The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
|Book Name:||The Lies of Locke Lamora|
|Publisher(s):||Spectra (US) Gollancz (UK)|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Fantasy / Adventure|
|Release Date:||June 26, 2007 (US) February 1, 2007 (UK)|
Now let’s be honest, as a fantasy author having the leading quote on your novel from none other than George R.R. Martin is a good indication that you’ve done something right and that’s certainly what Scott Lynch has done.
The Lies of Locke Lamora follows a band of thieves, The Gentleman Bastards, on their latest scheme to deceive a wealthy couple out of half their fortune. But like so much in this novel even the plot is just the surface of a much more complex underbelly. Whilst the plot does build this isn’t to say it begins slowly, the narrative progresses from well paced to racing and grips hold of you so you can’t help but keep up. The novel is bound together by so many twists and turns, a lot of which I didn’t see coming, but I found myself not wanting to guess as it was so exciting and gripping when they did happen.
I must admit that I did find it difficult reading at first, I found I couldn’t focus or take anything in when I was reading in a public place as there are a lot of long winded names and places and so much to learn in this new country you find yourself in. However, I would not consider this a criticism simply a note that it is a not a laid back/easy read. Without giving too much away it was when the double bluff was revealed where I personally became gripped and realised how interesting this book really was. Initially I expected to watch the progress of their plans, with a few mishaps but overall success. But this is far from the truth. Watching plans unravel for the gang was heartbreaking but it was also fascinating to see how they respond to it.
Of course a great plot is useless without characters a reader wants to follow. The central relationship is between the leader of the gang, Locke, and his best friend Jean. Theirs is a relationship stronger than Jon Snow and Sam Tarley and equally on a par with Frodo and Sam. It’s this great friendship which is the heart of the story and inspired the most emotional responses from me whilst reading.
Locke and Jean are not what you’d expect. Neither is described as the handsome swash buckling characters you’d imagine. They are more like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It isn’t difficult to see that the pair are a reimagining of Robin Hood and Little John but Lynch’ s character are very much his own. Locke is a loveable rogue, a great anti-hero who you cannot help but love even if he is far from a typical hero. Jean is the most unexpected character given his appearance and family background none of which prepare you for his reputation; a great reputation which delivers all it promises.
Unfortunately there are no prominent female characters, but the female side characters are so equal to men that at times you don’t even realise it. There are business women, warrior women, noble women, there are even women who hold some of the most prominent positions in society. There is no romance in the novel, well no current romance which brings me to one of the most important female characters – Sabetha. However and rather interestingly I cannot call Sabetha a prominent female character as she never actually makes an appearance. Sabetha is the only female member of The Gentleman Bastards and the love of Locke’ s life. However, what little information is given on Sabetha clearly indicates she is much more than a simple love interest but a very complex character that you long to meet.
Credit must be given to Lynch for his originality, instead of the traditional medieval setting he has opted for a setting akin to renaissance Venice. Not only that the laws, society and especially alchemical elements are original and creative. The structure and narrative voice used are original though I did have some reservations regarding it. A frequent piece of advice for writers is to ‘show not tell’ and there is a considerable amount of ‘telling’ and ‘information dumping’. However, it is told in an interesting way with an entertaining narrative voice that I found myself not minding. Usually the information given can be portrayed through character’s interactions with the world but the world is so different and complex that I didn’t mind the bit of added assistance.
Another rule you are warned against is extensive or frequent flashbacks. In The Lies of Locke Lamora each chapter ends with a flashback and they always assist/lead to/set up something that will happen in the next chapter. Once again the narrative is entertaining enough that you don’t mind and I also enjoyed learning the character’s back stories. It is a better example of Lynch showing rather than telling but I would warn against aspiring writers mimicking this style as it is difficult to do well.
I can happily say that I came to love this book. Even if it is difficult at first I would advise all readers to preserve, it is well worth it. As debut Lynch has done incredibly well, he’s created a world I wish to return to, more adventures I wish to be a part of & most importantly characters I wish to meet again. Don’t expect stories of good men, doing acts of chivalry rather expect complex and fascinating characters going on great adventures.