The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora is without a doubt one of the most inventive fantasy novels I’ve ever read. It combines timeless, well-loved tropes with simple, yet detailed and intriguing world building and a plot that defies my best attempt at summarising. So, to whet your appetites, here’s the description straight from the back of the book:

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief a friend to the poor; a ghost that walks through walls.

Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentleman Bastards.

The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they’ve ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive…

The primary strength of this novel, however, lies not in its plotting or world building but in the narrative voice. Full of humour and wit, this is a voice that charmingly lures the unsuspecting reader deeper and deeper into the tangled plot. I am usually a quiet reader, slow to cry and even slower to laugh. Even so, The Lies of Locke Lamora kept me snorting with laughter throughout and, in some of the more poignant moments, even managed to stir me to tears.

The voice is complemented by Lynch’s unique cast of characters. While most of them seem to slot into an archetypal mould—the hero, the fighter, the sneak thief, the magician—Lynch adds new, surprising elements which breathe life into these mainstays of fantasy. Our hero, Locke, for instance, is unable to wield a sword, is thin to the point of consumption and possesses a moral compass that is faulty to say the least.

I also really appreciated the ideas the novel tapped into, especially the elements of metafiction. This is a story that is at least partially concerned with the art of telling stories—or, rather, telling very convincing lies. Lynch’s narrative structure, which seems aimed at keeping the reader in the dark about some of these lies until climactic moments of grand reveal, does sometimes trip itself up by destroying the otherwise well developed narrative tension. However, this structural flaw is one that recedes as the narrative continues and is barely noticeable as the core of the story is unfolding.

I would whole-heartedly recommend The Lies of Locke Lamora to any fans of fantasy, particularly those who appreciate Terry Pratchet’s droll wit and Patrick Rothfuss’ gritty world building and narrative devices.


10 Responses to The Lies of Locke Lamora

  1. Amie Mar 12 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Oh wow, SOLD. The name of his gang of thieves would have done it alone, but your review is fantastic! I just ordered myself a copy. Oh, internet, your willingness to bring things directly to my door makes this too easy.

  2. Julie Mar 12 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Vee, this book sounds FANTASTIC! Thanks for the rec. 🙂

  3. katherine S Mar 12 2012 at 8:04 am #

    This book sounds amazing! Thanks

  4. April Tucholke Mar 12 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    I loved this book. I’ve got the sequel sitting on my nightstand–sometimes I stroke the cover when I walk by (I’m saving it for my CA vacation at the end of the month). I think Lynch has it in him to be the next Martin. And I have to say that it’s nice reading a fantasy with less characters and a more focused world, sometimes. Martin is brilliant, but his books take a lot of…focus.

  5. Sooz Mar 12 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Wow, I haven’t even heard of this book…and it sounds AMAZING. Plus–that cover! What a looker!

    Thanks for the great review, Vahini. I’ll definitely be looking for this title in my local library. 😀

  6. Emy Shin Mar 12 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    This book sounds awesome! I’ll definitely have to check it out. 😀

  7. Kacey Mar 12 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    I love this book! I read it years ago and this review made me totally want to go reread it. (Of course, this also led me to google when the 3rd book is coming out again, which in case anyone was wondering is still roughly in the range of, say, approximately NEVER .)

  8. Ella Mar 12 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    I read this book more than two years ago. It was and still is one of my favorite fantasy novels and one of my favorite books of all time. Totally agree with everything in your review! Dying to see Sabetha in Republic of Thieves, though.

  9. Kat Zhang Mar 12 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Oooh, sounds great, Vee! Thanks for the great rec! Now if only I had more reading time, alas D:

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