“Some day, Locke Lamora,” he said, “some day, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope that I’m still around to see it.”
“Oh please,” said Locke. “It’ll never happen.”
And yes, this is the most quoted dialogue from the book and rightly so for it describes it like nothing else.
If you think you know fantasy books to be just stunners penned by Tolkien and Rowling (LoR & HP) or epics written by Martin (GoT) or more epic-er tomes written by Sanderson (Storm Light Archive) or sweetheart books by Lewis (Narnia), you got it wrong mate. If you think these are the only best works in the genre you are amiss again. For the Gentlemen Bastard Series by Scott Lynch is heck of imagination written to utterly blow away your senses.
This review shall cover the first book of the series, named The Lies of Locke Lamora and touch upon the sequels namely Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves respectively. The fourth installment is deadly waited upon for geeks like me, named The Thorn of Emberlain, which has been promised to come out later this year after multiple deferrals.
All the blurbs and descriptions that I have read about TLoLL just cannot, I repeat cannot depict the kind of book it really is. The blurb at the back of my Bantam 2007 edition describes an orphan’s life in the city of Camorr where Locke is infamous in the gang of thieves he has been brought up within, with bigger enemies lurking around he does not know of. Book Stores’ websites discuss how Locke wheedles and embezzles in this city run by the powerful Cappa Barsavi. Good ol’ Goodreads compares it with Ocean’s Eleven and describes the nature of crimes of our anti-hero Locke. Various reviews have praised this book with various details and blurbs but not even one can come close to describe how it actually is. This is one of the most wonderful, delightful, comic yet tragic and “OH MY GAAWWDDD” fantastic fiction that you will ever have the privilege to read.
The blurbs do have the premise right though. Without killing it for future readers, I’ll say that Locke is a con man, who was bought up in a gang of thieves, run by a head, where all the other tiny orphan kids are also raised in similar fashion. Soon the Gentlemen Bastards develop a swindling game of their own and under the ruling Cappa who likes to believe he knows more than he actually does, they cheat, lie and thieve from any one rich they set their eyes on. With this comes the narrative where tragic things happen, funny things also happen and thus Locke has his more than fair share of adventures.
The best part is the writing style. Even with thieves conversing in academic English (think of a city set in the Renaissance times, like Venice back in the days of artistic and literary glory), Lynch comes up with the most genuine and heartfelt of English skills, funniest lines, an amazing skill at developing characters and plots original story telling. The second sequel (Red Seas Under Red Skies) is not exactly a continuation of the first book but picks up from the end of the first book and takes us further into the deadlier waters of Locke’s adventures. With pirates, amazing female characters (YAAS! Lynch is heavily supportive of female characters) and more secrets, the book continues into the third sequel (The Republic of Thieves) which is a mind numbing, murky read per-se. It is the kind of book which will make you want to finish it despite a deadly migraine or an office night or a school night and make you want to scream after you are done with it. Though with less of a plot and more of character development (more likely a development in the secret unknown pasts of the characters), the third book is absolutely imaginative to the core.
If you do not find this book at your local book seller, please do yourself a favor and order/ request it from Liberty Books or Readings Lahore. Most Highest Recommendation. Period
(And that’s my beloved set)