mark monday's Reviews > The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
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Feb 21, 11

bookshelves: fantastickal

this was a wonderful, wonderful experience. it is hard to give a specific rationale for why i loved this book - there are so many reasons! it has adventure, flair, great characters, a robust narrative, a satisfying conclusion, is exceedingly clever and well-written, and just heaps of fun. it is a good-hearted book. terrible things do happen, but the book has at its core a love of humanity, of life, of loyalty, of kindness, of the ways that family can be created, of the ways that children can survive terrible things, of the ways that adults can live with their own kind of honor, even as thieves.

strangely enough, there was no romance whatsoever. this was a pleasure to discover! i don't mind romance, when it is done well, but so often it bogs down books that are built on pure narrative - books like this one. no such bogging down occurs.

although pretty dark at times, this is also a humorous novel, and i laughed out loud at a lot of the clever moments and at many of the one-liners. maybe not the most subtle use of humor, but i'll take a real laugh when i can get it. as a cynical old man, usually when i laugh out loud at a book, it is in derision.

the world-building does not take precedence but it is there, and clearly thought out. i was slightly reminded of both tanith lee's Veniss (Venice by another name) and, strangely, Makkathran from the latest peter hamilton mega-opus. the city really comes alive at certain points. the novel is rich with details of the strangeness of Camorr.

the parallels with Ocean's 11 have been made repeatedly, and i suppose it is there. there are also many obvious uses of mafia culture, venice as noted, and italy in general. but put all together, it felt original to me, less derivative and more of a pastiche than a parody. and really, confidence games are timeless.

in my misguided excitement after finishing the last page, i started reading reviews on amazon and here in GR. i noticed something very irritating: people complaining about the frequent cursing and dropping of f-bombs. okay, now i can understand this if you are normally a fan of Regency romance or, say, classic adventure along the lines of rafael sabatini. or less violent fantasy in general. then i can understand the complaints and even respect them. but if you are a fan of rowdy modern adventure & fantasy, genres that frequently include blood & guts & murder & mutilation & slaughter....THEN GET A FUCKING GRIP ALREADY AND GET YOUR FUCKING PRIORITIES IN ORDER! my gosh, reading that kind of almost insanely unbalanced perspective really gets me agitated - you can read about humans being bloodily killed or tortured and yet the word FUCK gets your panties in a bunch? in a novel that depicts a city that hangs child thieves in public, it is swear words that really bother you?

i hate to end a review of a book i loved on such a negative note, but i had to get that off of my chest. so i'll end the review like this: if you like adventure, read this book! it's awesome.
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Stephen Mark said: my gosh, reading that kind of almost insanely unbalanced perspective really gets me agitated - you can read about humans being bloodily killed or tortured and yet the word FUCK gets your panties in a bunch? in a novel that depicts a city that hangs child thieves in public, it is swear words that really bother you?

Brilliant..to the point...and very well said!!!


message 3: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j "if you like adventure, read this book! its fucking awesome."

nice review, but i had to fix the last line for you.


mark monday thanks folks, and thanks for fixing that last line joel!


seak I'm always happy when someone enjoys a book I love.

My problem with the f-bomb dropping was really the overuse. I like my fantasies creative and when it's all the time it not only loses its effect but the work itself is that much less creative. I mean, it definitely helped to establish the underground street rats who are crude and rude, but there's more you can do with a good insult or expletive. Although your point is very well taken and well said at that.

The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham is the perfect example of a well used f-bomb. It actually shocked me.


message 6: by Brad (new) - added it

Brad All of this bears repeating: "you are a fan of rowdy modern adventure & fantasy, genres that frequently include blood & guts & murder & mutilation & slaughter....THEN GET A FUCKING GRIP ALREADY AND GET YOUR FUCKING PRIORITIES IN ORDER! my gosh, reading that kind of almost insanely unbalanced perspective really gets me agitated - you can read about humans being bloodily killed or tortured and yet the word FUCK gets your panties in a bunch? in a novel that depicts a city that hangs child thieves in public, it is swear words that really bother you?" that is preceisely how I felt when I read others' feelings about The Steel Remains. Fucking well said. Lies of Locke Lamora is sitting beside my bed. It is now next. Thanks, mark.


mark monday thanks brad & seak! and i will definitely check out The Price of Spring.


message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael Good review, Mark. I'm not a fan of the word "fuck" although I tolerate it for the sake of the characters/story because sometimes it's necessary. What I don't like is when the word (or any word: see "frak" in Battlestar Galactica) is overused for no real reason other than to provide a shortcut to showing us a character is a hardass who can swear. I see this is a planned seven book series which means - thanks to my dislike of the lazy George R.R. Martin - that I won't be reading it until book seven has been published.


message 9: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j michael, while i share your frustration with george rr martin (yes yes, i know, he is not my bitch, sure, but six years is a long time to expect people to keep supporting you creatively), unlike a game of thrones, lies of locke lamora is a standalone. you can read it and never pick up a sequel if you don't like it. even if you do, it's not like you'll be left hanging.

also scott lynch has apparently been dealing with massive clinical depression for years so it is unclear if or when the series will continue (though the third book is scheduled for later this year). the point being, it might never be finished but that is no reason not to enjoy the first book as an isolated adventure. unless you are the type of fantasy reader that prefers series, i suppose. i am sort of the opposite.


message 10: by mark (last edited Feb 23, 2011 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday well that is very sad to hear about the clinical depression.

michael, i think that joel makes a great point: unlike Game, Lamora can truly be read on its own. c'mon, try it!


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael So I go to Amazon to add it to my cart and I look at the cover and what do I see at the very top but a promotional blurb from the traitor George R.R. Martin!

As a standalone I added it to my cart (I'll just use a magic marker to cover up the Martin blurb!) even though I'm still on the fence about the repeated "F" use.

Joel - that quote about GRRM not being my bitch made me quit reading Neil Gaiman!


message 12: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j haha. neverwhere and my waning interest in good omens made me stop reading him, but that's as good a reason as any. even though i did interview him once (re: the TV version of neverwhere) for a small website i used to write for, and he was very nice even to my obviously unprepared and nervous self.

also i believe he wrote that TWO YEARS AGO? maybe he would feel differently today. TWO YEARS LATER.


message 13: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j incidentally, this handy site let me know that it has been 5 years, 3 months and 16 days since AFFC was released, and 10 years, 3 months and 24 days since ASOS. so if you read the book on release, you have been wondering what happened to tyrion, catelyn, bran, john, et al for over a decade.


message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael And according to that handy site, it's been 3 years, 1 month and 23 days since the crusty prick updated his blog with his lame excuses on why he abandoned his fans midway through his series. I'll give GRRM credit for only one thing which is that through his book recommendations on his blog he introduced to Bernard Cornwell.


message 15: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will M. I completely agree with you regarding the frequent cursing issue! Great review Mark.


message 16: by mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday fuck yeah, thank you!


Kat Stark Definitely a wonderful read


drowningmermaid Thank you for snarking the Pharisaical goodreads prissy-pants who are going to strain out the "gods-damn" gnats while swallowing the camel of dude-gets-his-bagged-face-hammered-to-drippy-meat-pulp. Fuck that shit.


message 19: by mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday agree! and happy to do so.


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