This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

31 March, 2011

REVIEW: THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA

Cover Art: Steve Stone
Cover Design: Jamie S. Warren Youll

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA
BOOK I OF THE GENTLEMEN BASTARD SEQUENCE
BY
SCOTT LYNCH

ISBN: 978-0-553-58894-1
Pages: 719
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

4 comments:

  1. I'm not a fan of Scott Lynch myself - and I've not read past the second novel. I'm hoping my library here in Bangalore will get them all at some point so I can satisfy my curiosity on a slow rainy day.

    [I'm Danae_alThor over on Twitter, stalking your conversations with other people! :)]

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  2. @coolingpearls

    You are actually current with Lynch. Book three has a November 2011 release date as far as I know.

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  3. I didn't read this book for the action. I read it because I thought it was fantastically weird and (often times) hilarious. The intermissions didn't bug me in the least, but I can see how they'd bother a lot of people. I found them quite interesting and important for plot/character development. I didn't think it was slow paced, either. Though if I had been reading it for action, I might have.

    I also read another book that I REALLY loved (that most people hate). It had a ton of "intermissions" between each chapter and most readers were annoyed with that and said that it slowed down the pace of the book so much that the book wasn't tolerable. I didn't find myself bothered by it in the least. I actually LOVED the intermissions because it helped develop the world and setting and helped give the book a more well-rounded feel. I think I must be weird, though, because stuff like that tickles my brain where it really ticks off most people.

    I will say that I was rather disappointed with Red Seas under Red Skies, as it was more of the same as The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I did think that one was REALLY slow building, and much of it takes place on boats and I just don't care that much about boats, I guess. I'm going to read the next one when it comes out, but if it's more of the same (again) I think I'll ditch the series. Red Seas under Red Skies kind of turned me off to the whole thing. The first book was great (to me), but I think the concept is getting kind of tired.

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  4. @Sarah

    I usually don't mind interludes. But here they were distracting, as they mostly didn't have anything to do with the main story at that point.
    I didn't think they added much to character development, something I thought was a weak point in this book.

    I didn't read this book for action, so it wasn't that which made me think it slow paced. And I still stand by my assessment that this is the slowest fantasy book I've read.

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