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The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora (edition 2007)

by Scott Lynch

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3192201,145 (4.27)3 / 412
Title:The Lies of Locke Lamora
Authors:Scott Lynch
Info:Spectra (2007), Mass Market Paperback, 736 pages
Collections:Your library, Audiobooks
Tags:audiobook, fantasy, series

Work details

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

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English (209)  French (3)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (217)
Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: I cannot rave enough about The Lies of Locke Lamora! Vibrant characters, comprehensive world-building and an ingenious plot places this Fantasy firmly at the top of the genre with the likes of Tolkien and Martin. I cannot wait to discover the other adventures awaiting these beloved characters.

Opening Sentence: Locke Lamora’s rule of thumb was this: a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim’s trust forever.

The Review:

The Lies of Locke Lamora literally fell into my hands while I was visiting the Random House booth at San Diego Comic Con last month. I was looking at another title when the person next to me bumped the stack and sent several books flying. I grabbed whatever was closest to me and was surprised when the girl working at the booth told me I could keep the books I’d picked up. Score! I didn’t even look at the titles I walked away with until I was stuck with a four hour layover at the airport several days later. I had no expectations other than hoping it would be interesting enough to lessen the annoyance of a long day stuck at the airport. As it turns out, it’s become one of my all-time favorite stories and I had to share it even though it wasn’t on my list of titles to review this month.

The prologue is a must read to fully appreciate the genius that is Scott Lynch. It all begins with a man called the Thiefmaker trying to sell an orphan boy to another man called Chains. It’s clear the Thiefmaker doesn’t suffer from any kind of moral misgivings about bringing orphaned children to his home under the graveyard with the sole purpose of turning them into his street thugs. It’s also clear that this isn’t the first time the Thiefmaker has approached the Eyeless Priest; he’s sold three other former “special” students to the Priest in recent years. In each of the previous cases, these students proved too troublesome for the Thiefmaker to control and it’s no different with the small boy known as Locke. However, the Thiefmaker’s issues with Locke are bigger than any he ever faced with previous students. Turns out that Locke’s skill at elaborate larceny schemes have become a very serious liability for the Thiefmaker – so much so that the Thiefmaker vows to kill Locke if the Priest won’t buy him.

The story begins several years later. Chains has passed away but the small group of specially trained thieves he named the Gentleman Bastards remains. Locke is the leader of the highly-successful group – which now consists of twins Calo and Galdo, the quiet but deadly Jean, and their apprentice Bug – and they are in the midst of a new scheme that will bring the Gentleman Bastards more money than ever before. Locke has learned much from his near death experience under the Thiefmaker and the rest of the Gentleman Bastards trust in him completely. The fact that they will be killed if Capa Barsavi, Camorr’s crime lord, ever finds out they’ve broken the Secret Peace by running a scheme on a noble doesn’t deter them. Neither does it matter that they will never be able to spend the money because doing so would blow their cover as the small-time pickpockets every other gang in town thinks they are. They’re content to continue acting like Capa Barsavi’s diligent group of small-time thieves, paying him his expected portion of their supposedly small monthly takes like normal. The knowledge that they far outwit anyone in Camorr, that they are able to con not only the nobility but also the crime lord and all his lackeys, is the only payoff that matters to Locke and the Gentleman Bastards. Then everything starts to go very, very wrong thanks to a newcomer who seems even more devious than Locke. This mystery man has his sights set on Locke, using him as a tool to obliterate the tenuous balance between Camorr’s crime network and the nobility. Despite Locke’s ability to scheme his way out of any situation, no costume or elaborate plot will save any of them from being caught up in the deadly consequences of the coming war.

Locke in particular comes across as a smug little SOB. He believes he is the cleverest con man to ever exist in Camorr and acts as though he can find a way out of any situation. Yet he and the Gentleman Bastards are immensely lovable despite the fact that they’re willing to cheat, lie and otherwise screw people out of whatever valuables they possess. Though they are members of a violent network of thugs, they do not participate in cruel or spiteful treatment of their marks. They instead rely on Locke’s brilliant wit and seemingly infallible luck, as well as expert costuming, to pull off their daring schemes. But Locke, Jean, Calo, Galdo and Bug aren’t just comrades in crime; they are brothers. Sincere admiration and affection, as well as good-natured harassment that only the best of friends or family can get away with, cement the relationships between these men. Their loyalty to each other is heartwarming and reading their interactions truly felt like I was listening in on conversations between lifelong friends.

Still, their relationships and the incredibly dark yet compelling plot wouldn’t have been as powerful had it not been for the amazing world Lynch created. The gritty setting brought a combination of Venice and Medieval England landscapes to mind and it was easy to envision Capa Barsavi’s floating headquarters or the mythical temple the Gentleman Bastards called home. Lynch provided the perfect amount of detail to create a landscape where these men and their counterparts could thrive and the mythical aspects seemed commonplace. The clothing, the magical abilities, even the secondary characters all blended seamlessly to create a comprehensive world where it was easy to get lost. In fact, I ended up getting motion sickness on the plane because I couldn’t put it down!

I could go on and on about the various aspects I adored (I warned you I couldn’t stop raving about it) but think my point is made. There is nothing I didn’t enjoy about The Lies of Locke Lamora and I encourage you to give yourself a gift by finding the nearest copy as soon as possible.

Notable Scene:

“I got them killed?”

