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Gentleman Bastard Read Along – Chapters 5-8

Welcome to the second week of our incredibly in-depth Read Along of The Lies of Locke Lamora. Last week was great fun, there were some really intelligent answers to the array of questions I raised and, as I expected, this Read Along is really enhancing the reading experience for me :) It’s interesting to see the love-hate relationship readers have with the interludes. I’m with the ‘love’ group, I feel that Scott shows us just enough in the chapters to have us asking questions that he then answers in the interludes. You may be interested to know that Scott himself is unsure about them. In an interview I did with him a couple years back he said that at times the transitions are ‘not particularly smooth‘, and that they’d be one of the things he’d change about this first book if he could now as a more experienced author.

I really liked the thoughts people gave about the Elder race. Thile’s belief that they were an Atlantis like society was really cool and I tend to agree. Alister Davison’s idea that they could have been like Elves or the theory he shares with many other readers that they were a kind of alien race is very cool too. What is interesting is that so many people ‘like the mystery’ of it and yet an equal amount of people want to know more about them… I guess you truly can’t please everybody, right? :D

Anyway, let us begin this week’s Read Along post – this time it’s all about The Grey King.

Interlude

Locke learns the ways of a Perelandro Priest under Chains and each day is made to spend two hours learning to read and scribe. The Sanza twins laugh at his poor efforts early on, so Locke dusts the twins beds with chilies in retaliation. Chains is impressed that despite their best efforts the Sanza are unable to get Locke back due to his paranoia, Chains believe that the brothers have met their match in mischief. In addition to reading and writing Chains teaches Locke foreign languages, how to cook, how to set tables, how to eat, what to wear in various situation. Locke observes that Chains is teaching him pretty much everything except actually thieving.

Note: The paranoia quote is interesting, it suggests Locke was fearful of sleeping. Is this just the kind of fear anyone would feel sleeping on the streets or another clue to his past?

One day Chains comes to the boys and says he needs them to steal a corpse – it needs to be warm and juicy. It’s for a Black Alchemist that Chains owes a favour to. The Twins relinquish the planning to Locke and are even grateful that he offers to do it – Chains recognises this as the moment Locke became their leader.

The next day Locke sets out on his own to think about how he will get a corpse. Locke learns what a powerful thrill it is to walk around in an effective disguise. There is a description of the Cat Bridges that run across cannel to old citadel – they are narrow glass arches arranged in pairs across the river. Their surfaces are rough as leather and remain the only way of crossing water at many points.

The Old Citadel where Locke ends up had been the home of the Dukes centuries earlier. Then, when one of the Duke’s ancestors took up residence in the silver tower, Ravon’s Reach, his old family fortress in The Old Citadel had become the tower of patience – the heart of Chamorr’s justice – where the Yellowjackets and Duke’s Magistrates do their business. The Duke’s Magistrates are the twelve men and women who presided over cases, each named after a month of the year, their tools are the dungeons and gallows within and surrounding their fortress. Many believe that those hung off the black bridge are reincarnated as a shark – why Chamorr bay has such a problem with the creatures. Over the years the Magistrates have tried to reduce the number of people who were hanged off the bridge, so they have ‘other things’ too.

The fortress is ten stories high and made of black and grey stone. There are huge glass mosaics every other level – the red stained glass are lit by candles and look like eyes. The building is never completely in the dark, a message to the people that the Duke is always watching. Locke believes the worst form of punishment is the prisoners who are left in cages to ‘air out’. These Spider Cages sway in the wind and go up and down ceaselessly so that prisoners cannot get a moments peace.

We see Locke has enjoyed being allowed to scheme and is very pleased with himself to the extent that he grins in a rather creepy fashion once he works out how to do it. When Chains asks about his plan, Locke tells him it is brilliant. Locke tells Chains that he needs the names of people due to be hung and a little bit of money.

