I can't possibly write any sort of review for this book without massive spoilers, so I'm not going to try. Just as a bit of a warning, there's one ploI can't possibly write any sort of review for this book without massive spoilers, so I'm not going to try. Just as a bit of a warning, there's one plot twist mid-book here that was so absolutely ridiculous it nearly made me stop reading out of annoyance (it's literally that bad), but there was just so much else to love in this book that I can't really say that it's inferior to the first novel in the series- in fact, it was far more entertaining than the second, even taking that twist into account.
Sabetha ("The Woman") is just an amazing character, that's all that matters....more
What can I say? I loved nearly everything about the first book in the series, and gave it 4 stars instead of 5 mostly because I abhorred the unimaginaWhat can I say? I loved nearly everything about the first book in the series, and gave it 4 stars instead of 5 mostly because I abhorred the unimaginative and illogical magic system Lynch chose to use (and the fact that the mages are just too damned powerful). Those negatives haven't disappeared, and so all things being equal, 4 stars is really the ceiling for this one.
Unfortunately, all things aren't quite equal. To start with, this book has a metric ton of nautical jargon. While some people might see the enthusiasm needed for such great volumes of shiplife-gobbledygook as a positive, I simply don't. I have no interest in ships and all of the little technical aspects of sailing and piracy. While this book may have focused on such things, the series isn't a pirate-focused series, so the enthusiasm feels entirely out of place and, more importantly, boring and time-wasting.
To be perfectly clear, I'm not criticizing Lynch for wanting pirates and ships for this story, I'm criticizing him for fixating on it nearly to the exclusion of everything else. We get one big heist, fine, I'm okay with that- but where we also got dozens and dozens of smaller thefts and confidence-schemes in the first book to get excited over, here we get boats, hard work, more boats, and face-to-face combat (for which the more interesting protagonist professes very little actual talent with). While none of that is bad per-se, it isn't what I signed up for.
The positives are all (mostly) still there: interesting and easily distinguishable characters that you'll remember for a long time after you're done reading, a setting that gets deeper and more fascinating as time goes on, and a protagonist that, while diminished a bit in this volume, is still clever and insane enough to bring a smile to my face. See my review for the first book for more details there.
So, in the end I'm giving this book 3 stars out of 5, for being half-entertaining and half-frustrating. I still enjoyed it a bit more than the average fantasy novel, but cute and vulgar one-liners, while entertaining, can only do so much to brighten an otherwise tedious experience. I honestly think that the third book will cure what ailments were introduced here, so I'll be continuing with the series. I can only hope that new ones don't come up to replace them when they're gone....more
Just a short review, as I'm quite exhausted now- I missed out on sleep since I just couldn't stop reading until I had the book finished. Out of all ofJust a short review, as I'm quite exhausted now- I missed out on sleep since I just couldn't stop reading until I had the book finished. Out of all of the books I've read over the years, "The Lies of Locke Lamora" doesn't have the most technically-impressive writing, or the deepest characters, or the most surprising twists, but it is one of the most entertaining novels I've read in half a decade or more, and it has some of the best dialogue.
The gritty, unforgiving nature of the world the book portrays, the near-constant and oft very colorful curses from the characters (children and adults alike), a liberal helping of dark humor (you'll hate yourself for laughing so much), the outrageous actions of the protagonist as he plans and executes confidence-schemes, and some intense action when action is called for, all combine in this book to form something that's truly difficult to put down once you start.
I was impressed with the way that the author counterbalances very heavy chapters with very light "interlude" segments, featuring amusing anecdotes that give a lot of background on some of the less obvious aspects of the society portrayed in the book (and background on the protagonist, of course). I was even greatly amused at the way that a certain childhood friend was omitted almost entirely from the story, except in vague reference (similar to how "The Woman" was treated, as fans of Sherlock Holmes will understand).
