Kelly's Reviews > The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
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really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-and-scifi, fiction, wits-and-fools, owned

From the first threat to use someone's balls as fish bait to the last attempt to drown someone in horse piss, I absolutely adored this book. It is absolutely everything it should be, and then some. Emphasis on the and then some because it completely defied my expectations on many levels, both genre-wise and quality wise.

Set in a freaky, mystical alternate Renaissance Venice, the story takes place amongst the underworld thieves and gangs of the city. Our protagonist (I definitely won't call him a hero), Locke Lamora, and his title implied lies, guide us through a twisted, involved, and incredibly fucking fun (as they would say themselves) plotline that bounces all over the place back and forth and winds to its improbable and yet not unbelievable conclusion. There's thieving, impersonating identities, lots and lots of lies (some well done, others less so), very creative swearing that often made me laugh out loud, gang fights, plenty of gore, and all the intrigue, politics and sweet sweet revenge you could possibly want. And even amongst all this filth and twisted dirtiness, it still manages to be about love and revenge and wonderful, awesome friendship.

I loved how this book went right through and around genre expectations. Our protagonist Locke Lamora is not good looking, he isn't at all good in a fight, and we get to watch him be impotent in bed, an arrogant little snit who gets slapped down several times, and taking very very petty, not noble revenge on a bunch of people. He's just really smart. But realistically so. Sometimes even his spectacular ability to lie fails, and he has to go to Plan B. Sometimes Plan C. Sometimes Plan Z, until he's at the end of his tether, before he finally catches a break- and by that point he might be black and blue and humiliated and mutilated in a lot of nasty ways that don't usually get to happen to a hero. They also make no bones about the fact that he is a thief, and not in any Robin Hood sense at all, and no, there is no secret noble quest underneath that. Just deal with it.

Scott Lynch is also not afraid to kill people. Nobody is safe in this book, and you geniunely believe that anyone left alive could die on the next page by a random unlucky strike to the back of the head from a penny dropped from a height. He also is not close minded in his plots. He has created an incredible world, and he involves that world in the plot. Sometimes things go awry just... 'cause. Not everyone in the city is part of their plot. Stuff happens. I love that as well. His world creation is absolutely incredible, by the way. No, not by the way. That's a main point. He's meticulous in detail, and yet not boring with it. He spent five pages describing an alien glass garden of roses and I was riveted- I thought it was some of the best pages of the book. He's a skilled storyteller, and his descriptions are just a part of that. He's able to keep things at a very brisk pace and indulge us all the while building his plot and enriching the background.

I read this in four days. I give this book four stars just 'cause I'm stingy with the five stars, but it is really a five star book for the fantasy genre, it absolutely is.
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Reading Progress

July 1, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
February 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
February 16, 2009 –
page 70
9.31% ""Three people you can never fool- pawnbrokers, whores, and your mother.""
February 16, 2009 –
page 250
33.24% "I've ripped through 250 pages in less than a day. Clearly, the book is doing its job."
February 17, 2009 –
page 415
55.19% "... and I've finished another 200 pages, in a matter of a few hours. Yeah, this is why I haven't been on GR. Actually reading!"
February 17, 2009 –
page 470
62.5% "Scott Lynch: Oh, were you enjoying that? *DEATH*"
February 18, 2009 – Shelved as: fantasy-and-scifi
February 18, 2009 – Shelved as: fiction
July 29, 2009 – Shelved as: wits-and-fools
September 11, 2009 – Shelved as: owned

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm adding it, too. It sounds like a good one.


Emily I just read this book and thought it was fantastic - well-written, engaging, and full of surprising twists and turns. It was a very fast read for a 700-pager and I am totally sucked in to the author's world. On the negative side, there were some pretty obvious holes in character development, which were clearly setting the author up for a sequel. But, since I liked the book so much, I'm totally ok with that.


Kelly Thanks for the recommendation, Emily. I'm currently engaged in an 850 page monster myself (Crimson Petal and the White), but when I'm in the mood for another one, I'll keep this in mind. :)


Lori I've been dying to read this, and just got notification that it's waiting for me at the library, yay! But I've got one book to finish, and then another from the library that I've also been waiting for and is almost due back. Then, finally, I get to Lies.