Penance day is the traditional day of hangings. Priests and guards surrounds those due to be dropped at noon. Locke and the twins arrive to the hanging of Antrim One Hand. Locke speaks with one of the clerks and makes up a story about Chains needing the body to pray for his favour in the next World. Locke says he knows this is creating trouble, but provides money as a bribe. The boys are sitting around watching the corpses being bought up and pulled away in carts by horses that are draped with cloth of black and silver – colours of the Death Goddess. A young priestess of Aza Guilla (Lady of the Long Silence) questions Locke and the Sanzas as to why they are taking the corpse. She wears a silver-mesh mask and refers to them as little brothers of Perelandro, showing a link between the Gods. A braided silver cord around the priestesses neck showed that she is more than just an initiate.

The trio head into the Videnza district with the body; it is relatively clean and well patrolled. There is a market square of merchant-artisans, recognised names that don’t fancy the hustle and bustle of the shifting market. The roofs have very bright colours and the Merchants trade from the bottom floor of their own houses. They take the cart to the shop of Ambrosine Strollo, furnisher to the Duke. Chains had previously told Locke that the people of Videnza offered genuine felowship to Perelandro due to their profits coming in steadily and them living a relatively comfortable life unaffected by thieves. We are told that Alchemical globes had replaced candles mostly – but that candles are still used in ceremonies and in temples. Locke takes half a dozen of the four kinds he needs for just three solons, allowing the lady to see that he has twelve more in his purse. Upon leaving he is barged into by Calo dressed as a beggar. Locke makes out that Calo stole the silver that he let the lady see. Because Videnza takes pride in the fact it is such a safe place, people are furious that a priest has been robbed. They promise to hunt the thief with batons, but – according to plan – begin presenting offerings to Locke as way of apology. When Locke returns to the temple, Chains asked what happened because people keep chucking coins into his kettle ‘for what happened in Videnza’. Locke tells him that he needed to make the fifteen solons back that he used as a bribe. Chains is at first unsure about Locke’s theatrics, but obviously impressed and allows the twins to keep a silver each and Locke the remainder.

Chapter 5

The Don’s wife says that Lukas is spending a lot of his money very fast – Locke makes a note not too push her too far. By the end of the conversation though she remarks that ‘you’ll certainly pay soon enough’, which pleases Locke as according to Chains, ‘the more in control the mark thinks they are, the more easily they respond to real control’. Whilst Conte is showing Lukas out it becomes apparent that the Don and his wife have let him in on the Thorn for he offers prayers for ‘the condition of Lukas’s health’.

Locke crosses into Twosilver Green and is pretty happy about how far ahead he and the Bastards are – they’ve already managed to get 17,500 crowns out of the Don. Locke’s plan is to pull one more touch on the Don before going to ground for a few weeks until the Grey King stuff sorts itself out. After that he’ll work on convincing the Capa to disengage him from Nazca. Locke is sitting in a park and suddenly realises he is completely alone in a place that is usually busy with people walking through and guards patrolling. Realising something is up he goes to leave and find somewhere more public but everything starts to go black and men start dropping from trees. A voice that addresses him as ‘Master Thorn’ tells him he’ll be needing an hour of his time.

Locke awakens, remarking that it doesn’t feel like he’s been drugged, it is as if he dropped out of consciousness and then back into it without any ill effects. Someone tells ‘Master Thorn’ that he has a crossbow pointed at his back. The voice is a pleasantly cultured Camorri with some pronunciations showing he’d spent time abroad. Locke tries to make out he is Lukas and has no idea what is going on, but he is told to drop the act or suffer a bolt through his spine. As Locke turns around, thinking he is about to see the Spider, he sees man who could be anywhere between thirty and fifty who was lean and rangy and grey at the temples. He had the marks of a Camorri: sun-darkened olive skin, high temples, cheek bones and a sharp nose. His leather doublet, silk tunic, cloak, gloves and hood were all grey. Locke asks where the crossbow he was threatened with is and the Grey King tells him that it is at his back, when Locke turns around he sees that a man has appeared where he was looking just a few moments ago. Locke exclaims that the Grey King is a bondsmage, but the Grey King informs lock that he isn’t – he just employs one and with that a slender man not even in his twenties appears in a tailored grey coat with red cuffs and three tattooed lines on his left wrist. In his right hand he held an eagle. This man was ‘The Falconer’, ‘A Bondsmage of Karthian’. Now everyone has been introduced, the Grey King wants to talk about what we wants Locke to do for him.

