaver says that it is all true (although he means the selling of the uniform – not the assassination attempt). Locke tells Meraggio to chuck Benjaver into a storage room, which he does before telling his guards that should they let another man (such as Locke) in through their doors he’ll cut their balls off.
Locke and Meraggio are upstairs behind a steel-reinforced door. Locke tells Meraggio that he cannot leave the room. Meraggio says that this is impossible, that he needs to be on the floor. Locke explains that they are of a similar build and that the assassin is going to attempt to kill a man wearing a large white orchid at his breast. Locke then offers to dress as Meraggio and put himself in the assassin’s way instead. Meraggio is skeptical that Locke will survive and would be willing to do what he says, but Locke explains that six more of the Capa’s men are on Meraggio’s floors ready to take the assassin down.
Locke is soon leaving the room wearing Meraggio’s clothing – the best he has ever worn. Locke heads downstairs to the room Benjaver is being kept and throws a coin purse of six crowns at him (some of which he lifted from Meraggio’s room). Locke apologises for everything he has put Benjaver through and tells him that he is about to grab him by the ear and haul him out into the alleyway. Benjaver wants to know what exactly Locke told Meraggio, but Locke tells him that they either go now or he stays there to die. As they are leaving Locke tells Benjaver that he must act as if he is terrified and then make a run from the city. Once they get outside, having passed a number of guards, Locke lets Benjaver run and runs to Twosilver Green to purchase the bits and pieces he needs to once again become Lukas Fehrwight and relieve the Salvaras of a few thousand crowns more.
Note: In this chapter we see a darkness in Locke as he is truly willing to leave Benjaver behind to die if he doesn’t comply with his plan.
Note: There are no interludes here, a sure sign by Scott that he is trying to quicken the pace.
Lukas is greeted favourably by Dona Sofia who remarks that it has been days since she last saw him. Lukas explains that everything is in order and the ships can begin sailing from next week. They make their way to the ‘close chamber’, which in Camorr is where intimate and trusted acquaintances are taken. The room is meant to reflect the personality of the lord and lady (the duty chamber where formal affairs are carried out is plainer and more traditional). Lukas commends the decoration and Dona Sofia remarks upon Lukas’s clothes, saying they look more like what a Camorri would wear than his usual thick, dark clothing.
Locke makes out that he needs a few thousand more crowns to tempt a second ship into joining the first that is ready to set out next week. The Don arrives with Conte following him carrying 3 silver bowls, each filled with orange slices. Locke is a bit nervous about eating the oranges, but he eats them anyway. There is a strange taste to them, but Lukas is told that the oranges have been served in their own natural state (liquor from its tree). The Donia says that she is still working on the taste. Then the Don explains that he has run into some financial problems and that he cannot provide Lukas with any more money for now.
Jean, dressed as a priest of Aza Guilla, is gliding through the shadows around the dregs near the area where the Satisfaction is being loaded up. Jean’s focus is on a warehouse where he has witnessed Raza’s men coming and going with heavy bags over their shoulders. When Jean is happy that no-one is watching he slips inside. The first thing he notices is a smell like burnt metal. The place looks relatively empty, but another smell, that of rotting meat, leads Jean to four rotting bodies. Each has a tattoo – two of them are glasswrights and two of them are goldsmiths. Three of the corpses have stab wounds, but one of them has the puncture marks that could only be from the Scorpion Hawk. Around their bodies are dried up pieces of molten glass. Jean prays to Aza Guilla to look after the dead when suddenly the warehouse’s doors are thrown open and the Berangias sisters walk into the warehouse.
Jean explains that he was saying a death-prayer for the foul act that has been committed here. The sisters make it clear that they’ve spotted Jean around these areas the past few days and that they are suspicious as to why he has taken such an interest in this warehouse – even before the death of these four people. The Berangias twins move towards Jean, pulling blades. Jean quickly throws off his robes and reveals his true self. The sisters are surprised and amused, they thought Jean had fled to Viscount’s Gate. The twins tell Jean that they will kill him like they did the Sanza twins – Jean tells them that it certainly won’t be easy and is fired up by the fact that the twins killed his two closest friends. He pulls his blades with the words ‘Wicked Sisters, I’d like you to meet Wicked Sisters.’
Note: We now know that it was the Berangias twins who killed the Sanzas.
We are taken back to the meeting between Lukas and the Salvaras. The Don and his wife are explaining that not all is lost, that the two of them are going to tap their sources and gain the funds Lukas needs for the second ship. The two explain that they will be able to acquire funds on The Day of Changes when there is a festival and feast at Raven’s Reach with the Duke. Lukas is reluctant at first but the Savaras tell him that it is a real honour to bring an unusual and interesting guest to such an event. Eventually Lukas agrees.
