Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch Book Review: Gods (or luck) > than Brains

Lies of Locke Lamora is a con artist novel set in a rich an exciting fantasy world. WOW, it sounds like I ripped that line directly from the back of the book. It’s an apt description, we follow Locke Lamora a con artist, also a priest, who robs the rich nobility for fun. Locke was a boy genius who has turned into an ultra-successful conman in the city of Camorr. Lies of Locke Lamora is a good book, but it left me wanting more, and not in a good way. I expected more out of the character Locke Lamora.  He seemed to stumble through the last act of the book. I’m in the vast minority for not loving this book. I just liked it, just didn’t love it.
The book starts off a little slowly. It then splits into two different time frames. We have a present day storyline, and also see how Locke grew up, and became a successful con-man. For the first part of the book, I wanted to stay with the young Locke storyline. It was the more interesting of the two. I wanted to find out more about the brilliant schemes the young Locke hatched. Lynch writes Locke to be a con-man Mozart. A natural and gifted liar, at an extremely young age, who can hatch schemes to steal anyone blind. The present day storyline did not interest me much. The scheme they were hatching against a noble was not very interesting. It didn’t have any thrilling elements or cool twists, but then all of sudden Lynch sprang a turn I wasn’t expecting in the first scheme. After this the present day storyline became more entertaining and intriguing.
The middle part of the book had me hooked. I wanted to find out how Locke and his friends wiggled out of their predicament. I liked the tough situation Lynch put the characters in.  The flashbacks or “interludes” added to how the characters where able to escape from the present day situations. I also like the setting and world Lynch created. It’s has renaissance feel to it, but with magic and interesting alchemical concoctions. The religion is another interesting aspect. Our main characters our priests in the church of the benefactor, or the god of thieves. It is a secret God, the thirteenth in the pantheon. The characters deeply believe in their religion, taking time to practice rituals and pray to it on many occasions. This seems to pay off, because our characters had very little to do with their actual survival.
Maybe I was expecting too much. Most of the reviews I have read compare the book to a fantasy Ocean’s Eleven. I think this is a horrible comparison. SPOILER, but I think you need to read on if you have read the other reviews.  Locke does not pull of a big heist to end the book. It just isn’t there. It is a thrilling conclusion to the book, but Locke has a little to actually do with the outcome. He doesn’t plan for anything. He actually goes against his strengths and plays to his weaknesses.  Without some luck, or the help of his God, he shouldn’t survive his trials at the end. From what I had read about the book, and from the interludes, I was expecting Locke to come up with a brilliant scheme to get him and his friends out of their predicament. Instead he just keeps getting beat at his own game.  I like my hero’s to have challengers, but at some point they have to be the hero. Maybe this is Lynch’s writing style, and I enjoyed other aspects just not this part.
Lynch does a great job with the action sequences to end the book. They are clear and well-paced. I didn’t want to put the book down at the end to see what happened. Just because it wasn’t the ending I wanted, didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the payoff. Lynch has a brutal and gritty style. We get some excellent torture sequences, which made me want to gag while reading. They are great and extremely descriptive. If you have a weak stomach I would stay away from these parts of the book. There aren’t very abundant, but they stick with you.
I enjoyed Lynch’s style and the world he created for the Locke to live in. You can tell he put a ton of time in creating his world. There is a mountain of history and backstory that we just scratch the service of in his first novel.  I just didn’t care for Locke at the end of the novel. If I can’t get behind a hero or main character there isn’t much need for me to continue the series. Others have greatly enjoyed this novel and the others in the series. If Lynch starts another book series I would consider picking it up.  Maybe I’ll give the gentlemen bastards another chance in a few years, but for now I liked the book, but not enough to continue 

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