Lynch, Scott. The Lies of Locke Lamora.

NY: Bantam, 2006.

Good, edgy fantasy is hard to come by but there have been a number of series appear in the last decade or two that are of very high quality, especially those by Joe Abercrombie and Robin Hobb. Now we can add Scott Lynch to that list.

The city-state of Camorr is one of the surviving, and thriving, fragments of the old Therin Empire (about which you will gradually learn a good deal more as the story progresses) and the legitimate side of things is run by the Duke and his government. The underside of the city, though, belongs to the Capa, to whom all the leaders of the city’s gangs must answer. Locke Lamora, now in his twenties, is the boss of a very small gang, the Gentleman Bastards, and their specialty is con games, rather than burglary or picking pockets, and they’re very good at it. In alternating chapters, we learn how Locke and his friends were selected and trained by a very unusual priest, and then how they are presently applying what they learned to become filthy, but secretly, rich. The gang members include the Sanza twins, a little older than Locke, who are expert at slight of hand and at carrying out their leader’s plans. The extraordinarily loyal Jean Tannin provides both the muscle and the more intellectual side of the group. And Bug, the youngest, is a talented lookout, though he has a habit of taking extreme personal risks without much forethought.

The gang has been slowly, carefully setting up a moderately wealthy couple among the lesser nobility and are now running their game at full tilt. But they don’t know that Capa Barsavi is about to be conned himself, by an outsider called the Grey King, who wants revenge for an old crime, and that the Gentleman Bastards are about to be caught in the middle. Locke has a knack for getting himself nearly killed, though Jean usually manages to save him. But maybe not this time.

Even though this is his first novel, Lynch does an excellent job of building the characters and setting the scene — the city becomes almost a character in itself — and his action scenes are excellent. The narrative could be a little tighter, but the plot holds together well, especially when Locke is called upon to improvise. There are two additional volumes out now and I shall be hunting them down.

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Published in: on 10 March 2014 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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