Note: Surely Locke should realise that something fishy is going on here? He thinks they think that the Spider (Locke’s version) is onto Locke. He therefore must presume that they hate him deep down. Why would they then invite him to a feast? I guess you could say he is blinded by desperation.
Jean is considering that two opponents is the worst number to face as they don’t tend to get in each other’s way. He considers that his one advantage is that he has seen the two of them fight and so has an idea of their style. The sisters are excited to fight Jean as they’ve heard he is good although they seem to win the early exchanges – most notably when one of them lands a Chasson kick to Jean’s head. After a back and forth battle, the Twin’s professionalism allows Jean to predict their next moves and he is able to crack one in the skull with his axe. The remaining sister retaliates and manages to wound Jean fairly badly. She calls out to Jean that ‘you’re bleeding hard, Tannen. You won’t live out the night’. Jean doesn’t disagree, but he tells the surviving sister that Calo and Galdo Sanza are laughing at her as he throws his remaining hatchet and strikes her between the eyes – sending her into death to join her sister. Jean quickly retrieves his axes and realises that he must now race to the dog leech if he is to survive.
In her solarium on Amberglass Tower, Dona Vorchenza (a.k.a The Spider) is looking over her notes. She is aware of the Grey King’s ascension to Barsarvi’s seat and that he has had a number of her spies routed out of their positions and sent running from the city. She decides that either her spies were clumsy, Raza was fantastically observant or she had a breach in her security. It’s the last thing she needs as things with the Thorn seem to be coming to a close. She is just coming up with a way to scare Capa Raza a little – perhaps using Stephen and 50 black coats – when the door to her solarium slides open and Capa Raza himself strolls in with the Falconer. At first Dona Vorchenza tries to play ignorant, claiming that she doesn’t know who or what the Spider is, but the Capa quickly convinces her to drop the act. The Spider asks why Capa Raza killed Barsarvi and he tells her that he’d been planning his downfall for twenty years. The Spider then explains that she liked Barsarvi’s perceptiveness and that their arrangements had borne much fruit for both sides. Capa Raza quickly states that he would like the arrangement – The Secret Peace – to continue. It doesn’t seem it will be that simple, though, as Capa Raza tells the Spider that he wants an invitation to the Duke’s feast at Raven’s Reach. He promises to act and dress as a gentleman and bring the Duke a gift. The Spider explains that their Worlds are not meant to meet and takes the opportunity to ask why Capa Raza didn’t kill her men rather than exile them. He tells her that it was a friendly gesture. She tells Capa Raza straight that it won’t be possible and he asks in return why Meraggio, a man who consistently used Barsarvi’s services, is invited as a guest and not he. The Spider explains she didn’t get this job due to a soft heart and sticks firm at her refusal. Capa Raza tells her he refuses her refusal and the Falconer stitches her name in sheets of parchment: Angiavesta Vorchenza. The Falconer does some kind of mind control on her and within minutes she is begging Capa Raza to join her and the Duke at the Raven’s Reach feast. Capa Raza tells her he would be delighted to attend and that he has gifts to bring her, four sculptures that he would like to place in Raven’s Reach before his arrival.
The first criminal revolution came 50 years before Barsarvi in the form of a man called Rude Trevor, an intemperate, murderous lunatic (and then some). He works as a pimp to a large group of whores and abuses them on a daily basis. One of his whores is fed up with his demands and stabs him in the groin. She then jumps on his back and sits on him. The Capa sends another man to lead the brothel and they seem inviting and invite him to try their services. Once he takes his clothes off they stab him too. The Capa, now aware of the situation, sends five men to subdue the women. When they arrive though the whores have been joined by two or three more brothels and wield all kinds of weapons. As the days, weeks and months go on it turns into a war where brothels are burnt and whores are killed, but the whores mostly kill the Capa’s men on an equal basis. An uneasy truce eventually forms and the whores find themselves in charge of their own affairs. Hard lessons are handed out to men who don’t abide by their rules of cleanliness and soberness. By the time Barsarvi arrived, he was wise enough to understand that the women of Camorr can be underestimated only at a great cost to one’s health.
It is the day of the Duke’s Feast and Locke is getting ready to leave as Lukas. The dog leech tells Locke he needs to start taking better care of himself and Jean too. Locke argues that he is their doctor and not their mother. Jean has been wrapped up and it looks as though he is going to be fine. Locke tells the dog leech that he and Jean are grateful for his help and intends to pay him some good money for his services and that the rest he gains will be used to take down Capa Raza. Jean notices that Locke is excited about visiting Raven’s Reach and Locke says that he is – Chains would be proud that he is getting to play a scam right in front of the Duke. The dog leech points out that Locke has an impressive level of professionalism, that the false-facing is impressive and unexpected. Locke says that that’s the point.
