Midsummer-Mark; The Day of Changes, the seventeenth of Parthis in the Seventy-eighth Year of Aza Guilla, as the Therin Calendar would have it. On the Day of Changes, the city of Camorr went mad. – The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I follow a blog by a Library where they review books. I enjoy the reviews because they’re short, to the point, and generally true in my experience. This blog has only added to my reading list, so follow it at your own risk.
The other day, I read a review for Red Seas under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch. To be honest, and if you know me you won’t be surprised, it was the caution at the end of the article which caught my eye and made me want to read the book. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy high fantasy, and I enjoy clean fantasy if it’s done well. But, what I don’t like is insipid fantasy with no teeth.
Needing a new book to read on my phone while I work out, I looked up Scott Lynch. I found that Red Seas under Red Skies is book 2 of the series, so I downloaded a sample of The Lies of Locke Lamora, book 1. It hooked me instantly. Reading this book was akin to when I watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I literally grinned from ear to ear the entire movie and couldn’t stop grinning when I left the theater. It was fun. It was just plain fun.
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a very well written fantasy. You know when you dabble in an art form for a while and it gives you an appreciation for the artists because you know how much work it is to do what they do? I felt that way the entire time I read Scott Lynch’s book. I have a good sense of what goes on behind the words on the page. Lynch has done the work. His world is well-developed, in-depth, gritty, and unique. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a fantasy book this much in a long, long time.
I find much of fantasy and urban fantasy annoying, degrading, and poorly written. Lynch’s book is none of those. He’s gritty, but not quite to the George R.R. Martin level. His rich world is familiar, but not just another medieval fantasy. He doesn’t insult my intelligence by having a sex scene on the first page as a hook. Nor does he treat women as eye candy and men as idiots. He uses a series of flashbacks to develop the characters and constantly ratchet up the tension level until the reader is strung out and begging for relief.
The story—without giving too much away—is about a young man, Locke, who is a thief in a dark and dangerous port city. Locke is far more than a pickpocket. He uses costumes, language, and fashion to steal from the one group of people he shouldn’t steal from by the laws of the Secret Peace. He has just enough moxy to get him in deep trouble, and just enough savvy to get him out. But, Locke is also a very loyal man guided by what he views as right: stealing is fine, but murder isn’t. As the plot thickens, this loyalty is used against him over and over, but he never waivers from it. Locke is no Robin Hood. He steals from the rich and keeps it for himself. But he is clever, kind, and has the snarkiest sense of humor even in the tightest of spots. This sense of humor is one of the most enjoyable parts of the book.
The Lies of Locke Lamora did put me in a very uncomfortable position. I both wanted to keep reading and I wanted to stop. I wanted to make sure everyone came through the twisted heist and double-crossing alive and well—they don’t—but I didn’t want to leave the world. I wanted to stay with Locke and his gang for as long as possible. If I read in little increments, I could stay longer. If I savored the moment of tension when lives where on the line, I wouldn’t have to return to a world without honorable thieves dressed in fake beards wielding stilettos and a sharp tongue. If I just read a little . . .
It didn’t happen. Lynch weaves a tale of high stakes and high tension with twists and turns reaching to grab the elusive Locke and his gang in a grasp of death. Putting the book down left Locke, Jean, Galdo, Calo, and Bug in dire circumstance. I just couldn’t do it. So, what did I do? How did I solve the horrible situation Lynch put me in? I instantly got book 2!
I do feel obligated to put in a word of caution. This book is pretty clean, all things considered, on the sex side, but it is filled with language and violence. If you have no stomach for such things, please just pass on it. But, if you think you might enjoy something that reads like a mix between Game of Thrones and Pirates of the Caribbean, that’s just a bit easier to read, and where a few people make it to the end, try the Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.
If you’ve already read it, let me know what you thought! If you click the picture of the book below, it will take you to Amazon where you can order the book, plus I get a little kick back for being the link you used. 🙂