Cover Art: Steve Stone
Cover Design: Jamie S. Warren Youll
THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA
BOOK I OF THE GENTLEMEN BASTARD SEQUENCE
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Publishing Date: 1 June 2006
On the cover:
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 Gentlemen 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...
I don't know if this is the slowest fantasy book ever written, but it is definitely the slowest one I have ever read.
The prologue is a great introduction to the the story, but it takes about 300 pages before it gets going. Not only is the main story slow, but Lynch has put interludes between each chapter, and this slows down the pace even further. It doesn't help that these interludes have next to nothing to do with the main story, and seldom add any new information.
When the main story picks up pace, the interludes continue to interrupt and slow down the flow. The interludes with back story should, in my opinion, have been condensed into a part 1. And the rest of the interludes contain things that are better left for an appendix.
I've already mentioned the slow pace of the first half of the book. Normally I don't have a problem with an author using time to establish settings and characters, but that is not really what is going on here. We do get a good idea of how the city is by the end of the book, but we never get close to the main character. Locke Lamora is an enigma at the start of the book, and although we get a good insight into how he ticks as the book progresses we never see what makes him tick. This made it pretty hard for me to have any sympathy for him, or even care much about him.
However, if you manage to get through the first 300-400 pages of the book the action kicks in. And when it does it never really lets up - with the exception of the interludes I mentioned. There is a wonderfully executed build up to the climax of this novel, and it comes to a very satisfying conclusion.
Lynch's writing is also very good, and is what kept me reading through the novels first half. There is absolutely no doubt that he is a very good writer who has tons of potential. And although the beginning is slow, the latter part of this book made me excited to read more of the story of Lamora. I just hope we get to know him better in the next installment Red Seas Under Red Skies.
This was a hard review to write, not least because I still have trouble coming to a conclusion that unifies the two halves of this book. The first part is pretty boring, and very slow. The second part is pretty fast paced and interesting. All in all it is a good book, but it is severely let down by its monstrously slow beginning, and that is what keeps it from being a great novel.
If you can handle the slow beginning, I would however advise you to get the book. There is much to love here. I know I will re-read it when the last book comes, but I think I will read the interludes with back story after the prologue as a part one and save the rest of the interludes until I have finished the main story and see if that helps with the pacing issues.
LINKS: Scott Lynch Bantam Spectra