It is the Day of Changes on the 78th year of Aza Guilla. The city of Camorr is going mad. At its centre is a floating handball court where the commoner matches are getting wilder and dirtier. Across Camorr a number of Spiritual rituals are taking place. In the cauldron, the narrows and the dregs, the shadier people of Camorr are enjoying free casks of cheap red wine sent out by the Capa. The Capa’s garistas give out loaves of bread with copper or silver coins baked into them. No-one has seen Capa Raza himself, though, because he is, of course, at Raven’s Reach taking part in the Duke’s Feast. Not far away, the crew of the Satisfaction are eating a large meal. We are told they are getting ready for whatever it is their true purpose is and that contrary to what we were told earlier, not a single man or woman on board is infected with any kind of plague.
At the foot of Raven’s Reach are a hundred or so carriages surrounded by around 400 guards and drivers who have men in the Duke’s colours waiting on them until their Lords and Ladies descend Raven’s Reach once more. Today is the only day of the year when nearly every pearl of Camorr, every lesser noble from the Alcegrante islands and every last member of the Five Families in their glass towers would be crammed together in one place to eat, drink and scheme. Each year the younger generations – that will one day rule – watch the older generations greying. There were even the odd whispers that Nicovante had ruled too long. Lukas is coming up one of the six chain-elevators with the Salvaras.
Lukas exclaims his pride at standing in a room with so many high profile nobles. The Don and Dona explain it is only overwhelming the first 10-15 times you attend. Stephen Reynart approaches the Salvaras and Lukas and introduces himself, explaining that Dona Vorchenza is knitting – the three smirk and Locke notices they are sharing a private joke. Stephen greets Lukas in Vadran, which surprises Locke. Stephen explains that he was of Vadran blood, but that his parents died on a trading mission when he was young. Dona Vorchenza adopted him and raised him in the Amberglass Tower – although he is technically her stepson he cannot acquire any of her wealth or titles, but he has been allowed the honour of serving in the Duke’s Nightglass Company. Lukas says he is impressed and compliments Stephen’s look. As Stephen takes them into the tower Dona Sophia explains that Dona Vorchenza is like a grandmother to them all, but tells Locke that she is losing her mind a little with age.
Locke gasps as he enters the Tower of Raven’s Reach. From the outside it is opaque silver, but inside it is nearly transparent – a smokey haze blocks out the brightness of the sun. In all other ways it allows you to enjoy the beautiful views without hindrance… so much so it is as if the glass is not there. There is a beautiful ‘Sky Garden’ atop a near-by roof where the younger children are playing whilst their parents talk business. Locke panics a little as he sees the floor too is transparent and begins to feel vertigo – The Don laughs that Lukas has Raven’s Reach Disease and he will need a few drinks to cure himself. Lukas and The Don make their way to the incredible banquet table. The taste of the food impresses Locke and he considers that even the Sanzas would have struggled to make food of this quality. At the centre of the table is an amazing sculpture of Camorr made purely of food – the attention to detail amazes Locke. The Don assures Lukas that he has spoken to one of his peers and that he is confident that he will be able to acquire the funds Lukas needs for the ships. Four golden glass sculptures are carried past Locke, one of them is a pyramid crested with the arms of Camorr – it glows green and orange alchemically. When the Dona asks how she can get one Reynart replies that they are gifts from one of the Duke’s more unusual guests (note: he says they have been cleared by his men).
Lukas turns around and ends up face to face with Meraggio. He passes his gaze over Lukas and then brings it back upon him, he goes to say something but the Salvaras and Reynart come to Lukas’s side. Lukas introduces himself to Meraggio and says he had always wanted to meet Meraggio, but had never had the chance. Lukas is, of course, wearing Meraggio’s clothing, although Locke manages to convince him that he requested it from his tailor. Meraggio seems to be confused about whether Locke is the man who tricked him or telling the truth and excuses himself. Dona Sofia asks Lukas if he will come meet Dona Vorchenza with her. The Don says that Locke may well find a woman who is little more than a statue and Stephen agrees. On the way towards Dona Vorchenza’s rooms Locke spots one of the pyramids and begins to wonder what it might be… Then Capa Raza walks up the stairs. Capa Raza halts dumbfounded and hatred crosses his face. Capa Raza introduces himself as Luciano Anatolius to Dona Sofia and asks who Lukas is. Lukas explains he is of Bel Auster. The two make it clear that they know who one another are by discussing casks. Lukas then asks Capa Raza if he has a pair of sisters, because he seems to remember that he does. The Capa says that he does not and excuses himself saying that he has business to attend. Lukas holds out his hand and says that perhaps they will meet again soon. Locke thinks about how much he’d like to stab the Capa, but doesn’t have the ability to quickly equip his stiletto.