Chains explains to a cocksure twelve/thirteen year old Locke that no one messes with Bondsmages. There are around 400 of them who have their own city, Karthain and they don’t let anyone else study their art (although there may be little groups of three, five, ten that do anyway). They are utterly jealous, utterly ruthless and without competition – what they do to enemies makes Capa look like a priest. Their prices are so high that its less like mercenary work for them and more like a cruel joke on their clients. They mark their rank by circles on their arms – the more one has the more they charge: perhaps 500 crowns a day for a novice or 1,000 crowns for a journey man. Although they are not indestructible, if you could ever manage to kill one – the rest of the 400 would come after you. They won’t just kill you either, they’ll kill your family, friends, home and essentially leave not a single trace of you – you’ll be informed of this as you die. Chains tells Locke that if he ever meets one to bow down and mind his sirs and madams.

Locke refers to the Bondsmake as ‘an arsehole’ and suffers the wrath of his hawk, which is actually a scorpion hawk capable of killing him with its poisonous talons. The Grey King tell Locke that he knows everything about Locke’s double life and that he has people who will tell the Capa all about it if he doesn’t comply. The Grey King explains that he needs Locke to become him for a day and meet with the Capa using his skills to dress up and act like him. The Bondsmage will keep Locke safe – in addition to the rumors of indestructibility that the Grey King has been so careful to create. Locke will be coached about what to say.  The Grey King assures Locke that once this is done, in three days time, he will allow Locke to walk away from it all… alive.

Locke comes to on a bridge between Coinkissers Row and the Snare. He expects Jean is throwing a fit as to his whereabouts. Turns out Jean, Bug and the Sanzas all panicked when they didn’t hear from Locke and are waiting for him in their Broken Tower room to talk about what happened. Once they hear they all discuss running, but Locke tells them they’d never make it, that they have to obey. Locke wonders who they Grey King is, what his end game is and how he is paying the Bondmage. The rest of the gang still aren’t happy with Locke’s refusal to end the Don scam, but he says the only reason they were going to pull it was incase of the Grey King finding them – now he has found them there is no need to worry. That said, Locke tells everyone to make arrangements to run (by land – not by sea) just incase anything goes wrong. For now the Sanaza will stick together, Locke & Bug will stick together and Jean will be alone, but with his Wicked Sister hatchets. There is a knock on the door, it’s the Capa’s men and they bring news that the Capa wants to see Locke Lamora right away.

Notes: Locke doesn’t listen to Chains.

Notes: Locke isn’t scared of the Bondsmage.

Question: Locke thought the bird had some kind of hatred towards him. Is this the case or just a means of description by Scott?

Question: Who is the Grey King?

Interlude 

As the boys grow older Chains intensifies their training and they are brought closer together through its difficulty. We’re in the month of Saris in the Seventy Seventh year of Iono. Locke is sitting on the Temple’s steps when the Thiefmaker approaches – he remarks that Locke hasn’t grown an inch in two years. He has brought with him a fat boy named Jean who can speak, read and write in three languages (Therin, Vadran and Issavrai) as well as doing complex sums and accounts.

Locke doesn’t like Jean, he doesn’t think he isn’t one of them – a thief. Chains says Locke is right, he is the son of a merchant, but he will make him a thief. Locke complains he blubbers at night and Jean hears him. Jean explains it is because he is an orphan to which Locke replies that he is too and that crying won’t bring their parents back. Jean flips at this, grabbing Locke and attacking him – Chains says he deserved it, Jeans parents only died five days ago.  Later, Jean and Locke are at dinner when Chains places Determiner boxes before them – machines operated by clockwork, sliding tiles and knobs enabling you to do complex math. Chains asks the boys problems to which Jean beats Locke every time. Chains says Jean can eat, but Locke must come back when it is time to clean up. Locke complains, but Chains says he is at an age where better judgement is set aside, we are told Sabetha did the same – part of the reason she was sent off. Chains reminds him of the deathmark around his neck. He then explains that Locke isn’t best at everything, Jean would be a better impersonator of a money changer’s apprentice for example. His figure means he fits in better in some places than Locke too. Locke is embarrassed having bean beaten and even more so when he learns that Jean did so without his glasses on. Chains remarks that he has the rare qualities of a fighter and a mathematician in one and Locke agrees that his skills do indeed make him a Gentleman Bastard after all.

