“As Father Chains had once said, the best disguises were those that were poured out of the heart rather than painted on the face.”
Orphaned and alone in the city of Camorr, Locke Lamora is too clever for his own good. Realizing this quality makes Locke a magnet for trouble, his master, the Thiefmaker, sells him to Father Chains, a blind priest. Except Father Chains isn’t really blind, and he’s barely even a priest. He is growing a gang of his own – the Gentleman Bastards. Alongside his new family, Locke learns the politics of Camorr’s underbelly – including the best ways to break the Secret Peace that protects the city’s wealthiest from theft. But just when the Gentleman Bastards are about to steal a fortune from one of the wealthiest families in the city, a threat appears in the form of the Grey King. Mysteriously killing off the most powerful gang leaders, the Grey King might be after Locke too.
From the first page of this book, you’ll notice that Lynch’s world is gritty and brutal. From torture via kneading glass into the victim’s face to drowning characters’ in barrels of piss, Lynch rivals George R.R. Martin when it comes to the twisted and disturbing. It helps that most of the characters are more than a bit flawed, constantly crossing moral boundaries that will make most people cringe. For me, the lengths to which some of these characters were willing to go was what hooked me. What can I say? I have a thing for the morally grey (especially when it leans more toward morally black).
The novel is formatted in a way that soothed my short attention span immensely. I was overwhelmed by the size of this book. But when the chapters are broken up into past and present sections, then divided again into numbered parts, it’s easy to feel like you’re actually making progress. I especially loved the Interludes, most of which outline Locke’s past. Those, and the shifting of perspectives, add a certain amount of dramatic irony to the story, and that kept me on the edge of my seat while reading. They also showcased the relationships among the Gentleman Bastards, which are officially some of my favorite friendships in literature.
The atmosphere of Camorr is wonderfully dark, and the amount of detail Lynch puts into his setting makes the world come to life as you’re reading. I will admit that he goes overboard at times with the descriptive language, but it isn’t enough to detract from the story itself. So that’s a plus.
Plot twists are a constant toward the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I feel that Lynch handles most of them impressively. There are several events that left me shocked and near tears, a state I wasn’t expecting to find myself in while finishing this. Certain pieces of the plot were wrapped up a bit too neatly for my liking, but the ending was intense enough to overlook those small details. I do appreciate that the revenge story line doesn’t end on a satisfying note. Authors are too quick to romanticize vengeance, but Locke gains no peace from seeking it. I loved how realistic that was.
I had very few genuine complaints about The Lies of Locke Lamora, but I was disappointed in the lack of female leads. There are a few women who have potential to be amazing characters, but we never get to know them with any real depth, which I thought was a shame. Other than that, I’ll just say that this series could 100% benefit from a map. Every fantasy book and its mother has a map at the front, and half of them don’t even have intricate settings. Camorr (and the outside world) seem large and complex enough to warrant one, so I was a little taken aback that I had nothing to reference.
I gave The Lies of Locke Lamora a 5 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads. Even with its shortcomings, I adored this novel. It’s an instant favorite. I have a thing for gangs, thieves, and miscreants in general, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I highly recommend this, especially to fans of Game of Thrones or Six of Crows.
Have any of you read this? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!
If you’re interested in purchasing The Lies of Locke Lamora, you can do so here.