Dona Sofia takes Locke to Dona Vorchenza. She is on her own in a small room deep within Raven’s Reach knitting – Locke thinks she looks like she belongs in a fairy story. She doesn’t respond to Dona Sofia’s calling of her name and again she explains that Dona Vorchenza isn’t all there anymore. She asks if Lukas will stay with her whilst she goes to get them all a drink. Suddenly Dona Vorchenza stabs Locke with one of her knitting needles which is poisoned with Grief-willow – a poison that will kill him within minutes. Locke demands to know why she did that and Dona Vorchenza tells Locke that he can drop the accent because she knows he is the Thorn. The Spider tells Locke that she can give him the antidote in return for his cooperation. Locke can’t believe that such an old lady is the Spider. The Spider tells Locke that he is brilliant and perhaps after a few years in the Crow’s Cages they will think about reducing his sentence for him to join their cause. Dona Vorchenza tells Locke that he will need to answer some questions if he is to get the antidote. She asks him where the money he stole is, how his accomplices are and Locke refuses to answer any of her questions, instead giving her absurd answers. The old lady stares at Locke with satisfaction and seems ready to watch him die if he doesn’t surrender. Then Locke punches her square in the face and takes the antidote from her. She is unconscious as Locke ties her to a chair and climbs out of the window.
Question: What were your reactions to Locke punching Dona Vorchenza in the face?
Locke is climbing down Raven’s Reach. The weird glass makes climbing difficult and terrifying. Locke then notices that an elevator is passing down the tower in front of him (about three feet). Locke prays to the Crooked Warden and tells him that he will do it – he will jump onto the cage if the Warden makes him forget it. Locke screams and jumps onto the cage which swings and makes him feel sick. Locke works desperately to unlock the cage and pulls himself in – slamming the door behind him. Locke decides that if the cage gets pulled up he will take his chances with the Palace of Patience rather than jump again. He reaches the bottom though and bribes the men at the bottom to maintain that they didn’t see him jump into the cage at the top – it was the biggest bird the men had ever seen instead.
Locke runs back to his rooms crying as he enters that they have one huge problem. What he finds though is just as bad: the dog leech and Jean are slumped on the floor, standing in the centre is The Falconer.
Therim Pel was once called the Jewel of the Eldren; it was the largest and grandest of the cities that the lost race of ancients left behind. It was surrounded by fields that would take two days to cross. All the cities to the South of it knelt to the Therin Throne. Engineers built miles and miles of roads to weave these cities together and the empire’s generals manned them to keep bandits off them and to ensure messages and cargo made it to their destination uninterrupted. The Dukes of the many city-states back then took their crowns and silver from the empire itself; the few Dukes who remain are self-declared, as the high lineages dating back to the time of the Therin Throne have long-since been severed.
The Therin Throne entered into decline when the Vadrans appeared from the North. They were raiding sea people and smashed every army that the Therins sent North. The end to the throne came when the Emperor in Therim Pel sent a letter to the newly formed Bondsmagi of Karthain demanding they halt their expansion. The Bondsmagi replied with a letter that listed the prices for their services. Furious, the Emperor prepared to march to war with Karthain with the promise to kill any with the title Bondsmage. The Emperor’s entire army manage to kill around twelve on the road. The Bondsmagi, even then, had rules against anyone killing any of their kind. When the Duke’s men arrive in Karthain they are quickly killed with magic: the ground boils, phantasms appear, their arrows fall to the ground when they fire them off and the Duke is killed by his own men – hacked into pieces so small that that largest bit of his body remaining to be burnt at his funeral was half a finger.
The Bondsmagi didn’t stop there either. They cooked up a fire storm so large that historians fear describing it. The 400 mages worked together to create a storm so hot it was pure white and once it rained down on Therim Pel the people, houses and everything else were reduced to grey ashes and still, today, the place remains little more than a desert. Except, that is, for the Therin Throne that remains in the centre of the wreckage to remind everyone that it is the Bondsmagi who sent the remaining Southern cities into civil war, they who allowed the Northern cities to become powerful and they who can do that exact thing to anyone who crosses them in the future.