Notes: Another mention of Sabetha and confirmation that she done something which had her originally sent away (for we know she comes back): she set her better judgement aside.

Locke finds Jean on the Temple roof and apologises to him for what he said about his parents. Jean says it is OK and that he is sorry for attacking Locke – he is not himself when he is angry. Locke says that he saw his mother die, but that his dad left when he was very little – he never saw him. Locke says his mother never wanted to talk about him, but Locke thinks maybe he was a sailor or mercenary. Jean’s parents as we know were good people, merchants (who kept cats) – Jean used to help them with their record keeping. Jean was always taught to be honest and now has learnt that thieving has its own God – he feels he can only either starve or be comfortable with Chains and co. Locke feels thieving is an ‘honest trade’ because they work really hard at it. Locke has stolen Jean optics as a way of apologising, but they obviously won’t work. Jean asks Locke if he will help him steal something so that he can make a death offering for his parents. Locke says he will if Jean can teach him how to use a numbers book.

Notes: Locke believes his father was a sailor or mercenary. This could be important, I’d pay more attention to ‘he was away a lot’.

Chapter 6

The Capa’s Men, Red Hands, lead Locke up the gangway of the Floating Grave. Barsavi makes everyone leave before telling Locke that Nazca has been murdered by the Grey King – she sneaked out in the night and was returned in a barrel full of horse piss – an insult to the Capa. Locke notices that her body has two Scorpion Hawk punctures. Locke asks why the Grey King would have done this (more to himself than the Capa) and Barsavi tells him he can ask the Grey King himself because he has received a letter requesting that they meat at the Echo Hole on the 11th hour in 3 days time. The note says he can bring however many Counsellors and armed men he likes, but the Grey King will arrive unarmed. All the note says is that they are to discuss their situation man to man and perhaps abjure the need to lose any more subjects or family members.

The Capa intends to negotiate with blades and bolts. He feels that the Grey King is a foreigner and must have no comprehension over what he has done. The Capa intends to bring his sons, the Berangias sisters, a hundred of his best and cruellest. Oh, and Locke and Jean too. Locke tries to convince the Capa that perhaps going is not a good idea, that it is too dangerous, but the Capa feels that much of what is said about the Grey King is made up – he hides himself and chooses his targets well (as the Capa did when he first came onto the scene). Desperate, Locke tells the Capa that perhaps a Bondsmage is being hired by the Grey King. The Capa doesn’t think anyone could possibly afford one for such a long time and thinks that even if there is one he can kill it with his 100+ men. He tells Locke he wants to be left alone now and asks him to return tomorrow as a Priest to give his daughter a proper send off.

Locke tells the Twins about Nazca and they all feel that the Capa will now either kill the Grey King or get himself killed trying. They also feel the Grey King must know this which means he hasn’t told them everything. Again, the Bastards suggest that they run with their 40,000+ crowns. Locke says they can’t because they have to presume that the Grey King can follow them – it should only be a last resort. Locke is trying to think of a way to be the Grey King and be at the Capa’s side at the same time. The Sanza’s are told to wait with transportation as they are too inconspicuous to pretend to be the Grey King as they suggest. Bug says he will be there lurking trying to spot any coming trouble. Locke says he will speak to the Grey King and/or Sorcerer about having killed Nazca – he will summon them with the candle later that evening.

Question: What is it about the Sanzas that make them so inconspicuous?

Locke pours a glass of wine to an absent friend… Nazca – Locke says she deserved better and begs of the Gods to look after her and that in return they can do anything they like to him. The Bondsmage appears – he is annoyed that Locke has made him climb the stairs. He is without his hawk, although it is apparently nearby circling. The Grey King is busy. The Falconer tells Locke that he and The Grey King are aware that the Capa will never negotiate. Locke tells the Falconer about having to be at the Capa’s side, but the Falconer simply shrugs it off and tells him he’ll have to find a way around it. Locke is starting to get angry, telling the Falconer he knows that he isn’t being told everything and that killing Nazca was going too far, but the Falconer whispers a word and uses a cats cradle-like thread in his hands to cause Locke immense pain and remind him that he belongs to The Grey King.

