Warning: this post contains spoilers for Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora
There’s a lot of really good new fantasy on the market right now, but some of it can start to seem derivative, especially if you read a lot of fantasy. It’s refreshing, therefore, to come across something new that is also original, and that was the case with The Lies of Locke Lamora, at least to an extent. It was definitely one of the more enjoyable and well-written fantasy books I’ve read in awhile.
I wasn’t entirely encouraged by the book’s start, which involved yet another orphan being raised to be a thief on the streets. That backstory has started to become its own trope in the genre, but Lynch took the basic idea in a different direction. Instead of a dirty street thief, Locke Lamora is a gentleman thief, stealing by deception and subtlety instead of trickery and slight of hand. He does it too in a unique world, with an intriguing, semi-soft magic system, and a strong political structure (meaning that it’s strong from a story perspective, not necessarily an actually strong and capable government).
The story was compelling, with unexpected twists and turns (which can be hard to come by: as an author, you start to see the tools other authors use, and it lets you get ahead of the plot in many cases), and the characters were dynamic and unique, avoiding most of the usually motivations. One of the best details of the book was how they were so successful at thievery, and didn’t even know what to spend all of their money on once they had it. The revenge motivation for the antagonist seemed a little far-fetched, but it did help move the story along. What really kept it interesting, though, was Locke and his capers.
The only major mistake of the book, in fact, was that there’s a sequel. Not that I wouldn’t love to see more of Locke Lamora, or more books by Scott Lynch, but because I don’t think Locke Lamora should be serialized. Part of what was really interesting about the book was how the stakes kept changing, and I think turning it into a series detracts from that by making the stakes all relate. I would almost prefer that what happens to Locke next be left to the imagination, to the point that I haven’t yet decided if I will read the rest of the trilogy or not.
However, when the only possibly snafu in a new novel is that there’s another one, you know that the book must be worth reading. It can be a bit heavy on the crude language at times, but not to the detriment of the story. I hope that you consider reading just what lies Locke has dreamed up.