Book Review| Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Do you know what’s extremely frustrating? When you read a book that had so much potential to be out of this world amazing, and it just falls flat. That about sums up my feelings for The Lies of Locke Lamora. I was really pulling for it, and the more I think about it, the more frustrated I get.

Don’t worry, I will explain. But first, here’s a synopsis for you.

Synopsis: 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…

The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book in the Gentleman Bastards series. It is Scott Lynch’s debut novel, and was recommended to me by two different people that I trust. They recommended it, because I’ve read similar things like it that I’ve enjoyed. Thanks to my friends, I went into this book with some high hopes. They weren’t extremely high, but I was expecting this book to be good. I also was expecting that I would get an action packed adventure with some unexpected twists and turns.

While it definitely contained lots of actions and a few twists, the pacing of this book was excruciatingly slow. I felt like it took me a month to finish it (in reality it took about two weeks). I think what really effected the pacing, for me, was the amount of description and background information that we got. I didn’t hate all of it, but it could have been severely cut down. There were also these interludes at the end of chapters that really interfered with the pacing. Again, I enjoyed some of them, but others I could do without.

Due to the pacing issues, the plot was just very muddled. At it’s core it was interesting and exciting, but it was not executed properly. I wanted a little more structure and framing, because it just seemed like things randomly happened. It was weird. We did get some nice framing in the beginning, and I wish that continued throughout the entire book. Even though things did come together in the end, I struggled getting through a good chunk of this book.

Another thing that I didn’t like about the book was the writing style. I don’t know how to describe it really, but it was just like bad fantasy novel type writing. Also, it was overly descriptive and at times seemed like it was trying too hard. I was not a fan of it, and it definitely impacted my enjoyment of the book.

Also, I need to talk about it’s heists elements, because it was marketed as a heist novel. Some idiot was even bold enough to compare it to the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, and it really does not remind me of those films. First of all, I don’t know if I would actually call this a heist novel. There are many heist elements, thanks to our thieving crew and the cons that they pull. However, in a heist novel our main team usually works towards this big goal. Typically, it’s an impossible thing that they have to steal, though it doesn’t always have to be a thing. That is not how this book is set-up. I guess you can say that beating the Grey King is their goal, but that’s not something that is set-up in the beginning, and doesn’t come into play until like 150 to 200 pages in. It could have worked, had the structure been more clear. Structure is key to heist novels. I’d argue that it’s an integral part to Ocean’s Eleven‘s genius!  But there was no structure and there was so much going on. I’d say the plot is way more revenge driven than heist driven.

Now that I’ve shit on this book, let’s move on to some things that I actually liked. Despite most of this post being negative, I didn’t hate this book. My favorite aspect of the book was hands down the characters. I loved all of them, and to be honest it was what kept me engaged. Locke, our main character, is a magnificent bastard who manages to be mysterious, but also extremely relatable. Jean was great too, along with the rest of Locke’s thieving team. I also really enjoyed the antagonists. Seriously, all of the characters were interesting and great!

One thing I really commend the book for doing is creating some really awesome female characters. Sometimes I think that strong female characters in fantasy novels are always these badasses who are very physically fit and just have that whole “I don’t give a shit even though I do” kind of demeanor. They all sort of blur together. However, in this book I felt that all of the women were very different, but strong. Like you definitely have your typical badass, but then there’s Sofia, who is written as a softer character. However, she is extremely intelligent and capable. In one scene, she jumps in to help during a time of crisis, ignoring her husband who thinks she should stay on the sidelines. It was so refreshing.

Another thing I liked was the fact that there was no romance. While I am a fan of romance and enjoy when it is included in fantasy novels, I liked that this book revolved around friendship.  Friendship is a theme that is not often explored in books, so I enjoyed seeing it done so here. The bonds between our main thieving crew are so strong and it just makes the book. I seriously had all of the feels going on in regards to their friendships with each other.

I think that’s what frustrates me the most about this book. It had such amazing characters and an interesting plot, but the pacing and structure just really dragged it down. I wanted to love this book so much, but I couldn’t bring myself to love it. I definitely didn’t hate it, but it also was not the best book I’ve read all year. At the moment I do plan on continuing with the series, because I loved the characters. This was a debut novel, so I’m really hoping that the writing gets better. We shall see though.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Have you read The Lies of Locke Lamora? I would love to know your thoughts on this book! Also, if you have read this book and continued on with the series, does the writing get better? Let’s chat in the comment section down below. 


3 thoughts on “Book Review| Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

  1. I have read The Lies of Locke Lamora a few times and it is one of my all time favorites. I’ve read the other two books in the series a few times as well and they are all great although each one is quite distinct in terms of its setting and story. The second one focuses on a heist (more so than the first) and a stint out at sea with pirates while the second is about fixing an election. The female characters get even stronger as the series goes on. I personally love the writing style and wit of Scott Lynch and the unpredictable plots. I love having no idea what is going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely like the unpredictability of his plots. Some of the deaths and twists that occur in The Lies of Locke Lamora I did not see coming at all. As I said, both of my other friends loved it so maybe the writing style is a personal thing. It’s good to know that the female characters get even stronger, and the premises of the next two books sound awesome! I definitely plan on giving the second one a go.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I think you are right. Writing style is such a personal thing. I like Sci Fi and everyone appeared to universally love Neuromancer, but I just didn’t like the writing style and I couldn’t make myself like it, even though I tried haha.

        Liked by 1 person

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