We are told that Lamora is Therin for Shadow and therefore not Locke’s true name. However, Locke would be just enough for the Bondsmage to inflict upon Locke a lot of pain if he wanted to and if Locke continues to push him he warns that he will. For now, he lets Locke off will a short torture (immense pain to his bones), but tells Locke that he should be very careful about pushing him or The Grey King any further. The Falconer tells Locke that he needs him, however he will torture Bug and the twins if he continues. Locke relents and The Falconer explains that he has brought him The Grey King disguise and that come the day of the meeting he will direct him and protect him. He doesn’t tell Locke how he will do either of these things, but The Falconer feels confident that he can.

Jean meets up with Locke who tells him about what the Falconer did to him. Locke downs half a warm ale. Jean is furious that Locke got tortured, but Locke says that they should wait until the Bondsmage is out of the picture. Jean and Locke say they should use their money to follow him and hurt him. Locke says he is going to take his mind off things by visiting a brothel – he finally realises that Sabetha is miles away. Two hours later Locke is in the Gilded Lilies, he is having problems getting aroused, the woman wants to try a few things more, but Locke is fed up trying – he is too tense. She flips him over and begins massaging him. She tells Locke that she knows he asked for a red head. She knows he wants a particular red head and she also knows that isn’t her (Sabetha). The whore knows about Locke and Sabetha, the Sanza twins hold her about it. Locke groans – apparently everyone in the city knows.

Question: Will the Grey King be killable once the Falconer leaves town?

Interlude

The summer after Jean arrived Chains takes Jean and Locke to the roof telling them that they are big investments – his life’s work. Chains tells them that if someone pulls steel on them he expects them to survive – either by blade or by fleeing. He tells Locke that everyone knows that he has multiple talents, but that they have to admit that he isn’t up to face to face bruising. Locke doesn’t want to admit it. Chains tells him not to feel bad, he will just have to learn to fight wisely and from the shadows. He tells Jean that he on the other hand is fully capable of cracking skulls – a stand up brawler to keep his friends out of trouble. Chains tells Jean that he has got him a pass to the House of Glass Roses – the most exclusive school of arms. The sigil is a frosted glass rose kept within a leather wallet – with it Jean can pass north under the protection of the Master of the House of Glass Roses. Chains manages to blow a ring of smoke – which he usually fails to do. He thinks it is an omen from the Gods, but is unsure whether the scheme is fated to work out or the Gods are pleased with him for engineering Jean’s demise.

Question: Why can Locke kill coldly? 

The House of Glass Roses is a thing of the Eldran – the Elderglass renders it indestructible. The men and women who live and train within are squatters in the most dangerous and glorious place on the Alcegrante slopes. That Don Maranzalla holds it is a sign of his lasting favour with the duke. The Yellowjackets let Jean pass faster then he thought possible – a mingling of fear and pity. The Don’s tower is 5 stories high, the doors are solid wood and the inside smells of sweat, cooked meat and cinnamon – hard work and prosperity. Within is decorated with carpets, tapestries, crystal and glass.