The Bondsmage is surprised that Locke survived ‘their arrangement’; he thought that it was Jean Tannen alone he sought. He topples Locke over in pain using the torture spell he used on him when the Grey King first found out who he was. Locke calls him an animal, but the Falconer says he isn’t, he just does what he is paid to do and he has been paid to kill the person who killed his employer’s sisters slowly. The Bondsmage explains that the blood on the Sisters’ blade led him to Jean and that when he found him still in the city he was surprised as he should have run as far away as he possibly could. The Falconer writes Jean’s name on a piece of parchment and takes control of his body: ‘Take up your hatchets’ he says, ‘kill Locke Lamora’. Jean fights, but the Bondsmage continues to repeat the order. As Jean lifts his hatchet ready to kill Locke, The Falconer changes his mind and tells Jean to drop the hatchet. He says that it would be more appropriate for Locke to kill Jean, so writes Locke’s name in the parchment. He doesn’t know Locke’s surname, but says that his first name will be enough. He tells Locke to pick up the hatchets and kill Jean. Locke lifts the hatchet above Jean and strikes the Falconer in the groin. Both the Falconer and the Falcon fall to the floor in pain – Locke realises the two are connected. The Falconer whispers a syllable and Locke is put back into torturous pain. Jean trips the Falconer over again and grabs him, Locke smashes the Falcon with the blunt end of the hatchet. Locke explains that he didn’t know what his surname meant, he stole it from a sausage dealer who said it once, before asking why the Falconer thought Locke was his real first name. Locke finishes off the Falcon and the Falconer falls unconscious, sobbing.
When the Bondsmage awakens he is bound to the floor – the dog leech has helped them. The Falconer says they are fools if they think to kill him. Locke says he won’t kill him, he will play a game that will see the Falconer scream in pain until he gives Locke answers. The dog leech excuses himself as Locke and Jean approach the Falconer with a hatchet and heated blade. Locke says he won’t kill the Bondsmage, but he will send him back as a reminder of what happens to people that mess with his friends. The Bastards cut a finger off the Bondsmage for each of his friends that was taken. Calo, Galdo, Bug and Nazca… The rest he takes for the inconvenience he caused Jean and Locke. Once they have finished, Locke says that it is now time to talk. The Bondsmage says that he cannot betray a client’s secrets. Locke says that if he doesn’t comply he will take his tongue – the Bondsmage panics and says that he merely had a contract and begs Locke not to do it. Locke says the only way he can leave with his tongue is to answer his questions.
The Bondsmage explains that the reason Capa Raza wanted to kill the Bastards was for the crowns in their vault. The Capa’s real name is Luciano Anatolius. Locke asks the Falconer why the Capa has really taken over from Barsarvi and he explains that it was because of the secret peace – that it was not achieved without bloodshed. Capa Barsarvi killed Capa Raza’s father, mother and three of six siblings… They spent 22 years preparing for the recent take over. The two sisters learnt to fight and the Capa worked as some kind of pirate amassing wealth… The ship he captained was The Satisfaction. Locke and Jean realise that all the money being sent onto The Satisfaction is theirs from the vault and whatever he was stolen from Barsarvi. The Bondsmage says that most of it belongs to his order now for services rendered. The Falconer begins to laugh and ask what the time is. Locke demands to know what is happening and the Bondsmage explains that Capa Raza has a plan. Capa Raza doesn’t simply want to get back at Capa Barsarvi’s people, but also the other half of the secret peace: the nobility, including the likes of the Spider and the Duke. The Bondsmage tells Locke that the pyramid sculptures he saw are full of Alchemical Fuses, Fire Oil and large quantities of Wraithstone smoke set to detonate at false-light. The Falconer says that Locke has a choice… He can either save the 300 or so peers at Raven’s Reach or he can track down the Capa, who will be on his own waiting to be picked up by The Satisfaction. Jean is too injured to leave. Locke says that he will go to Raven’s Reach first to warn everyone – although the Falconer laughs and says that no one will listen to him and just arrest him – and if he has time then he will go after the Capa. Before he leaves, Locke tells Jean to cut out the Falconer’s tongue. He screams.
