This book was a slog for me. Not entirely the books fault; I had a lot of life changes throughout the duration which dramatically decreased my availabThis book was a slog for me. Not entirely the books fault; I had a lot of life changes throughout the duration which dramatically decreased my available reading time. A return to full time work, new baby, etc.
Yet even with all those changes, even with the acknowledgement that it wasn't entirely the book's fault... Some of it was.
I ended up finishing this book more out of a sense of duty to the series. It was a task I had to complete. A chore, almost. In short, a far cry from my experiences with the first three amazing books in this series (or the latter half of the forth). Martin's writing style is still right up there, but his pacing and story telling seem to have fallen to tatters.
Maintaining a series of this scope is no easy task and I think the side effects of that have been increasingly evident as the delay between books grew.
In terms of specific complaints; pacing is really the big one for me. A lot of the chapter cliffhangers were quite well done. So you'd reach these brief peaks of brilliance every once in a while and once trained to expect them have a certain anticipation as you near chapter's-end, but the parts that come before... ugh.
Which leads me to why I've still given this thing a 4 star. Really it'd be a 3.5 if it'd let me, but nonetheless, the above should be framed in the context of the rest of the series.
Amazing, amazing books, that perfectly balanced all elements; writing style, story, plot pace and more. This one fell off the wagon for large swathes of the book, but that still put it at the head of the pile when compared to most other books.
My hope for the series isn't dead; I think that George has it in him to pull the threads together and give us tighter volumes in the future. If we start hearing word of more book splits, that may well be the clarion call to be alarmed, but we'll just have to see.
Further, there were many legitimately enjoyable chapters in the book; there just needed to be a better ratio of those to the other kind. ...more
Given the title of the book and a bit of the blurb on the back, if I hadn't already heard otherwise from friends forging ahead and reading the title bGiven the title of the book and a bit of the blurb on the back, if I hadn't already heard otherwise from friends forging ahead and reading the title before me, I would have gone in expecting another tale along the lines of Name of the Wind / Wise Man's Fear. I would have expected to read about the making of the legend; the story behind the story of Locke Lamora vs the Reality. Then having made this connection and comparison, I would have expected to be disappointed.
I didn't get that story. Not really. But neither was I at all disappointed. This is a solid four, perhaps pushing at the edges of a five.
I suppose in some ways we do get the story behind the story told on the blurb, but this isn't one of the really developed themes of the story as it was in Patrick Rothfuss' work. You'll find none of the depth of meaning or hidden symbolism here.
Yet you will get a fantastic story. If I were to say what the main theme was, it would be vengeance. Revenge and the toll it can take. Lies is well woven story, changing between the past and the current day, chapter by chapter for the most part. To begin, I was in many ways more interested in the recounting of the past, but before long that switched around. I enjoyed both, though, and I do wish that the recounting of the past had carried on beyond the point it did. I still had more questions!
I suppose it's possible that some of those questions will be answered in later volumes. In fact, I'd be most surprised if some of the more pressing ones did not.
I had a lot of fun reading this book, but parts of it can be demanding of you. There is a lot of humour and light-heartedness to be found within Lynch's pages for all the roughness surrounding our Gentleman Bastards; but they cannot remain untouched forever precisely because there is all the roughness surrounding them.
Caught up in a plot they don't truly understand, Lynch can be rather merciless upon them, perhaps following some of George R.R. Martin's school of thought. One I personally agree with, I might add. It adds a certain intensity to the written word to actually have to truly wonder where the cards may fall for these characters you've come to enjoy.
Normally, when I am this into a series, I need to read it right through. Or at least everything that is available. Everything else on the reading list will just have to wait until I'm done. Yet after finishing Lies of Locke Lamora, I got a few pages into Red Seas Under Red Skies before realising that no, I'd actually need a break from this one.
The ending of Lies wraps that particular chapter of Locke's life fairly well, but you still may need to take a breather after it's all over. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, whether it is a thing that works in the series favour or not. I'm keen to read the next volume, but, just, perhaps after I've read something a bit lighter between. Getting started on one of the Dresden Files books oughta do the trick....more
“Do you know what punishments I've endured for my crimes, my sins? None. I am proof of the absurdity of men's most treasured abstractions. A just uni
“Do you know what punishments I've endured for my crimes, my sins? None. I am proof of the absurdity of men's most treasured abstractions. A just universe wouldn't tolerate my existence.”
Looking at my review history here on Once Upon a Time to date, one may understandably draw the conclusion that all I read are books featuring assassins. ((Even Mistborn while not an assassin story per se, featured, well... Mistborn, which were themselves assassins, really.)) This isn't true, I swear! I may even get to something else one day. :P
However, apparent themes in my reading preferences aside, I did very much enjoy this assassin story.
It's very much one of those 'gritty' books, and I think most people already know whether this sort of story appeals to them or not. Living in the muck and grime of the Warrens is difficult and each must do what they must merely to survive. Joy is fleeting and momentary, with an unpleasant death in this unpleasant place the only certainty for most of the inhabitants.
'Grit' in a story is something I can personally take or leave, it doesn't instantly turn me away from a story but nor does it particularly endear me to it. At first I wondered if perhaps Weeks was trying a little too hard to stress the point of just how awful and hopeless things were for the guild rats living in the Warrens.
He managed to convince me before too much longer though that he knew what he was doing. As dark and grimy as much of the story is, there is a message of savouring what beauty is found in the smaller things of day to day life.
There is a conflict between the nihilist theories and thoughts espoused by Durzo Blint and the surprisingly hopeful outlook that Azoth tries to nurture throughout his tutelage. As much as Azoth wants to be like Durzo -- seemingly fearless and unbeatable by anyone, an appealing set of attributes to someone having grown up in the Warrens -- he struggles to adopt this ideology.
All through the story, we see Azoth -- eventually Kylar -- struggle with this.
"Life is empty. Life is worthless. When we take a life, we aren't taking anything of value." - Durzo Blint
“I regretted that I hadn't turned myself into the kind of man that you could be with. That it wouldn't be just for me to be with you, even if you wanted me. Our lives started in the same shit hole, Elene, but somehow you've turned into you, and I've turned into this. I don't like what I've done. I don't like who I've become. You don't deserve a fairy tale? I don't deserve another chance, but I'm asking you for one. You're afraid that love is too risky? I've seen what happens when you don't risk it. [...] I'm willing to risk it to see the world through your eyes.” - Azoth (Kylar)
So yes, there is romance. There is also plenty of frenetic action, and even a dab of magic to complete the epic fantasy checklist.
Don't let the lesser count of Emblems throw you off from reading this one. It was a debut work for Brent Weeks, so perhaps some elements could have been stronger. In particular, some of the reveals which would otherwise have earnt this book an, 'Oh Snap!' seemed to come from no where. They weren't jarring enough to throw me out of the book, but still noticeable.
There was also a facepalm moment when Azoth / Kylar fails to see something which I feel falls strongly under the 'Character is Stupid in Order to Progress Plot' banner unfortunately, but the final resolution of this incident is almost satisfying enough to wave off the bears and give Weeks a pass on it. It came close to eliciting a Man Tear, but not quite there.
Overall, despite the issues mentioned, I loved the book and I've dived into the second to fill out my reading time when I get caught up with the current Warbreaker Group Read. You will no doubt see reviews of the second and third books in due course. :)