Don Maranzalla was the duke’s personal swordmaster and the commander of his Blackjackets for twenty-five years. The tapestries in The House of Glass Roses are the flags of countless companies who fell against Duke Nicovante and Don Maranzalla in the Iron Sea Wars, the Mad Count’s Rebellion and the Thousand-Day War against Tal Verrar. Jean arrives at ‘the garden without fragrance’. The butler warns Jean to mind his step and to touch nothing. Within are 100,000 roses perfectly carved from Elderglass. They reflect the sun so brightly that Jean is blinded. The merest touch of one would have them suck blood from the human bodies – a number of the roses have red swirling within them. Jean fears the fact that this is where the Don has young men spar – he also wonders what other strange things the Eldren left behind that he doesn’t know about. Jean is told the Don is waiting within the centre of the garden. He can heart grunts of exertion and the sound of steel upon steel. Jean is fearful, but walks through the garden towards the Don pushed on by the fact Chains believed in him. The Don is watching two boys spar, he has shoulder length hair, moustache and tattered clothing – all of the boys put his clothing to shame. It is obvious to Jean that the other boys stare at him (Jean) with open loathing – he is not dressed as they are either. After Jean’s appearance distracts one of the boys and gets his cut with a blade, the Don tells Jean to disappear back into the garden until the current group have finished. Once they have, the Don calls Jean over and insults him by calling him a careless lowborn. Jean spits back that he was born in the North Corner and that his parents were folk of business. The Don apologises for antagonising Jean, he just wanted to see his temper, which Chains had pre-warned him about. Jean remarks that the Don really isn’t a miserable son of a bitch after all, but the Don warns him that by the summer is done Jean will be used to cursing him for all the hard work he will put him through. He will sweat and bleed whilst running through and living amongst his roses. Before they begin their training, the Don tells Jean that he was not born of this region, but actually on a farm – he worked his way to the top. The Don says that the boys who were there before were pansy little shits that are learning to fence, Jean on the other hand will learn to kill men.

Question: Do you think the Eldren were technologically advanced or were they more primitive creatures with the ability to form large structures in a natural way – like termites or bees for example.

Chapter 7

It is cooler than it should be in the Elderglass burrow beneath the temple – Chains often speculated that Elderglass did tricks with more than just light. The bastards are eating apple tarts with a liberal dose of Austershalin brandy making each one worth two or three crowns. Despite this, only Bug can eat so they get down to planning. Locke says that the Sanzas need to pay a visit to Jessaline d’Aubart (the Black Alchemist) as part of his plan to give the Capa a good reason for not showing up to the Grey King’s meeting.

Jessaline and her daughter have a shop in the respectable Fountain Bend. As the Sanza’s walk in the daughter keeps a crossbow levelled on the twins. They explain that they are in need of something to make Locke really, really sick and then something that will make him better again very, very quickly. Jessaline doesn’t think she has anything of that nature available, but is willing to improvise. She gives the boys a potion that will have Locke looking as though he is at deaths door within fifteen/twenty minutes and some bark that can be mixed into tea to help him recover – she does warn them however that although he will be recovered it will have taken its tole and he’ll be weak for a few days. She asks for three crowns, twenty solons for the lot as the boys were Chains’s family. The boys chuck in a bit extra as a bribe to tell no one about their request – interestingly the Alchemists do not touch the coins as a precaution.

Question: Do you feel the lack of magic adds or takes away from the book as a fantasy novel?

The day of the meeting Locke downs the ‘minty’ drink and feels fine for a few minutes. Suddenly it takes hold and Locke’s downfall comes rapidly. He is sick far quicker than expected – perhaps because he is so small. Locke begins throwing up everything he has eaten over the last few days. When the Capa’s son arrives with the Red Hands, Locke pretends he is desperate to go and support the Capa, but the Capa’s son tells Locke that he isn’t in a position to come. He even sympathises with him, but promises to give the Grey King something from Locke in his absence.

Locke recovers from the illness by drinking the bark and tea whilst Jean helps him dress. Jean says that he is truly worried about Locke’s health. Locke and Jean discuss killing a Bondsmage but decide that it would be a drawn out suicide. Locke begins to wonder if this is what people feel like after the Bastards con them. Jean tells him that they decided long ago that all the people they’ve conned deserved it and that now is not the time for this kind of conversation. Jean checks that he has his hatchets at his back as they leave.

Locke and Jean climb down a trellis. As they reach the 5th floor they are spotted by a man and women who are arguing, it appears the man is also trying to make a quick exit by climbing down the trellis. They think Jean’s a Peeking Tom and there is an argument between the four of them – all threatening to throw each other to the floor. Before any can attempt this though, the trellis begins to come away from the wall. The man slides down to the ground quickly, whilst Jean and Locke jump into the room with the woman. The woman begins to scream and a bull-like man appears at the door (not the same man who slid down the trellis just a moment ago). He calls his wife a filthy cheating bitch and it seems that Locke and Jean are about to take the wrath of the Bull-like man for the man who just legged it. The woman says that Jean and Locke attacked her so he dives at Jean who disarms him and shoves him against a wall – knocking him out. To their amazement, the woman suddenly starts cheering for Locke and Jean, asking them to throw this man out the window. With the trellis damaged, Locke and Jean make their way down the stairs. The Falcon glides past them – they are now under the Bondmage’s protection.