“Yes.” Chains didn’t soften his voice. “You really did. As surely as you tried to hurt Veslin, you killed Gregor and four or five of your little comrades in the bargain.”


“Do you see now, what consequences really are? Why you have to move slowly, think ahead, control the situation? Why you need to settle down and wait for time to give you sense to match your talent for mischief? We have years to work together, Locke. Years for you and my other little hellions to practice quietly. And that has to be the rule, if you want to stay here. No games, no cons, no scams, no anything except when and where I tell you. When someone like you pushes the world, the world pushes back. Other people are likely to get hurt. Am I clear?”

FTC Advisory: Del Rey/Random House provided me with a copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
1 vote DarkFaerieTales | Sep 1, 2014 |

Big fantasy novels are often not my thing, but this was generally pleasing after a slow start - our hero, Locke Lamora, flits between underworld and ruling classes in the city where we lay our scene, attempting to pull off audacious scams which sometimes fail and sometimes succeed, risking and indeed losing friends along the way. The end of the book has a couple of spectacular twists.
  nwhyte | Aug 24, 2014 |

Checking the Goodreads record for this book, I noticed that Pat Rothfuss had given it 5 stars. He further explained in his review that since his first book came out at the same time as Lynch's, folks were noticing the similarities between the two authors. There's no comparison. Other than the fact they can each write 500-page-plus fantasy novels.

Rothfuss can tell a better story - that is, a discrete story that may have little to do with the book in hand. He puts a huge amount of feeling into his stories, and it really shows. But he's not a great plotter. Lynch, on the other hand, plots extraordinarily well but may not have quite the talent for knocking our socks off with the story.

I really liked this plot - of a poor orphan boy who learns the meaning of friendship and honor while thieving merrily along the way - and I really like the stories he weaves throughout - how he learned everything he needed to from his mentor, how his friend Jean becomes the best fighter around, how he navigates stealing what he can from the Salvaras - so I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Enough that I'm definitely getting the next one to read, soon.

But Lynch needs to work on the background. Oh, the Camorrans live in a city in the south with many watery canals and all Latin-based names? And the Valerans (sp?) speak a harsh language and come from the north? World building is harder work than it may seem, obviously. ( )
  khage | Aug 18, 2014 |
I would rate it higher because it gets almost everything right, however the primary character at the end of book one is still a selfish, unpleasant character and I can't detect any actual character building. overall 80% except for the lack of personal development. ( )
  jason9292 | Aug 14, 2014 |
This is a well-crafted fantasy novel that I’d recommend to many people, but that I myself could not like despite its many virtues. Set in a city-state crowded with humanity and peppered with the mysterious creations of an ancient race, the story goes back and forth between the past training of master thief Locke Lamora and his crew and the present, when they’re at the top of their game and about to pull off a huge score against the nobility. The worldbuilding is intriguing and doesn’t delay the story; the events (including Lamora’s relations with the master of the city’s illegal activities, who doesn’t allow ripping off the nobility; the score, which involves an elaborate scam as well as an investigation thereof; and a troublesome newcomer known as the Gray King who keeps killing other criminals) move fast and with an accelerating pace that ends with an almost unbearable tension. Lynch persuasively raises the stakes—lots of people end up dead who most fantasy authors would’ve been afraid to kill, but this isn’t GRRM grimdark territory either—and sets up obstacles that are satisfyingly all but insurmountable. I wasn’t thrilled about the lack of major female characters, but the real reason that I could not enjoy this book as much as it should be enjoyed was that Lamora is a scam artist, and I am too lawfully-oriented and anti-false advertising to like that. I can’t root for a guy whose raison d’etre is to take money from people under false pretenses, even if they only offer the money because they have some larceny in their own hearts. Though Lynch does his best to show Lamora protecting the small people he barrels over in his complicated schemes against the wealthy, that protection at best means that they’re alive and exiled rather than tortured to death for their failure to protect their employers. Lynch is honest enough to show some of the collateral damage, but I can’t help but think of all the other victims. However, as those victims are fictional, and as not everyone has my visceral reaction to con artists, this may well be a fantasy worth checking out. ( )
  rivkat | Jul 23, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Scott Lynchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martini, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valkonen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Een fris, origineel en fascinerend verhaal van een opwindend nieuw geluid in het fantasygenre.
For Jenny, this little world that was blessed
to have you peeking over my shoulder
while it took shape--
Love Always.
First words
At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.
We don't believe in hard work when a false face and a good line of bullshit can do so much more.
Locke is our brother and our love for him knows no bounds. But the four most fatal words in the Therin language are 'Locke would appreciate it.'
Rivaled only by 'Locke taught me a new trick'.
Catbridges were another legacy of the Eldren who’d ruled before the coming of men: narrow glass arches no wider than an ordinary man’s hips, arranged in pairs over most of Camorr’s canals and at several places along the Angevine River. Although they looked smooth, their glimmering surfaces were as rough as shark’s-hide leather; for those with a reasonable measure of agility and confidence, they provided the only convenient means of crossing water at many points. Traffic was always one-directional over each catbridge; ducal decree clearly stated that anyone going the wrong direction could be shoved off by those with the right-of-way.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055358894X, Mass Market Paperback)

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…

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.…

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Vowing to bring down the crime boss running the city, a group of Gentlemen Bastards, led by Locke Lamora, sets out to beat the Capa at his own game, taking on other thieves, murderers, beggars, prostitutes, and thugs in the process.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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