Reading Challenge Book One: The Lies of Locke Lamora
I’m going to be sharing a short review of each book I complete in my reading challenge. Let’s kick off with the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora.
They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.
Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.
Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it’s a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city.
But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa’s power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming.
A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora …
Why I chose this book
I wanted to read some popular fantasy books this year so I asked friends for recommendations and scoured a few websites. I read the blurbs and picked those which took my fancy. This one I found on bestfantasybooks.com, on one of their lists of top books.
I give this 4 out of 5 stars.
The book is high fantasy, aimed at adults, and set in an urban environment. The plot focuses on a group of con artists and their intrigues, remaining mainly within the confines of one city. The city and set up seems to be based around ancient Italy.
The content is adult with respect to language and violence, although suitable for the setting.
I really enjoyed the heist-style set up in this novel. It reminded me of the BBC drama series Hustle: a group of scammers aiming to separate the seriously wealthy from their cash. Whilst you couldn’t exactly admire the main characters, the loyalty and friendship of the group showed off their best qualities.
The worldbuilding is great. The detail of the society and the city is rich and engrossing. It was very easy to picture.
The plot progression was good, and built over the course of the novel. It followed the concept of making the worst possible thing happen to the characters, and watching them lurch from one crisis to another. It was well-structured and had a satisfactory climax and ending.
I love the way all the foreshadowing was built in so neatly. At every turn, you would see the relevance of early details that came back later in the book.
Some of the later flashbacks/interludes weren’t great. I enjoyed the early ones which described the childhood of the gang and how they got together. But some of those in the latter part of the book were just exposition and didn’t seem to relate to the plot. Plus, at least one interrupted the plot at an exciting point for no particular purpose.
Sabetha – the one female member of the gang who just wasn’t around. Neither her beginnings nor her absence were explained. Yet it was implied that Locke was in love with her. With the lack of information here, I felt we were missing a key chunk of his life. My assumption is that it will come in a future book, but I think it would have added some depth to at least have more background on this relationship.
Lack of magic – not a complaint with the book, more a personal complaint. The magic content was low, and is generally one of my favourite bits of fantasy books. In fact, it says a lot for the book that I’m giving it four stars with hardly any magic in there!
Overall, a great read, and one I would recommend. I’m not immediately feeling the urge to grab the sequels, but it’s one I might come back to at a later date.