The Camorr Travelogue… And This Other Guy

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The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying… (Goodreads)

I am thinking.

I am thinking on how to approach Locke Lamora because touching it would be akin to touching a thin, slide of glass. If its plot were tangible, I would have broken it into tiny pieces with my tiny pinkies.

I finger my invisible moustache and agree that your crafted world could determine your novel. I see nothing wrong with that. The City of Camorr is vivid and colorful, brimming with crime and dark politics. The novel is much more about the city than Locke himself, who just happens to get tied into its ceaseless energy and complicated street mobs. There is nothing wrong with that.

The problem with Lynch’s heavy world-building is that it could go on elaborating unnecessarily.  A narcissist gawking over his features at the mirror– that’s what The Lies of Locke Lamora was exactly doing. From the cuts of this person’s clothing to the grotesque way light falls on this object to the endless amount of Camorr infrastructure to the trivial and particular way this person opens his mouth, the book never runs out of things to say about inanimate objects and Camorr, the hottest vacation spot in the world. No one wants to read a travelogue when they’re expecting a story and this book was pro-world if anything; you could feel that the plot was the least in Scott Lynch’s mind.

Locke’s origin story was my favorite parts of the novel, and I wished it stayed there because baby Locke is more interesting (and pro-active) than adult Locke. Despite enjoying it, I could not see its relevance to the plot.

I like Locke Lamora, truly a mouthful he is. You could never guess what he is up to, and if you get through the chunks of inanimate objects (and people) he encounters, then you will find yourself amazed to what he has got in his sleeves. I like a character that could use his brains. I cannot count how many times he made me smile and think, “That’s a good one, Locke. Yey, bro” whenever he outsmarts someone. You feel the guy and you feel his triumphs and pain with him because he isn’t exactly a flawless hero. He isn’t one, really. He just wants to steal a few grabs from rich people and eat glimmering food with his besties. Now, imagine someone takes all your books and kills your friends so he could have them. That’s how it feels. The drawback with this character is that you have to make everyone else stupid, some very so, and whenever I remember these stupid characters, I could not help but wince and wonder if I should like the book or not.

I look at my ceiling and close my eyes, thinking about this one particular itch I have– why keep mentioning a character that doesn’t appear in the novel? Why?

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars

This novel is confusing. I think Scott Lynch mixed up with his priorities, whether he wanted to be pro-Locke or pro-Camorr, and everything ended up half-cooked with some bits still raw.

Highlights:

Orphans AND con-artists

Locke Lamora

Detailed world-building

Street politics

Jaws

Alchemical lights. This book loves alchemical lights

This scene

real

PS: Sorry, I’m reading The Last Policeman and I’m catching Detective Palace’s thinking process. Be thankful I didn’t put any Holy Molies here.

P.P.S.: Scott Lynch is a huge nerd, apparently. I just followed him on Twitter and I’m beginning to like the guy.


About the Author

Scott Lynch

 

Scott Lynch was born in 1978 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and current lives in Wisconsin. In addition to being a freelance writer for various role playing game companies he has done all the usual jobs writers put in their bios: dishwasher, waiter, web designer, marketing writer, office manager and short-order cook. His first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, was an international success and he now writes full-time. Goodreads | Blog

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