Going from Deadhouse Gates to The Lies of Locke Lamora was like going from a harsh, arctic country to a balmy beach on the Mediterranean. The writing of the one book is so harsh, and the writing of Scott Lynch’s début is so lovely, full of colorful descriptions of its world. I loved this book, probably more than I should have. In fact, I haven’t enjoyed a fantasy book this much since Name of the Wind, even though fantasy as an element is used very sparingly.
Locke Lamora is an orphan in the city of Camorr, this world’s equivalent of Renaissance Venice, with pseudo-Italian names, canals, crime bosses and nobility. As a boy he is sold off to the Temple of Perelando when he turned out to be just a touch too clever to be a normal young thief. At the temple, he is trained to join the Gentlemen Bastards, a group of extremely skilled scam artists, who rob the nobility, mostly just because they can. The story switches between the main story of the Gentlemen Bastards pulling off their greatest scam ever and interludes that show the childhood of the bastards, their training, their backstory. Throughout the backstory it mentions Sabetha, the only female member. She plays no part in the book, but I really hope she’ll be there eventually in sequels, because I was intrigued.
My mental association immediately went to a crazy mix of Ocean’s Eleven, The Godfather and Assassin’s Creed. Everytime an elderglass tower was described, I thought ‘Ezio Auditore would climb those towers!’. Needless to say, I love Assassin’s Creed’s setting very much, and I loved it here in the book as well. It just worked for me. There are no Borgias as enemy, no Templars, but Capa Raza makes for an interesting nemesis.
As I mentioned, fantasy is only used in the form of two elements: the Camorri citizens work the art of alchemy, creating such wondrous fruit as the orange that grows filled with brandy, light globes and similar. There’s multiple mentions of a race called Eldren that left wondrous buildings of elderglass behind a thousand years ago. And there are the bondmages of Karthain, powerful mages that go out of their way to punish any transgressions against them. I have a feeling they will be important in the next book.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is full of twists and turns, foul language and foul events (like being drowned alive in horse piss), and people die. But it also made me laugh and be moved by Locke, especially at the end of the book. I am looking forward to the next book, which promises more of the same plus PIRATES. This should be good.