The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora

AuthorScott Lynch

Pages: 512 pages
Publisher: McArthur & Co / Orion Con Trad
Release Date: Jun 15 2006
ISBN-10: 0575078022
ISBN-13: 978-0575078024

This review has been a long time coming.

Having finally laid hands on Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies , I thought the best way to prepare you all for my upcoming review would be to take a look at its prequel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, a novel that I tout (often and loudly) as the best novel I read last year! This is particularly impressive when you consider the fact that many of my favourite authors (Terry Brooks, Greg Keyes, Joe Abercrombie) released very strong novels as well in 2006.

What sets Lynch and his novel apart is the ingenuity and freshness that he brings to the table with both the plot and the characters. In a lot of ways it feels like Lynch took the rule book and threw it out the window before he sat down to pen The Lies of Locke Lamora (either that or he just didn’t know the rules in the first place). The result of this was that as I read the novel I felt in some ways as though I was just discovering reading again, eagerly flipping each page to see what sort of trouble The Gentlemen Bastards (the name of Locke’s band of thieves) could get themselves into and out of next.

Lynch uses a compelling narrative structure to tell his story that helps the pacing of the novel tremendously. Instead of littering the main storyline with infodumps containing the history of the characters, he instead breaks each chapter into two parts, one concerning the present and one regarding the past history of the characters. In this way we have a gripping main storyline which keeps us turning the pages with a tight, thrilling plot and a interesting deviation into the history and character of Locke Lamora, his companions, and how they came together to form The Gentlemen Bastards.

And it’s those characters and their history together that really makes the novel shine. The main story is set around a particularly complex heist being organized by The Gentlemen Bastards that quickly goes awry. It isn’t the heist itself (as exciting and hairbrained as that may be), that holds the novel together, however, but the characters themselves and their reactions to the events surrounding them. Locke Lamora, while intriguing, charismatic and charming, is perhaps a little too perfect; Jean Tannen (his partner in crime), however, is utterly fascinating and acts as a brilliant foil to Locke. Where one is slight, clever and is happy to use words instead of weapons, the other is large, powerful and not afraid to whip out his twin hatchets when things get dirty. Together Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen form one of the most interesting and memorable duos this side of Mork and Mindy!

Scott Lynch has a lot to live up to. With The Lies of Locke Lamora, he has set the bar high for himself and other debut fantasy authors by writing one of the strongest, most unique and downright delicious books in a long time. I don’t think we have to worry, though; if the first 100 or so pages of Red Seas Under Red Skies is any indication, Lynch has what it takes to consistently deliver the goods. With Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss at his side (see my last post), the Fantasy genre is in fine hands and I look forward to many more volumes of misadventures with The Gentlemen Bastards!