The Lies of Locke Lamora was an interesting novel that I very much liked but not quite enough to love. It was one of those few novels that sit awkwardly between: very much liked it
and it was okay
. So what I have decided to do is to quickly write three points on what worked for me and three points on what did not work for me.What works well?1) The setting
The world which Scott Lynch created was spectacular and interesting. A world where thieves rule and are ruled so long as their actions keep to unspoken conventions and laws. A world where the secret of magic is held by one set of mages who kill other magic users. A world where secrets, intrigue and shadowy affairs win out.2) The plot
The plot follows how Locke Lamora and his gang use disguises* to con and convince nobles into giving them cash. As a result of their skill with disguises however they end up getting forced into the middle of a thief's war between Capa Barsavi** and the Grey King (a villain who's been antagonising the Capa). This naturally leads to complications which were highly entertaining.3) Locke Lamora and co.
The thieves were a fascinating bunch of characters and as a result very interesting. The way they interacted with one another and the way the book flashed-back to their childhoods when they met was brilliant. In fact this would have been a lesser book had the characters not been so intriguing. I loved the idea of the secret societies with the Spider and the Midnighters and then the unknown Grey King coming into play I also loved how the thieves reacted to such opposition.What doesn't work as well?1) The overall moral greyness
While I'm not against a moral ambiguity in books it did lessen my enjoyment in this novel. I found that most of the actions in this book were simply resulting from lust or greed rather than for pure motives. In fact the few times I saw pure motives enter into things it was because of the brotherly bond between Locke and his men. And as discussed in my next point they aren't exactly the best role models. These are not the romantic Robin Hoods who steal from the rich for the poor. They steal from the rich so that the rich have less money and the thieves have more. I also personally am irked by a reliance in the writing to constantly use the f-word as an expletive. I'm not against swearing full stop because it expresses human emotions but I do take the view that Kafka did. That is that swearing is a sort of desecration or murder of language in general. And when one word is constantly overused it always irks me because a)few people I know speak so repetitively and b)it comes across as unimaginative and indicates a lack of proper vocabulary. 2) The gruesome aspects
If you don't want to read about a magician having his tongue cut out and his fingers removed, a drowning in horse urine and several mentions of men being cut in the legs and other awkward places this is not your book. That said while there are times the author seems to want to use shock factor or gleefully revels in introducing more blood and gore he rarely does this and mostly injuries are for the most part not overly described. 1) The chronology at times
The book is broken up every so often by shifting back and forwards in time. It's an effect which works in some ways but in others just creates confusion. It's the sort of effect which works well in a film but not so much in a book (at least not the first few times its used - the first few chapters I was lost trying to work out when everything was happening). The first half of the novel was also a little slow in setting things up for me. So while the second half was excellent the first half was ponderous.
On the whole it was memorable as a novel although I doubt I'll read the sequel anytime soon. I have far too many other books that are of greater interest to read. But it was very entertaining in the last half at least. The first half of the novel took time to get into but the second half was absolute quality. So on the whole this is a recommended novel and one which I doubt I'll ever read again but will remember and I suggest a three and a half stars rating will suffice.
*I loved the way disguises were used in the book. It reminded me of Wax in The Alloy of Law and also The Scarlet Pimpernel.
** He is the head boss of thieves if you're interested in knowing that.