I was hesitant to post this review as soon as I finished it, mainly because it was actually for something! So you can actually find it on the Gollancz blog right here!:
So quite excited about that, I don’t mind telling you! But now onto the review (which seems slightly pointless as I’ve just shown you a link to where you can read it… Never mind!):
Two things struck me when I first beheld The Lies of Locke Lamora. Firstly, the book itself. And secondly, that the quote from Richard Morgan contained the word ‘swashbuckling’. With regards to the book itself, I would like to give a quick nod to the look of the book. It’s easy to overlook but it has been crafted into a gorgeous piece with a golden script proudly pronouncing the title underneath an intriguing picture of a vaguely Venetian landscape. This is enough to draw the eye (quite apart from the quote from George R.R. Martin) and the back cover of the book only serves to create further intrigue and of course, that’s where we find ‘swashbuckling’. All of this together makes the perfect precursor to the book itself, a slightly dark, well polished swashbuckling story.
With a series that’s called ‘The Gentleman Bastard Sequence’ and being promised swashbuckle aplenty one expects a certain tongue-in-cheek attitude from the writing. And that is exactly what you get. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a wonderfully spun tale of the Gentleman Bastards a group of first rate confidence tricksters in the city of Camorr, much like a fantastical Venice. Lynch’s creation is a wonderfully constructed world with colourful characters with language just as colourful as they are (although the main characters mainly have silver tongues).
We meeting Locke at the start of his illustrious career and we learn with him very quickly that mixing his lack of restraint and his shady career path is a very dangerous thing to do indeed. Shady is, indeed, also a good word to describe the world that Scott Lynch has created. The city of Camorr (or at least the side we see of it) has its own twisted charm with its own rules and system of honour. Lynch introduces us to the dangerous world that Locke lives in steadily but surely, you never feel as though you’re out of your depth but there’s always something new to explore.
Similarly, I also found that the way Lynch introduces Locke Lamora’s backstory to you as the reader was different but refreshingly it kept the pace of the story without succumbing to the dreaded information dumps that the fantasy genre can be danger to. But was also infuriatingly successful at keeping you suspended above the cliffhangers. Instead of running through Lockes’ story from beginning to end, we see the beginning of his story and then jump forward. At certain points Lynch gives us an interlude to show us how Locke Lamora came to be. I found that this was a good way to get to know the character, we don’t suffer through what can be annoying character develop as we metaphorically shout at the screen about what the character clearly should do.
Lynch’s tale of Locke Lamora is well told, stylishly written and compellingly structured. The characters are thoroughly lovable, well developed and utterly devious. The story will drag you in, tickle you, perplex you and confound you. Lynch isn’t afraid to slap you in the face with a big meaty plot twist but it never happens to to shock just for the sake of it. The writing is reminiscent of Pratchett in that it is entertaining without sacrificing any of its loquacious charm. Overall I would thoroughly recommend this book, it is well written, the story plays out exceedingly well and the characters absolutely bring the book to another level. Swashbuckling adventure is promised and that is precisely what you get, a fantastic swashbuckling tale.