When Locke arrives back at Raven’s Reach he only has an hour and fifteen minutes to get everyone out. Conte grabs Locke before he can even get to the elevator and is thrown into a carriage. He tells Conte that everyone is in danger, but Conte kicks Locke in the stomach and demands to know where the 16,500 crowns he stole are hidden. Locke says he doesn’t know where they are, they have been stolen from him. Conte tells him a story of how Don Salvara’s father saved his life and that his loyalty to the Salvara’s is undying. Then Conte tells Locke that he should be ashamed of himself, that the Don went into that alley to save his life. Locke tells Conte that he doesn’t feel bad about anything that he has done because the peers have all got where they are due to someone in their line having slit someone’s throat or doing something less than honest to get there. Locke then repeats his need to get back into Raven’s Reach, but Conte tells him that he doesn’t believe him and will not believe him. Locke says he needs to speak to Dona Vorchenza and Conte asks why he needs to talk to the fading old lady. Conte says he will take him if he gives him his real name, Locke says it is Tavrin Callas. Conte and two of his men take Locke up the tower and they run into Stephen Reynart. Reynart tells the guard to throw Locke into a room and lock him there until after midnight – two guards need to keep eyes on him at all times. Locke began shouting that Reynart needs to look at the sculptures. Locke says that unless Reynart listens to him and looks at the sculptures he will shout the Spider’s identity. Stephen says that it is impossible, that his men checked the sculptures before they allowed them into Raven’s Reach. Stephen threatens to gag him, but Locke fights him and says he wants to see Dona Vorchenza first.
Stephen relents and tells him that if he shuts up he will take him to see Dona Vorchenza before they lock him up. Dona Vorchenza and the two Salvaras are sitting in the room nursing the Spider’s face. Dona Vorchenza punches Locke in the face. Locke tells the Spider about the four sculptures and, again, Locke is told that the Duke’s men must have checked them. Locke calls Dona Vorchenza the Spider in front of the Salvaras. Dona Vorchenza warns that anyone in this room who repeats that fact will have their throats slit. The Spider explains that she doesn’t believe Locke, that she had the sculptures checked herself and that she met Capa Raza herself and he was a perfect gentleman. The Spider refuses to damage the sculptures at the word of a proven criminal. Locke tells the Spider that everyone in Raven’s Reach will end up as mumbling idiots and Stephen says it couldn’t hurt to check. Again, though, Dona Vorchenza says that Locke should be thrown in a cell. Before Stephen takes him Locke asks Dona Vorchenza what the name Avram Anatolius (the Capa’s Father) means to her and she says nothing relevant. Locke tells her that Capa Raza is his son and he seeks revenge on her and all the other nobles who formed the secret peace. Dona Vorchenza says that Capa Raza was kind to her, but looks confused… Locke asks if she remembers the Falconer and Dona Vorchenza begins to mumble and eventually screams. At first everyone thinks that Locke has done something to her, but after a few minutes Dona Vorchenza recovers herself and says that she remembers now, that she wasn’t going to let the Capa come, but something unnatural changed her mind. When the Spider asks how he knew about Avram Anatolius Locke tells her about what he did to the Bondsmage. The Spider says that what Locke has done is worse than death. Dona Vorchenza says that there is a pyramid on this floor and that they need to be checked. Dona Salvara says she needs to be the one to check them as she knows about alchemical devices.
Dona Salvara begins inspecting the pyramid and breaks the glass of one to see what is inside. The Dona confirms Locke’s story, that there is enough wraithstone in the sculpture to infect the whole tower. At first, everyone thinks about taking the sculptures away from the tower, but Dona Salvara explains that this would be no good, that wraithsmoke rises and would still infect them all. Instead, Dona Vorchenza suggests that they drop them into the 10-foot-deep water system in the Sky Garden. Locke says he wants to help, that if they untie him he will help carry them. The Spider looks at him and asks why he came back to warn them, why he didn’t run away. Locke explains that he may well be a thief and even a murderer, but this is too much. The Spider tells Locke that he can help but that they must speak afterwards – as Conte cuts the ropes, he warns Locke that he will kill him himself should he mess around.
Dona Vorchenza disappears to tell the Duke what is happening. Stephen orders the Black Coats to find all the pyramid sculptures and bring them up to the Sky Garden. Dozens of children are sent away from the Sky Garden, which really is like a miniature forest. They quickly locate the system and throw the four pyramids into the water. Dona Sofia recommends that everyone gets away from the roof.
Later, Dona Vorchenza says that the Capa trying this is as good as declaring war. She says that Stephen must get his men ready as they will invade and throw open the Floating Grave. Dona Vorchenza apologises to Locke, but says he is once again going to be put under arrest. Locke calls Vorchenza an idiot, he explains that the Capa will no longer be at the Floating Grave, that he never intended to remain Capa for very long… he was just using them to get to Barsarvi and get the Spider’s attention long enough to wipe out the peerage of Camorr. Locke tells Vorchenza about the Salvara’s money being stolen by Capa Raza to pay for the Bondsmage. He refuses to tell Dona Vorchenza where all the money is unless they allow Locke to escape and go after Capa Raza. The Spider says that people are hanged in Camorr for stealing just a few silvers and she can’t let Locke go after all he has done. Locke once again tells her that he saved them all tonight and that on her honour she must let him go. Eventually she relents, saying that if he tells them where the money is that she will let him go after Capa Raza, but they will race him to the Capa and shall not apologise if they get there first. She tells Locke that if he resumes his activities she shall have him executed without trial. Locke asks for a sword to do his deed and Stephen throws him his own. Locke tells Dona Vorchenza where the money is (we know that it is being loaded onto the ship). Locke tells Dona Vorchenza that the money is in one of three waste barges. Locke then tells Dona Vorchenza that she needs to sink The Satisfaction, that it has a token crew on it with holds full of animals infected with the whisper whilst he (Capa Raza) flees north. Dona Vorchenza says she will sink The Satisfaction as Locke heads down the elevator after Capa Raza.
We are taken to the docks of the Dregs where watchmen are looking at The Satisfaction. Two of them notice that the boat is full of people who look ready to set sail. Suddenly, shots are fired at the boat and the people on board are set on fire. The boat is quickly engulfed in flames and starts to sink.
The Grey King is standing alone on the Floating Grave watching The Satisfaction burn and also noticing that no white smoke is coming from Raven’s Reach as he had planned. He feels like crying as he remembers his promise and his sisters’ promise that they would ‘never forget’ the death of their parents and siblings… his plan of revenge has failed. A man approaches the Capa with a bag that contains the head and body of the Scorpion Hawk with a note that says ‘we’re coming’. The Capa decides that he will not run from Locke and Jean, that he will wait in the heart of the Floating Grave for them. Locke knows he would lose in a fair fight with The Grey King, but his blood is up and he feels that there may be a chance. The Grey King says he told the Falconer not to toy with Jean Tannen. The Grey King says that by killing Locke he will do him a favour by doing it before the Bondsmagi catch up with him. Locke asks Capa Raza why he did what he did, why he didn’t just come to Locke and demand the money. Locke tells Capa Raza that he would have handed over the whole vault if it meant saving the lives of Bug, Calo and Galdo. Capa Raza is surprised, he asks what kind of thief doesn’t cling to what they have? Locke says that it is one who has something better. For him the stealing has always been more important than the keeping and that they honestly couldn’t find anything to do with it all. Capa Raza says that this is all easy to say in hindsight, that something different would have been said when they were all alive. Locke asks how someone who has experienced all that Capa Raza has experienced could do almost the same thing to him. This riles Capa Raza who jumps up and asked if Locke’s parents were killed in their beds to protect a lie or whether his siblings were killed to stop any chance of vengeance. Locke says that he did indeed lose three brothers to the Capa’s hands and that he almost lost four. Locke says that in addition to the nobles at the parties there were a huge amount of kids that would have died too. The Capa says that they were guilty as descendants.
Without further discussion Locke whispers that justice is red and the Capa agrees and they launch themselves at one another. Locke clumsily manages to defend himself against the Capa’s high speed attacks. Everything Locke throws back at the Capa is parried or spun away. The Grey King realises that Locke can’t beat him with skill – that Locke’s moves are not anywhere near his own. The Grey King falls upon Locke and his brutal attacks are undefendable Locke he is eventually cut badly. Locke prays to Aza Guilla for revenge and tells The Grey King that the difference between them is that he will have his revenge. Just as he says this he is stabbed by The Grey King and as he falls to the floor The Grey King shatters his wrist and kicks him in the face. Locke feels the full shame of his failure, of being unable to claim his revenge. As The Grey King approaches Locke an animal instinct overcomes him and he bites his hand so hard that his teeth strike bone. Locke tries to grab The Grey King’s dagger from his hip, but The Grey King pushes him to the ground and begins pummelling him. The Grey King is laughing saying that ‘you cannot beat me’. Locke begins to laugh as well and says ‘I just have to keep you here until Jean turns up’. Suddenly, Locke says ‘there he is’ and The Grey King spins around long enough for Locke to grab the dagger and slam it into The Grey King’s back. As The Grey King falls Locke stabs him in the chest and then again in his neck – sawing at it until he dies. With each stab Locke recites the name of one of his brothers who were killed: Calo, Galdo and Bug.
Note: Bug’s real name was Bertilion Gadek and Locke refers to him as ‘his apprentice’.
