A review from my Goodreads page.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is about an orphan (Locke Lamora) and his escalating escapades as a gentleman thief (bastard).
It’s a story about winning and losing, blood ties and loyalty and vengeance. And ultimately, simply; what’s right and wrong.
Fair warning – it is dark, and gritty, and violent. It doesn’t piss about. There are “mature themes” from the start, scenes of a violent and disturbing nature, and so. Much. Swearing.
(My viewpoint – swearing can add a great deal to atmosphere and dialogue, highlighting emphasis and emotion. However, some people are prudish snowflakes who find it “unnecessary” – you’ve been warned)
Lynch is an extremely descriptive writer; the book was evocative from the very start, his language painting some truly beautiful images of the setting for the story and the introductions to the characters.
Having been a while since I last read fantasy, I struggled with the style to begin with; but I soon overcame this and became invested in the story. I started to miss the characters when I had to put the book down.
It took awhile to really get to know the characters, Lynch built upon their personalities in a very well crafted way; I can look back on my first impressions of Locke as a child, and as an adult, and compare them with my impressions of him at the end of the novel, and recognise the differences in my opinions as I would when getting to know someone for real.
The narrative jumps between the present and anecdotal episodes from the past. During the story these work well to gradually build your sense of who Locke is, as I mentioned above; but it is not until the end that you fathom how much these episodes have cornerstoned the plot when Lynch brings it together in a sucker punch to your emotions (read: I cried).
And it is an emotional book; it’s dark and gritty and tough, sure. There’s everything you’d expect in this kind of “grimdark” fantasy; knife fights, fencing, stabbing in the back, torture, magic – even things you wouldn’t (shark fights and drowning in horse piss). But our hero (and so many other characters) is (are) so human. He’s a liar, a wheeler deeler on another level; but you are shown so much more to him than this, his loyalty and love, his anger and regret, his empathy and jubilation, his weakness and error, his misplaced judgement. Lynch creates a myriad of flawless representations of humanity that brings these characters to life in front of you.
One thing that chafed on the edges of my perception as I made my way through the story was the constant reference to measurement. Now, I’m useless at picturing depth, and height, and etc. I know my husband is six feet – and thats it. That is the extent to my knowledge of measurement. So when people explain things to me in terms of meters, I respond “yeah, ok, that’s how many feet?” And nod vaguely to their response as I try and compare that to my husband.
Everything in this story was measured thus; the bar was forty feet long, the tower was six hundred feet high, there was a drop of three hundred feet – trying to work out how many times six goes into that is too much maths for me. I mentally stumbled over this glitch in an otherwise perfectly imaginable scene every time (to the extent where I googled how high in feet certain landmarks were so I could have a frame of reference).
“The roof gardens were lost above the clouds” or “we looked down upon the hawk in its flight” or “the top of the tower shone in the rays of a sun yet to ascend the horizon and reach us in the grimy depths of street level” offer far more to my measurement-stunted imagination than approximate dimensions.
I am very well aware this is equally a critique of my own limitations and not the book’s.
I would heartily recommend this book.
Thankfully, I have the next in the series to go straight on to so I can hold off the severe book hangover looming over me.
Sabetha better be in the next one…
You can find The Lies of Locke Lamora at: