Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

October 28, 2006 at 12:00 am | Posted in 4 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | 5 Comments
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Scott Lynch took a bizarre route to becoming a published author. He was posting excerpts of this novel on his blog when, yep, a publisher read it, contacted him, and ended up buying it. This is one of those fantasy books that earnestly tells you it is the first of seven…I guess some people find this a selling point, but for me it is just about an immediate deal breaker. Not to worry, though, it stands quite well on its own.

The good news here is that as a reader you are in very capable hands with Lynch. Despite this being his first published work his prose and dialogue is very effective. While a fantasy book with magic and so forth, the overall flavor of the book is sort of Charles Dickens meets Dorothy Dunnett. Or something. The main character starts out as a poor street urchin turned thief turned…uh, adult thief? Unfortunately, the plot is mostly concerned with this unconvincing gangster turf battle and “honor among thieves” business. Throw in some corrupt politicians for a little flavor. Throughout the main character is animated by utterly aimless greed (the proceeds of his crime just pile up while he and his merry band live the life of the noble poor), concern for friends, and self-preservation. There’s some nice twists, fun set pieces, and snappy lines, but I was never quite convinced there was any good reason for me to care about any of this. With (sigh) six books to go, perhaps some real character development, themes, or other high minded literary practices will emerge to match Lynch’s talent with the nuts and bolts, but for the moment it all feels rather shallow.

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  1. […] and although I wouldn’t call myself extremely well-read I’ve already read all four (Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, and R Scott Bakker). I’ve also read Glen Cook, whose Black […]

  2. 4 stars for a rather shallow book?

  3. That does sound like at most a three star review, doesn’t it? Well, in defense of my four years ago self, I tend to grade books at least partially on their aspirations. This was a fun, fast-paced caper book, far more well-written that most books of that type, and I gave it four stars on those grounds and then spent the whole write up wishing Lynch would aim higher.

  4. That makes sense.

    I did’t notice the age of the review.

    I just discovered your reviews recently—via io9—and have been enjoying them very much. This one, with it’s disconnect between the star rating and your actual thoughts on the book, jumped out at me. Unfair of me to leave one quibble when most of my thoughts were highly positive. I really appreciate your ability to express complex thoughts about fiction in such a clear, enjoyable manner—you have great talent as an essayist.

    I look forward to more.

  5. […] influenced and although I wouldn’t call myself extremely well-read I’ve already read all four (Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, and R Scott Bakker). I’ve also read Glen Cook, whose Black […]


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