The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards #1)

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Author: Scott Lynch
Series:  Gentleman Bastards #1

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.

Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn’t invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.

Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city’s underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive…

Rating: C

“But perhaps not everything miserable that happens to us stems directly from one of your choices, brother. Perhaps bad tidings come regardless of what we do.”

At first, I enjoyed the book. Locke was a fun character and I have a weakness for heist stories. But around page 200 I noticed something: Absolutely nothing had gone wrong so far. And the author had tried to distract me from that by telling the things out of order. At one point something seems to go wrong but it was actually part of a plan Locke had made earlier. We only learn about it afterwards. Additionally, we get ‘Interludes’ throughout the whole book, that tell us about Locke’s childhood and how he came to be a Gentlemen Bastard. Of course, they come just when something interesting happens in the main plot. (And of course, they end in the middle of something interesting happening). That’s a very cheap trick and one that’s ridiculously overused in this book.
Besides, we learn that Locke was six or seven during the beginning of these interludes. And that he had already lived on the street for a while at that point. And that he was already an extremely capable thief at that point. What’s with fantasy authors and ridiculously capable children? I promise the story would have still been very impressive if Locke had been ten at the beginning and I wouldn’t have spent a considerable amount of time rolling my eyes and going ‘At seven. Of course.’
Things began to slump a bit afterwards and I started to notice things. Like the absence of female characters. There’s Sabathea. She’s a member of the Bastards but she’s absent on a mission during the main plot. We also don’t meet her in the interludes. The two things we do learn about her is that she’s a redhead and that Locke’s in love with her. Like really. He loves her a lot. Really. He loves her so much that even when he tries to have sex with another woman he can’t because she isn’t Sabathea. And he only wants Sabathea. Because he’s really in love with her, in case you hadn’t noticed that.
What kind of mission is she one? How long will it take? Is she also in love with him or is it unrequited? How did she join the Bastards? What character traits does she have? We don’t learn any of this because that’s apparently not important. It’s important that Locke’s penis is suffering terribly.

Now after everything going smoothly for a while longer, things turn around sharply and now everything goes wrong. Really really wrong. And Locke got from one bad situation in a worse one. Can he survive that? Will Locke Lamora survive the book called The Lies of Locke Lamora? Now I’m not saying that authors can’t ever put characters in danger if the reader can be reasonably sure that they won’t kick the bucket. But that they shouldn’t act like ‘But will he survive this?’ is the most pressing question. And that’s exactly what happened here. We get very little of Locke worrying about how he’s going to get out of a difficult situation. We get very little of his friends worrying. Instead, we get a very long interlude after things just went really downhill for Locke.
Woho! Aren’t you dying to find out if he’s going to get out of this?

So after an entertaining beginning and a mediocre and drawn out middle the end came. Once I passed roughly page 500 (of 700), I was glued to the book. The finale had everything. Action! Surprising twists! Finally an awesome female character that got screentime! Characters – both villains and heroes – who got in trouble because they were a bit too clever for their own good.
Of only all of this had come a bit earlier, I would have loved this book and thrown it at everybody in my vicinity shouting ‘GO AND READ THIS’. Yeah. It was that good. But as it is I can only say ‘400-500 pages is an awfully long set-up, isn’t it?’ Because that’s what it is. The heist and everything that happens during that just sets up the actual plot. And I’m not going to recommend a book and say ‘Once you get past page 500 it gets really good’. So if you think about picking it up, bear that in mind. I still intend to pick up the second book in the series, because overall it was fun (and because it was the author’s first published novel). But I’m also not rushing to get it.

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