The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is the first book of the Gentleman Bastards fantasy series. This fantasy novel has been highly praised on an array of respectable reading sites, frequently placing into a number of top recommended lists.
Needless to say, I was terribly anxious to get my hands on this one.
If you’re not familiar with how I conduct my book reviews, I typically just deliver the general gist of the book to give you an idea of whether or not this novel might be to your liking. I refrain from analyzing specific plot details that would spoil the reading experience for you.
These book reviews are meant to be a preview trailer, not a plot summary. I only include spoilers for previous novels if the novel is a sequential installment in a series.
In short, The Lies of Locke Lamora review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers for the plot of The Lies of Locke Lamora. Enjoy!
What is The Lies of Locke Lamora about?
The Lies of Locke Lamora follows a band of juvenile miscreants that identify themselves as the Gentleman Bastards. Their odyssey from budding, misfit orphans to adept, professional bandits is told in excruciating detail.
What reading genre is The Lies of Locke Lamora?
The Lies of Locke Lamora is considered to be a part of the fantasy reading genre.
Who is Locke Lamora?
Locke Lamora, the primary protagonist of the story, is the ring leader of this gang of criminals. He acts every bit the role that such a title entails. The crew’s members are loyal to him without question and look to him in times of thick and thin.
Is Locke Lamora the only exciting facet of this criminal crew?
Locke is certainly not the only point of intrigue.
Each individual character has an alluring origin story that provide insight into why these criminals do what they do.
I applaud the author for including these origin stories. I felt as though they allowed me to establish a better relation with every single character.
What separates The Lies of Locke Lamora from other fantasy novels?
The concept of shadowing a band of thieves was utterly captivating to me. I worshipped the originality of the story line. Up until that point, I had never really encountered anything quite like being thrust into the shoes of a con man.
How are the fantasy elements in The Lies of Locke Lamora?
There is a supernatural component involved to cater to the fantasy aficionados out there.
What I enjoyed most about the supernatural component was that it felt perfectly organic. Whenever it was incorporated into the plot, it never felt forced. It did not feel as if magic was used as a cop out for the author.
What makes this disciplined use of magic even more incredible is that The Lies of Locke Lamora was a debut novel for Scott Lynch.
I was shocked when I heard this fun fact for the first time. If no one had mentioned that little tidbit to me, I would have presumed he was an established writer given the professional nature of his work.
The metaphysical element adds a fresh set of obstacles to the schemes of the crew. It pressures them to up their creative ingenuity to avoid complete catastrophe.
How are the protagonists of The Lies of Locke Lamora different from other fantasy protagonists?
I commended the fact that the so called “protagonists” of the story are not really protagonists at all.
In fact, the protagonists are bona fide villains to the core. They rob from families without cause and hoard the riches for themselves for amusement.
Yet, even with this knowledge, I found myself still cheering on their larceny every step of the way. There is a fluctuating coalescence of virtue and vice that distinguish these characters. This made all the difference in adding to the suspense of turning points in the novel.
A compromise of virtue to this extent is something I have never seen in fantasy protagonists. It is refreshing in a way. It is rather monotonous to listen to perfect storybook fantasy heroes that have steadfast virtues.
I find it far more enthralling when the line between good guys and bad guys is blurred. In real life, everyone has things they have done that they are not proud of. Nobody is impeccably righteous.
Having protagonists that have exposed flaws and flexible virtues models real life. It makes the characters far more engaging when the writer refuses to put the protagonist up on a pedestal.
In my mind, this is what distinguished these characters from other fantasy protagonists.
How is the storyline of The Lies of Locke Lamora?
There are several shocking points in the novel that had me in genuine denial. I legitimately questioned, “Did the author really do that!?” Lynch executed a few gutsy plot twists that heightened my reading experience tremendously.
The action-packed duels, unanticipated deaths and heart-wrenching betrayals kept me turning the page.
How is the dialogue in The Lies of Locke Lamora?
The dialogue in The Lies of Locke Lamora was beautifully crafted.
The blend of heartfelt interactions and sarcastic banter was perfectly done. This precise mix provided depth to the characters while still keeping true the humorous backbone of the story.
The playfulness of the characters lightened the mood when times were tough.
It also emphasized the camaraderie of the gang, which is one of the primary reasons I was drawn to the gang in the first place. The jokes and ribbing were actually pretty funny in my opinion. I actually caught myself laughing out loud a couple of times.
This is not to say that the dialogue was a laughingstock. The sincere conversations that took place between the characters really allowed me to sink my teeth into who the members of this group are.
The sentimental dialogue opened up these characters to the reader.
It granted the reader access to the deeply hidden emotions of these characters. This dialogue in particular revealed that these characters are not as invincible as they perceive themselves to be. They are mortal after all.
Making the characters vulnerable and infusing sarcasm to lighten the mood did wonders for the overall atmosphere for The Lies of Locke Lamora. In summary, the dialogue is top notch from start to finish.
How long does it take to read The Lies of Locke Lamora?
The Lies of Locke Lamora is slightly longer than your standard fantasy novel.