Jean finds Locke unconscious and thinks he is dead. Jean is angry and when Locke comes around demands to know why he didn’t wait for him. Locke says that he thought Jean was hurt, but that Jean shouldn’t worry as he is dead now and that the boat is sinking. Jean explains that he sent the Capa a note to keep him on the boat until he arrived. Locke remarks that revenge is ‘a shit business’ and that Jean needs to leave because in a few minutes he will be dead and either the Capa’s men or the Spider will arrive to take him away. Jean gets angry once more and says that ‘that is a hell of a thing for you to say’. Locke asks Jean to promise that if he ever finds Sabetha… Before he can finish Jean tells Locke that he isn’t leaving him – despite Locke’s cries that he will be caught by the black jackets. Locke falls unconscious as Jean carries him away.
The final Interlude in the book takes us back to the time Chains told Locke that ‘some day, Locke Lamora, 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 am still around to see it.’ Locke’s reply is, ‘Oh, please. It’ll never happen.’
It is the eighteenth of Parthias in the Seventy-Eighth year of Aza Guilla – the day after the Day of Changes and the whole city is hungover. A watchman approaches his sergeant saying he has found something ‘pretty fucked’. Pulling back the cover of his cart he reveals a fingerless, tongueless Bondsmage moaning in pain. The watchman explains that he was found tied up in Ashfall with a note saying that he is for the Spider to send back to Karthian. The two watchmen are keen to hand him over to the Palace of Patience and to forget they ever saw him.
Dona Vorchenza is sat at Camorr Bay watching her men search the last of the three barges. They find nothing and the Spider realises that Locke must have lied to her. Suddenly, she realises what happened and why. The Capa was sending charitable donations to the ship, so that must have been where the money went. When Stephen asks why Locke would sink so much money (we have to presume it would be in the hundreds of thousands of crowns), Dona Vorchenza explains that it was a death offering to his three lost friends (Calo, Galdo and Bug).
Note: You may remember Locke promising a death offering ‘that will stop the Gods’ and ‘that will make the Duke look like a pauper’.
Dona Vorchenza tells Stephen that all the truths behind this affair will be declared state secrets, that The Thorn of Camorr is just a myth, the money he stole never existed and that the Spider never took an interest in the matter. Dona Sofia is shocked and says that it is through embarrassment and an unwillingness to talk that The Thorn got away with so much previously. The Spider says she doesn’t doubt it, but she can’t afford for the state to look weak. The Spider says she wants the Salvaras to come back to her Tower with her to discuss their punishment. Dona Sofia panics and asks it having 17,000 crowns stolen wasn’t enough. The Spider says it wasn’t, that she intends to name them as heirs to Amberglass Tower. The Don is surprised, he says there are families higher in rank than them who should be named before they are. Dona Vorchenza tells them not to get too excited, that it comes with a job because she can’t live forever: They will become the Spider once she dies.
Locke and Jean are on a boat. The dog leech is with them telling them that they are idiots for being up on deck, that they need to rest. Jean and Locke tell him that they will be fine and begin discussing the events of the last few days. Jean says that he is sorry he couldn’t do more for Locke at the end and Locke tells him to stop being stupid. Jean also apologises for using his real name all this time. Again, Locke tells him to forget it, to choose another name (such as Tavrin Callas) and remember that he killed the deadly twins and pulled Locke from the casket which was certain death. Jean tells Locke that he would rather be dead than lose him, that he is all he has left. There is a silence and Jean apologises for letting his mouth run away with him. Locke eventually tells him to cheer up. Locke and Jean agree that if this, their current situation, is winning it isn’t all that. Jean eventually asks Locke what his real name is and Locke whispers it to him. Jean says Locke is definitely a better choice.
Note: So, Locke’s name is five syllables. Anyone care to guess what it might be?
Question: The Meraggio chapter felt like an Ocean’s Eleven inspired mini-adventure all to itself. What did you think of it? Did it feel a little out of place or do you think that it did well to lighten the book a little after all the dark events that occurred just before it?
Question: The Interlude about the Camorri brothels is an interesting one. It seemed as if it would have been better coming a little bit earlier. Why do you think Scott Lynch chose to include this Interlude where he did, so late in the book? What do you think it added to the story?
Question: Although we had the Bondsmagi, Magic and Mythical creatures were more ‘in the background’ of this novel. It’s worth noting that this was one of the first fantasy novels that, despite being set in a fantasy world, features very little fantasy (many followed / were released around the same time such as Joe Abercrombie’s or Doug Hulick’s books, for example). What did you think of the lack of ‘fantastical’ elements?
Question: Do you think we’ve seen the last of the Bondsmage or do you think he’ll be back?
Question: Do you think the fact Locke saved so many nobles makes him a good guy after all? Do his past crimes deserve to be forgiven for the saving of so many lives?
Question: What were your favourite and least favourite parts of the book?
Question: Where does Locke Lamora stand in your list of all-time great fantasy books? Is it right up there or does something hold it back?