Interlude

Locke finds out that he is to spend time on a farm whilst Jean is away. The Sanzas are learning to play a card game called Richman, Beggerman, Duke – a card game designed to rob a man of all his coppers. Chains keeps winning with the highest hand and when the boys tell him that he is cheating he tells them that of course he is, their job is to find out how and to copy him. Chains informs Locke he is soon to be sent away – Calo was sent away previously to Lashain to pretend to be an initiate in the Order of Gandolo and Galdo went off to Ashmere as an initiate to the Order of Sendovani. Locke will play a farmer for a few months in a place called Villa Senziano, which he isn’t happy about because he doesn’t know anything about it. Chains says that is the point – he wants him to learn. Chains will dress as a Priest of Dama Elliza and Locke will be his initiate being sent off to work as service to the Goddess. Locke says he doesn’t know anything about Dama Elliza either, but Chains says not to worry because the man he is staying with knows he is a Bastard. The Sanza brothers are glad Locke is going because when he gets back he’ll be the worst card player in the Temple.

There is a detailed description of the five towers in this chapter: Easternmost was Dawncatcher, four hundred feet high, its natural colour a shimmery silver-red, like the reflection of a sunset sky in a still body of water. Behind it was Blackspear, slightly taller, made of an obsidian glass that shone with broken rainbows like a pool of oil. At the far side, as one might reckon by looking across the Five with Dawncatcher in the middle of one’s vision, was Westwatch, which shone with the soft violet of a tourmaline, shot through with veins of snow-white pearl. Beside it was stately Amberglass, with its elaborate flutings from which the wind would pull eerie melodies. In the middle, tallest and grandest of all, was Raven’s Reach, the palace of Duke Nicovante, which gleamed like molten silver and was crowned with the famous Sky Garden, whose lowest-hanging vine trailed in the air some six hundred feet above the ground.

At the top is a network of cables – miles and miles of Elderglass cords – threading the roofs of the towers. Both passengers and cargos were pulled along by servants. Chains and Locke are dressed as Dama Elliza. As they move away and towards their destination they pass numerous little villages and Chains tells Locke that to the people who live in them these little scatterings of wood and stone are the equivalent of cities for the people who have never seen the great city that Locke and Chains currently live. Chains tells Locke that the point of this trip is to learn what it is to be lowborn. Chains tells Locke that he used to be a Blackjacket, which are Duke’s men, similar to Yellowjackets, who come from these little Northern villages. Locke asks if this is why the Blackjackets and Yellowjackets don’t like each other (being from different places – the villages and the cities) and Chains tells Locke that it is more because soldiers are catty and enjoy clan wars. It was more than thirty years ago that Chains was a Pikeman for the Duke. Chains says at that time the Duke needed fodder for his wars and the people from his village – Villa Senziano – needed food. Chains says only three managed to come back, one of which – Vandros – is the man Locke will be living with. Vandros lives on land lent to him by the Duke for his twenty-five years of service, Locke is surprised to hear that Vandros loses the land upon death. Chains tells Locke that he was forced to leave the Duke’s service when he contracted a wasting disease. Locke asks about the third man from his village and Chains says reveals that he is the man currently teaching Jean to fight, Don Maranzalla. Chains laughs: three men became three soldiers, three soldiers became a baron, a farmer and a thief. Before Chains leaves Locke he tells him that this will be a test for Locke – being in a strange new place all on his own.

Notes: Chains used to be a Blackjacket under the employment of the Duke.

Chapter 8

We see the Capa and his huge entourage marching towards the Echo Hole. Each man carries a torch and many beat drums. Twelve men are dressed in black cloaks and black masks – one for each of the twelve Gods – carry a casket. A black shrouded priestess follows closely behind representing the thirteenth. This is how the rich are laid to rest: a slow mournful march to the Hill of Whispers, a ceremony and then a celebration afterwards that is a revel for those not yet taken for judgement by Aza Guilla but a reflection on the one they’ve lost too. Rather than going to the Hills though, they turn off towards the Echo Hole. The torchbearers are all armed and some of the nastiest men under the Capa’s control. Nazca’s body isn’t in any of the caskets, she is still on the Capa’s boat alchemically preserved against the rot of death.

