The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Posted May 31, 2018 by Amber in Reviews / 13 Comments

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch

Series: Gentleman Bastard #1
Publisher: Bantam Spectra on June 27, 2006
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Target Age Group: Adult, New Adult
Rating: ★★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

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...


This book was rough.  In so many ways.

It took me a bit to get into The Lies of Locke Lamora.  The perspective darts back and forth between the very intense current events, and historical events that inform whatever is about to come.  I have a history of disliking this type of storytelling, and I didn’t love it here.  Both lines were interesting – the current events were so stressful.  Left to themselves, I don’t honestly think I could have made it through, because Aie!  I probably would have had a sympathetic heart attack.  The backstory was interesting, but would not have stood alone as a story.  So while I didn’t love the jumping back and forth, I honestly think it was necessary.

The story.  Oy.  The only book that has stressed me out as much as The Lies of Locke Lamora is The Name of the Wind.  Both feature incredibly arrogant main characters that you find you like even though they keep making TERRIBLE choices and ahahahahhhh just stop!!!!! They get what they need to get done, done.  But I think I lost five years of my life worrying over Locke, Jean, the Sanza twins, and Bug.  And everyone.

All the characters are really fantastic.  My personal favorite was Jean Tannen.  He breaks out of so many traditional character tropes.  First of all, Jean is an overweight character.  Most rotund characters end up as sidekicks or comic relief, but not Jean.  Jean is fierce.  As a child, Father Chains noted his temper and had him trained as a fighter.  Jean wields a pair of hatchets, which he fondly refers to as “The Wicked Sisters”.  When was the last time you ran into a fantasy character that chose hatchets over swords?  Add the fact that Jean’s blind without he eyeglasses and has been trained as a Death priest… he’s formidable.  More formidable that Locke, I think.  Such a good character.

By the time you’re at 50% of the way through the book, you’ve got to get it into your head that everyone is going to die.  Don’t fall in love with any characters.  Don’t make assumptions about the direction of the plot.  Just buckle up and stay along for the ride, or you’ll have a heart attack before you get to the end.

It’s a really, really good book.  Even if you have a hard time getting started, stick with it, because it is so worth it.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

4.5 stars overall rating


Have you read this book or anything by this author?  If so, did you enjoy it?  Tell me all about your experience in the comments!

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13 responses to “The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

    • Amber

      Perfect description! “Tortuously wonderful” – I like it! I’m surprised you haven’t come across it… I see it CONSTANTLY on Goodreads! But yeah, get past the first 20% and you will be hoooooooked. And then, if you haven’t already, listen to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which offers the same anxiety with an equally wonderful story.

  1. I also had a hard time starting this book. The first time I read it, I even quit after a few chapters. Later I tried again and I am glad I did. I liked the fact that the story is both funny and excited! I loved the charactes too! I haven’t read Red Seas Under Red Skies, are you planning to read the sequel?

    • Amber

      I was ready to quit! I long progress notes about 4 times in a row basically just saying “bored” and “are we there yet?” then at 50% WHOOSH THINGS HAPPENED. I will *definitely* be reading the next book, though it’s about 500 books down on my TBR (I have a problem).

  2. YAAAY YOU LOVED IT! It took me a while to get into at first too but then the characters just went and stole my heart. Omggg the characters are all kinds of amazing! Jean is precious. And Locke too. Their friendship is EVERYTHING. And the Sanza twins. And Bug. MY HEART.

    • Amber

      Jean is precious, but Locke stresses me out. A lot. Like… yelling at the radio, “WHAT THE HELL DUDE JUST STAY THERE WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING.” My relationship with Locke gives me small heart attacks. XD

  3. This sounds good. I wouldn’t have picked it up from the synopsis but your review has changed my mind. I like books with original characters that don’t play up to stereotypes.

    • Amber

      I was opposite at first! The synopsis pulled me in, but I nearly put it down in the beginning because it wasn’t what I expected. The characters are very strong if you’re just a bit patient with them, but the pacing is a bit like George R.R. Martin’s stuff I guess overall, the book requires patience? But it really pays off. It’s a thick one, too. Maybe an audiobook? That’s how I did it, and while I wasn’t crazy about the narrator, my husband LOVES him. 😀

  4. My husband recommended this to me and I was skeptical about it (even though he also recommended The Name of the Wind which I ADORED). Turns out, he was right again. Your description of arrogant characters that we love anyway is spot on. Normally, I hate those type of characters! Locke and Kvothe win you over though.

    Rachel @ Never Enough Novels recently posted: Top 10 World War II Novels
    • Amber

      They really do, don’t they! They’re flawed, but the odds are so far against them that help rooting for them as the underdog! 🙂