4 out of 5 stars
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch doesn’t really lack much praise on the social platforms in the digital reading community. There are tons of bloggers, Bookstagrammers, Goodreads users, and BookTubers who rave about this one. After my own personal reading experience, I’m able to say that I feel that praise is rightly deserved.
“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
“Time’s a river, Locke, and we’ve always drifted farther down it than we think.”
The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first in Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series. It is nothing short of an extraordinary swashbuckling adventure set in the island city of Camorr. Locke, the main character who lends his name to the first book in the series, was orphaned as a child and has had a hard time just trying to survive his early years. Things change for him when he comes under Chains’ care and becomes part of the brotherhood known as the Gentlemen Bastards.
The first book in the series introduces the reader to Camorr, Locke, and the Gentlemen Bastards and details their schemes to steal from the rich in true Robin Hood fashion (giving to the poor is less important, but the Gentlemen Bastards do have some good in their hearts). The Gentlemen Bastards run into some significant complications in their latest scheme and as a consequence, the lives of Locke and his ‘brothers’ are put into danger. Locke, master of deception and mummery, must try to wriggle his way out of some very precarious situations.
It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I was drawn into it I didn’t want to put it down. I will say that from the beginning you really get a sense of Locke’s personality, which, for me, is one of the best elements of the book. Locke as a boy is a precocious thief who grows to be a master of deception and manipulation. He is not your average thief. He is not only stealthy physically, but he can mold himself to fit any type of role by adjusting his appearance, adopting an accent, or even speaking another language. He thinks on the spot and his quick wits get him out of very tight situations. In some instances, I think this type of character can be seen as a sort of ‘deus ex machina’, but with Locke it is believable. He isn’t infallible, but he does learn from his mistakes which makes it interesting and fun to follow his adventures since the reader never really knows if his current scheme will work or not.
All in all, a great fantasy book! My only complaint is that I would have liked the alchemical aspect to be more of a focus of the plot. I found that idea really interesting, but I felt like more could be done with it. Perhaps it’s a bigger focus in the next books in the series? As for those, I would like to check them out eventually. It took me a while to get through this book so I’m not sure if I’m up for committing to the rest of the books in this series at the moment (I believe there are seven), but if I happen to find them in a secondhand shop in the future I will certainly pick them up.
I will put a little word of caution here: the book as a whole is very violent. Although the banter is playful and the world is fantastical, if you’re concerned about prevalent violence, you might want to be aware that there are some very graphic passages. Oh, and tons and tons of cursing, but you’d expect that in a fantasy series called The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, right?