Locke is trying to get the Grey King’s voice right with help from Jean whilst the Sanza brothers dye his hair grey and sort out his disguise. A substance tightens the skin on his face, giving him wrinkles, and makes him appear to be in his forties. The Falconer’s voice comes and tells Locke that Barsavi is almost at the meeting point – it is time to get into position. Locke is told to throw himself down the waterfall if things go wrong and the Sanzas confirm that their plan to run for it is in place. Locke says that the only reason the Bastards are doing this is because they are the only ones good enough to pull it off and the only ones stupid enough to get dragged into it in the first place.

The Echo Hole is a cube of grey stone mortared with Elderglass – although it never gleams at Falselight. There is only one entrance into it, but there is a waterfall that spills into it and plunges through a hole in the floor down to the catacombs below. Some of these catacombs empty into the canal of Rustwater other pasages end up in no place known to living men. Locke is standing in the centre dressed as the Grey King, the Falconer tells him to stand by. Barsarvi and his men appear and begin to funnel in through the doorway. The Capa strides forwards with his sons at either side of him. The Falconer tells Locke that nothing is as it seems. Locke gets into character and smiles as Barsarvi’s men aim and fire crossbows at him. He laughs as the bolts fall to the floor before him. Barsarvi doesn’t fear this as Locke expected he might. Locke says that he summoned the Capa to discuss Cammor. Suddenly, an old man walks from the crowd and heads straight towards Locke. Locke warns him that his touch will kill him. The old man keeps walking and eventually grabs the Grey King’s arm and knocks him off his feet. The Capa’s men take the opportunity to jump at him and grab him. The Capa laughs and asks Locke if he is curious as to what has happened. He throws back the Grey King’s hood but doesn’t recognise it is Locke. He hits him a number of times. The Capa says that one of the Grey King’s men walked into his ship this morning and told him everything about his abilities and what he can and cannot do. Locke feels he has been sewn-up. The Capa tells Locke that the old man who walked upand touched him is dying and offered him a thousand full crowns if he was brave enough to do it – The Capa promises he shall live his final two months as a Duke. The Capa spits in Locke’s face and calls him a coward for hiring a Bondsmage. The Capa then says that he was told that the Falconer left The Grey King’s service last night. Locke begins to consider revealing his identity, but decides he can’t – instead he will play the Grey King until death. The Capa’s son punches The Grey King in the face for ‘Locke Lamora’. Eight more men charge through the door with a cask as The Capa promises to get a father’s justice. The casket sloshes and Locke realises that he is to be drowned in horse urine. Locke as the Grey King begins to sob, an image the Capa promises to treasure until his dying day. The Capa and his men plunge Locke into the casket and slam the lid closed. The Capa and his men promise to celebrate their victory with a revel that will be heard by even the Gods as they throw the barrel down into the catacombs and wave goodbye to the last of Kings.

Notes: Either the Grey King intended Locke to get killed or something went wrong with the Falconer’s plan to protect him.

Questions

Question: It is interesting that Lynch shows Locke unable to perform in a brothel. Very few authors would show such ‘weakness’ to their male hero. How did you find this scene? Did it fit with the rest of the novel? Did it show – as I guess it was meant to – just how cut up Locke was on Sabetha or did it weaken his character? Maybe both?

Question: Locke’s conscience coming into play during Chapter 7 is interesting. Before now he could be excused for not comprehending the pain he causes those he robs, now though he has lost this excuse. Is Jean right, are they really Robin Hoods, robbing the rich and greedy who ‘deserve it’ or is Locke right to reconsider his position now the con is on him? 

Question: Can you think of a better plan than Locke came up with to survive both the Grey King and Capa’s wrath or would you have just run?

Question: If not answered above, how would you kill the Bondsmage and get away with it?

Question: Do you think Chains’s background fits his character?

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