Kelly Oh, you should! It's just pure, delightful, well done escapism. The world creation is really astounding. Just let yourself fall into it, it will reward you, I promise. :)


Kelly Wooohoooo! Then I have done a good morning's work! :)


Jackie "the Librarian" This sounds great, Kelly. I love an imperfect hero, one that gets beat up a lot. Easier to relate, maybe?


Sarah Convinced me too! This is something I have to read! Awesome review.


Emily I loved this as well, but wouldn't get your hopes too high for the sequel. It's worth reading, but basically it's just this exact same book done again.


message 10: by Kelly (last edited Feb 18, 2009 11:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly Sarah, glad you're up for it! Something quick and fun to read in between Big Important Histories, I think. :)

Emily, I don't think I'd mind reading the same book all over again, since this one was so much fun. :)


message 11: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Wow Kelly! What a great, detailed review! I was between starting Lies or Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough, and after reading your rave, I will definitely be picking up Lies after work today! Thanks! :)


Kelly Well, I haven't read the other, so I can't say for real which one is better, but I'm pretty sure this one will be a lot more fun anyway! :) I hope you like it!


message 13: by Grace (new)

Grace Sometimes I read the reviews other people wrote about a book to give me an idea. Your review helped! Thanks! :)


Randall Flagg I just finished reading the book. It was superb. At the end I was so worried that Locke or Jean would meet a miserable fate. But everything went well and the ending couldn't have been better.


message 15: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny From the first threat to use someone's balls as fish bait to the last attempt to drown someone in horse piss, I absolutely adored this book.

I rewatched Team America: World Police for the fourth time last week... this sounds delightfully familiar :) Maybe I'll have to read it.


message 16: by Kelly (last edited May 24, 2011 10:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly I rewatched Team America: World Police for the fourth time last week... this sounds delightfully familiar :) Maybe I'll have to read it.

I have never seen that, but if this reminded you of it, it sounds like I should. It's been on the queue foreeever. If you enjoy fun fantasy novels you definitely should give this one a try!


message 17: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny Well, based on your review I think I see certain commonalities. Imaginative fantasy world, cameraderie unto the death, hair-raising bad language...


Kelly Emphasis on the bad language. Definitely the bad language. There's cameraderie, but it often seems based on the bad language. :) Fun, though!


message 19: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny Well, it sounds remarkably similar :)


Kelly Ha! I'm in then!


message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited May 24, 2011 01:38PM) (new)

Did someone say camaraderie based on bad language? Sold.

I admit I thought this book was about a lake in Ireland*, because I can't spell.


*Duh. I totally meant to write Scotland.


Kelly I admit I thought this book was about a lake in Ireland, because I can't spell.

Ha! Though I admit I am now curious about what sort of lies a lake would tell. "That... is not a fish nibbling at your toe." "I have much less toxic waste than it looks like I do."

Or perhaps it would jedi mind trick lie: "This.. is not the algae you're looking for."


message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited May 24, 2011 01:47PM) (new)

"There are no lake serpents hiding in my depths."

Yeah, it doesn't make any sense when I say it out loud. I thought maybe it was arty-talk about a doomed love affair or something.


Kelly Those arty people do like weirdly named outdoor spaces. I don't blame you for the confusion. :)

But no, I promise, this is way awesomer and set in sortof Venice with towers and stuff, no lakes! You should totally try it!


message 25: by [deleted user] (last edited May 24, 2011 01:46PM) (new)

Looks right up my alley, really, and seems like it would be a great vacation read.


Anirudh I really loved the characters in this book. Especially Locke. And the best part for me is that he fails. Often. That made it a refreshing change from all the other books where the hero just never faulters.

Add to that, some top one liners and great humour makes this book worth every second you spent reading it.


Kelly Agreed!


Anirudh How was book two and three for you? :-)


Ismar Sarajlic great review,
tnx for bumping this novel to first place on my to read list


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