Series: The Gentleman Bastards #1
Written by: Scott Lynch
Published: February 16, 2016 by Delacorte (Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.
Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn't invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.
Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city's underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive..
I had heard nothing but good things about this book. So many of my blogger friends love this book and I had high hopes going into it. But it may have fallen a little short because of those expectations. I mean I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. And usually I am overflowing with thoughts instantly after finishing a book but with The Lies of Locke Lamora I had to take the time to sit with my feelings because I really wasn't sure what I thought.
I will say, I loved the characters here. I am always a sucker for books about thieves and rogues, so those within The Lies of Locke Lamora were right up my alley. This is book about a gang of thieves that are part of this criminal underworld. First we have their leader, Locke. What I liked about Locke is that he's not your usually hero. He's not a brilliant fighter, he's more of a thinker who finds himself in situations he has to fight his way out of. I loved seeing Locke try to plan and prepare only for things to go horribly wrong. It was refreshing and it made me root for him. I also really liked Jean, his best friend and partner. Jean is the fighter of the group but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at him. He's heavy-set with glasses, both tradition signs of a thinker but Jean and his hatchets were the muscle of the group. They were a great team and their bromance was fantastic. There were also tons of great other character like their mentor and the other members of the group. And then there was the villains. And there were a lot of them. It was definitely an us against the world kind of things between the antagonists and protagonists and I liked that. Part of what made this book good was the characters and the way that the author played with traditional character tropes in fantasy.
But as much as I liked the characters, the character development didn't always work for me. I'm usually more of a plot-driven reader but I do like when characters come out of the book having learned something about themselves. And I think Locke and Jean did kind of get there but it wasn't as big a part as I would have liked. Especially considering that I enjoyed the characters. I think that was because a lot of the character development occurred through flashbacks where we saw Locke and Jean as kids and how they became thieves. And while I liked learning about their history it was more of just their way of saying that this is how Locke is. And because this was focused it did add a bit too much exposition for me and may have taken away from the plot development.
That plot too was slow and sometimes muddled for me. This is a long book, although 750 pages is honestly nothing when it comes to Adult Fantasy, but it felt long. It was a bit of a slog for me. Because it was long and the first book in a new series it had to take it's time explaining and elaborating on the cons. We also had to get to know the world and the characters. I already mentioned the flashbacks and how they pulled me out of the plot but I think it was more than that. I went into this book expecting a self-contained heist story and that's not what it was. Now don't get me wrong, those moments where he did have to use quick thinking and crazy shenanigans to get out of a jam were the best parts but they were kind of few and far between. Sure, there were interesting cons and moments of adventure where the characters had to get their way out of whatever bind they were in but there was no planned big finish. It was very much just an set up book and those are usually not my favorites. Although the general plot development was interesting and played with the tropes in a creative way, it didn't totally work for me.
But I did absolutely love the world of this book. It was definitely an immersive world. Camorr is the kind of fantasy world that I love. It expertly combines mystery, magic, and intrigue. There is even a little but of religion that is factored into the world. Sometimes fantasies focus too much on one aspect and neglect the other. But here they are perfectly complimentary. I think that fact that there was so much to the world added a lot to the feel of it being a set up book but thankfully, the world was so engaging. Scott Lynch does a great way of setting the scene. From the dark streets and docks, to the secret hideouts of the criminal underworld, to the palaces and homes of the elite. It had a typical Medieval/Rennaisance quality that a lot of fantasy has but it was fantastic. I loved exploring the world and it helped to make this book compelling and interesting.
On the whole, this was a good read. It may have been a little bit of poor timing as I read it before and after two very anticipated releases. I liked it but not as much as I had hoped. I think it may have just suffered from a but of First Book Syndrome but I am really interested to see where things go in future books. I know there are a ton more books in the series so I may try to keep going. It had a great world and complex character that I can get behind succeeding.
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are a fan of fantasies and like books about thieves and rogues then definitely check this out. I would maybe not recommend this book to anyone who is more of a plot-driven reader and instead say you should read it if you like character-driven stories.
Have you read The Lies of Locke Lamora? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!