Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch


Scott Lynch’s debut novel opens with the Thiefmaker trying to sell an orphan boy to an Eyeless Priest. The Priest is soon revealed to be as crooked a criminal as any you might imagine, and since the prologue itself is called The Boy Who Stole Too Much, our orphan, Locke Lamora, seems like he will fit right in with this crowd.

Already astonishingly bright and brave as an adolescent, Locke Lamora becomes an admirable thief as an adult. His small gang call themselves The Gentleman Bastards, and after years of training they can disguise themselves and pass in any part of society.
Ignore the Secret Peace that has protected the ruling classes for decades, they stage a series of complex schemes that leave their upper-class targets with much less wealth and too much embarrassment to even report the swindles to the authority. Even as Lamora and his gang are deceiving the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, a new threat is assassinating that ruler’s most trusted men and Locke Lamora will most certainly be caught in the middle.

This fantasy story takes place in a canal-filled otherworld called Camorr, where huge towers and crystal formations were created by the Eldren ancients and alchemical lamps provide light and heat. Commerce is ruled by agriculture, trade and simple manufacturing. Authority is enforced by crossbows, swords and poisons. Survival is dependant on a combination of training, social class, luck and skill. With a variation on the classic tale of Robin Hood, Locke Lamora and his Gentleman Bastards are at their finest when they are stealing from the rich and keeping the money for themselves.

Critics have compared this novel to the films The Pirates of the Caribbean, Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible. This is a story full of astonishing capers, improbable adventures, and swashbuckling, complete with trickery, daggers, disguises, confidence schemes, swindles, and thievery. In any other story, Locke Lamora would be the “bad guy” but instead Scott Lynch creates a hero among common criminals, who will fight all obstacles to his mercenary way of life. With snappy dialogue, suspenseful scenes, and impeccable timing, the only fault of The Lies of Locke Lamora is that after 499 pages the story still ends much too soon.


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