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The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch Just the other day, I discovered an astonishing fact:
Scott Lynch keeps a Live Journal.

This is just not possible.

Scott Lynch is not a mere mortal like you and I. He should not keep a blog. He should not be seen at conventions. He should not have relationships with other writers. He should not live anywhere mundane and earthly like Winsconsin.

Scott Lynch is not a man, he's a legend. His books are not written by mortal hands. They are written with unicorn hair quils, inked with dragons blood, suffused with the breath of elves, carried to us by the hands of angels, who float on sunbeams drifting across the universe to us from far distant galaxies.

Thats why they take so bloody long to arrive.

The plot:
The city of Camorr is a fantasy city reminiscent of a mediaeval venice. Composed of several islands and networked with canals; from the filthy squalor of the slums to the shining spires of elderglass. Street thieves, pickpockets, gangs, merchants, priests, alchemists and nobles all packed into one interesting city. Locke Lamora and his group of gentlemen bastards began as thieves, but were taught to be something better and brighter. Now they spend their time conning noblemen out of their riches, and conning Capa Barsavi into thinking they're still just honest street thieves. Locke and gang are in the middle of their biggest, most elaborate con job yet, when the elusive Grey King decides to use them in his own nefarious games.

Locke is one of the best anti-heroes I've read. He has a wit to rival that of Tyrion Lannister. And his ability to plan so intricately and meticulously, with every contingency prepared for, and with twists upon twists, is just awe-inspiringly beautiful. The lure of the character is that even the omniscient reader doesn't know what Locke ultimately has planned until it all unfolds, and he does it with such a hillarious sarcastic wit too. But don't worry, Locke is saved from the terrible fate of becoming a Gary Stu, by being remarkably not at all tall or handsome or strong. And by the fact then when he does get foiled in his plans, things have a tendency to go horribly messily wrong.

The story is told in a really interesting manner, as an alternating series of flashback episodes (Locke's childhood learning his trade as a con-artist) and 'present day' episodes (The gentlemen bastards current con job). At first I was inclined to be a bit frustrated by this, as each part ended just as it was getting really interesting and flicked to the alternate time. But the brilliance of this soon becomes clear because each flashback links directly to the next 'current day' episode, for example, showing how locke learnt a particular trick of the trade that will shortly be useful in the present con-job.

The Lies of Locke Lamora also contains one of my absolute favourite fantasy tropes; that of the ancient but long-lost, highly advanced civilisation which has left behind some mark upon the world, but on which very little is known. In the world of Gentlemen Bastards there are structures made of elderglass, a magical, beautiful and super-strong glass; including impossible tall towers. The citizens happily make use of elderglass, and some claim to understand the properties, but yet no one knows how it is made and who made it. Did I mention I love this device in fantasy novels? As if Locke's fantastic personality were not already enough to keep me reading, the mystery of the elderglass and it's alien origins is sure to keep me begging for sequels.

In summary: I loved, loved, loved this novel.
It was just all shades of fantastic. Highly recommended to any fantasy lover.

This particular cover had on it a shining recommendation from George R.R. Martin himself, so that should tell you particularly how good it is. Because everyone knows that GRRM's books come from another Galaxy too. If you're a fan of Tyrion Lannister - you're probably going to like Locke Lamora too!