The only issue I had with this book had to do with its rather ill-explained and illogical magic system. I'm a sucker for great magic systems, whether they're original or simply well-developed (this was neither, sadly), but what I love most are limitations (of which this has almost none). A thousand bullets for a pea-shooter, six shots for a revolver, one big boom for a missile- the way the world balances itself, quantity versus quality.
The mages in this story are portrayed as being very nearly all-powerful, with no limitations whatsoever beyond their ability to wag their tongues for a second or two. Freezing the thought-processes of your victims with a gesture, or forcing them to huddle over in agonizing pain, with no effort at all, as often as necessary? Also, the magic system that's employed here seems to be based on the spoken word and hand gestures, and even gives power to a person's name as if it has some sort of psychic weight for the person it belongs to. None of these things are very interesting, original, or logical to me- and yes, I do understand the seeming fallacy of applying logic to "magic", but we've moved beyond the days where "abracadabra" should be seen as a viable option in anything other than a children's story in my opinion. All of this bothers me, and it's why this book simply cannot hope to receive a 5/5 from me....more
There are definitely a lot of positive things about this book (and the rest of the series, I'm sure). I enjoyed the writing style and, for the most paThere are definitely a lot of positive things about this book (and the rest of the series, I'm sure). I enjoyed the writing style and, for the most part, the fast pacing- the way that there's very little detail about anything that's unimportant in setting the mood of any given scene (a common thread in most good young-adult novels). I enjoyed the characters, which, although not very deep, are at least distinctive and mostly interesting. I liked the protagonist in particular- she's self-confident in the kind of way only truly sheltered people can be, but she doesn't do kindnesses out of the good of her heart (in fact, she rarely thinks about other people at all unless the matter is life-or-death), and yet she isn't an annoying brat either. I also enjoyed the setting at the start of the book (the Abbey), the main character's role in it, and how everything there functions.
Now the slightly longer list: things that I didn't like.
I absolutely can't stand books and series that have some sort of absolute power (be it a god or otherwise) that sees everything, past and future, and influences events and people into semi-preordained situations. More than that, the idea of foresight itself bugs me to no end. Telling when an earthquake is going to happen is one thing, because there's nothing in the many millions and millions of variations of choice and coincidence that occurs from people interacting with one-another that's going to influence a natural disaster's occurrence, but seeing any man-made event further ahead of time than a few seconds is FAR beyond my apparently meager skills in suspending my own disbelief. Even if I accept your midichlorian god and its ability to calculate probabilities over an extended period with thousands and thousands of people involved, doesn't that rather defeat the concept of free-will? Why are we concerned about the story at all if it's a foregone conclusion? There's a sphere in the book that allows the main character not just to see what direction things lie in, but the fastest path to them (which isn't always the SHORTEST path), and even the fastest SAFE path to them (assuming she doesn't have a crisis of faith and lose its direction, oh my!). Seriously?
Another thing, call me a nerd, but I can't stand things that can't be quantified and/or measured, such as energy/magic which is only seemingly limited by emotion or necessity (even if something's never ACTUALLY measured, it should feel like it COULD be). It bothers me when there's always a cheap way out of any situation that doesn't need to be explained further than "trust in God and he shall deliver thee". Whether it's a half dozen seeming-coincidences all coming together in one moment to dramatically shift a situation to the benefit of the protagonist, or a completely hopeless situation that's overcome not through ingenuity, cleverness, strength-in-numbers, skill, or luck, but desperation tapping into an unlimited power supply (or faith, doing the same thing), I REALLY don't like it. I know that this is a young-adult novel, but if you don't ground your magic system (or should I say faith system?) in some sort of boundaries, how am I supposed to take it seriously? Not enough power? Pray harder. Still not working? God's procrastinating, give him time.
If you don't have any qualms with faith-based magic systems, oracles/seers, and very short rather shallow books/series, then ignore this review and read it. After it was all said and done, I didn't hate it (I finished it, which should say something), but I won't be continuing the series either....more