There are 196,000 words and 736 pages total in The Lies of Locke Lamora.
This novel takes the average reader a little more than 12 hours to read through in its entirety. Overall, this time investment is very manageable and should not make or break your decision of whether to purchase this book.
What are the predominant themes in The Lies of Locke Lamora?
One of the major themes in The Lies of Locke Lamora is hubris.
Allow me to predict your next question. What is hubris? Hubris is excessive pride in oneself resulting in the downfall of said of character.
The crew is no stranger to pride by any means. With every success this gang adds to the tally, their pride swells to the point of bursting. These successful heists are a blessing and a curse.
It is a blessing in that they are able to add to their pile of riches. It is a curse in that it prompts them to take on more dangerous, high-profile heists that lie beyond their pay grade.
Locke Lamora is the poster boy of their egotism, egging the rest of the crew on to take more risks. Locke loves to walk the line of insanity, especially when it comes to strategizing the intricate plans behind the crew’s robberies.
In this novel, the crew meets a worthy opponent that is able to match their resources and wit. This contest brings out the best of both factions, resulting in an epic battle of wills that is an absolute pleasure for the reader to enjoy.
Did these characters bite off more than they can chew with this insane mission? Read The Lies of Locke Lamora to discover for yourself.
Another major theme in The Lies of Locke Lamora is the negative impact of greed.
Hubris and greed are never a good combination in literature. Not only do these characters have a distorted perception of their capabilities, they also have an endless craving for more and more riches.
This lust for stolen treasure goes to their heads. They frequently lay their lives on the line to rob possessions they do not even need. It is never enough for this crew. One successful heist simply means they have an opportunity to be more daring, more bold the next time around.
By far, the worst part about the greed of these characters is their uncontrollable lust for stealing. They love to steal and feel no qualms about what they do. Since they view their larceny as sport instead of crime, there is nothing holding them back from looking to nourish their hunger for more.
The good thing about this greed is that it makes a fantastic story for us, the readers. Secretly, we want more conflict. We want to see the characters push the edge of what they are capable of. Luckily for us, our favorite gang of thugs did not disappoint.
What sort of emotions did The Lies of Locke Lamora invoke while you were reading?
I have found that in my experience whenever there is phenomenal characterization, there is a direct correlation with how deep my emotional connection is to the novel.
In short, the more that I can empathize with the characters, the more of an emotional rollercoaster the whole novel is.
The Lies of Locke Lamora was masterful in the realm of characterization. The crew cultivated a close relationship with me, the reader, from beginning to end.
Thus, I shared their ups and downs along the way. And there were plenty of these volatile emotional peaks throughout the narrative.
Every successful heist warranted feelings of elation and relief from me.
Having my favorite characters escape the danger of their crimes sent joy through my heart in a peculiar way. It is odd to cheer for the success of larceny, yet there is something in the way that Lynch describes his characters that makes them charming and irresistible.
You do not want them to get caught. As the reader, you only want them to succeed in their acts of robbery.
Their high stakes heists also sent waves of adrenaline through me.
There are several moments when the characters take bold risks where you have no clue as a reader whether it will pay off or not. This anxiousness kept my heart pumping during the most action packed sections of the novel.
I cannot remember a time where I was so emotionally invested into a story. This speaks volumes about the miraculous writing of Scott Lynch in The Lies of Locke Lamora more than anything else.
Would you recommend The Lies of Locke Lamora to children?
No, I would not.
As awe-inspiring as The Lies of Locke Lamora is, Scott Lynch definitely did not aim this novel toward the youth audience. The dialogue between characters is crude at best. There is repetitive cussing and swearing that is extremely graphic in nature.
If you are looking to recommend a fantasy novel to your kids, I would stay away from The Lies of Locke Lamora. There are certainly more suitable options in the fantasy genre.
Is there a sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora?
Yes! The Lies of Locke Lamora is only Book 1 of the Gentleman Bastard series!
This series is composed of multiple volumes of books. At the time this blog has been posted, This series has only released three volumes with a fourth in the works.
This series continues with Red Seas Under Red Skies (Book 2) by Scott Lynch. So if you were looking for more adventures from this crew, check out Red Seas Under Red Skies to read on.
The Lies of Locke Lamora Review Recap
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a must read.
The unequivocal originality of the plot and the calculated volatility of the story line separates this novel from the rest. The crew is characterized marvelously. I had a challenging time ripping myself away from these remarkable characters whenever I had to go back to reality.
I can say with certainty this is one of my top five reads of all time.
To give The Lies of Locke Lamora a try, check out Amazon to get a text or audible version of this book.
Curious about whether or not The Lies of Locke Lamora tops the list of my favorite fantasy books? See for yourself by clicking over to the rankings of My Top Fantasy Books.
“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
“You can’t help being young, but it’s past time that you stopped being stupid.”
“Throwing blondes at Locke Lamora was not unlike throwing lettuce at sharks.”
“You simply collapsed, sir. In layman’s terms, your body revoked its permission for you to continue heaping abuse upon it.”
The Lies of Locke Lamora Review Rating: 10/10!
Back of the Book Blurb
An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.