r/books discussion

Monthly Group Read > [Lies of Locke Lamora] Prologue- Ch.3

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Stephanie, Super Mod (new)

Stephanie (lastnightsbook) | 346 comments Mod
Hello everyone!

Delivered late so my apologies, but here is where we can put in all our input for the first chapters. Any additional material to the book, regarding the book is also welcome!

message 2: by David (new)

David Ranney (davidranney) It's early in the week, so I'll start the discussion with some observations over the Prologue, Chapter One, and the First Interlude. Assume that everything is a spoiler, but I've divided my thoughts into sections, so you can pick and choose as you please. Mostly I'll just emphasize excerpts that I enjoyed, and occasionally remark on things that I think the author is doing well.

Prologue: The Boy Who Stole Too Much

I love how Lynch builds the intrigue leading up to the reveal of Locke. The characterization, at first, is distant and purely cinematic. He is just a little welp of a child, following the rest of the purchased orphans like a little sheep. He is called out as being the 31st of 30, so he is immediately extraneous, but also special. There is something more to this kid, and not just because his name is on the book cover. Finally, Lynch dumps this gem of characterization on us:
"If he had a bloody gash across his throat and a physiker was trying to sew it up, Lamora would steal the needle and thread and die laughing."
- Thiefmaker
Well then.

One of the best things an author can do is write a character that is good at his job. In Locke's case, he is a master thief. His orphan peers have their own degrees of success (or failure, in case of the ones hanging by their necks off a bridge), but Locke illustrates true proficiency. Whether spewing out a white-and-orange vomit or snapping a twig to fake a broken leg, Locke (like any true artist) values entertainment over the practical. Much to the dismay of the Thiefmaker:
"I just want nice, neat little jobs from you, Lamora. I want a purse here, a sausage there. I want you to swallow your ambition, shit it out like a bad meal, and be a circumspect little teaser for about the next thousand years."
- Thiefmaker

It would seem our boy Locke is setting the curve. But we are about to understand that Locke, while a big fish in a small pond, still has a lot to learn about the politics of thievery, as he is sold off to Father Chains and given this wonderful lesson:
"The entire city of Camorr is full of idiots running around and getting hung, all because they think that stealing is something you do with your hands."
- Father Chains
I think Lynch has done a masterful job of providing little zingers that really builds narrative greed. It's so rewarding to finish a chapter with a little punch that sums up the previous action and clarifies the stakes and expectations going forward.

Chapter One: The Don Salvara Game

So far, Lynch is showing he is very adept at establishing the hook:
Locke Lamora's rule of thumb was this: a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim's trust forever. This time around, he planned to spend those three seconds getting strangled.

I'm always amazed when authors can work comedy into every page (Side Note: this is done masterfully in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) I really enjoy adult Locke, with his playful sense of the ironic:
"Just stay in character. You can pray and strangle at the same time."

Lynch infuses his writing with comic description, so the scenes play out almost like cartoons, as in the scene where Bug weighs his options and distracts the yellow-jackets by jumping two stories into a trash heap. He slaps an exclamation point on the moment with some comic reflexivity:
Bug shook his head to clear the white sparks dancing behind his eyes, and twitched his legs to be sure they would serve. Nothing appeared to be broken, thank the gods. He would reevaluate his own claims on immortality when all this was over.

Interlude: Locke Explains

A very fun read thus far. I think what's most remarkable is the construction of the story. I'm not generally a fan of frame stories, but I admit I am immensely intrigued to follow Young Locke's account of what he did to deserve, in essence, the forfeiture of his life. Also, it sets up a Young-Locke, Old-Locke dichotomy, so we can compare the thief that was to the thief that is. It all contributes to a speculative read; that is, a story that encourages you to look forward and make connections in anticipation of events to come. Lynch has done it here, wonderfully.

message 3: by Ashley (last edited Jun 02, 2013 03:15PM) (new)

Ashley (icecheeseplease) Wow what a great first post! I'm about as far as you, David, so I'll jump in as well. Since David has already hit most all of the main points I'll keep it to pointing out some of my different observations.

First off, a quote I found interesting, (speaking of Locke) "...he was a man the gods might have shaped deliberately to be overlooked." This quote stands out to me because in lore and mythology gods are often keen to help the lovely and scoff at the ugly. The thought of gods creating someone who is deliberately unremarkable strikes me as profound.

My next comment is about the female role in The Lies of Locke Lamora. There isn't one. The only female character of any importance so far is the Dona Sofia, and her relation to Locke is easily summarized as this: "Throwing blondes at Locke Lamora was not unlike throwing lettuce at sharks..." Will there ever be an important female role in this series? This brings me to my next point....

I don't mind, but I have noticed that this is certainly a novel written by a male for a male audience. There is no female character for females to relate to and there are little to no character emotions, which is generally what a female audience is looking for. Lies of Locke is focused more on the actions of the characters, events, and politics. This isn't a bad thing, of course, but at the same time it's not the type of book I usually go for.

As a side note, I am very interested in Dona Sofia's profession- a true alchemical botanist. It just sounds fascinating.

That's all for me right now! (I'm almost to Interlude: Locke Stays for Dinner)

message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 185 comments Along with what Ashley said, I loved Locke because he was so physically average. It's his mind that makes him such a great character. Many characters in books are good for a number of reasons but have or sometimes rely on good looks to get through life. Locke relies in his utter lack of remarkable features and lets his swift mind run its course.

As for female characters, (as I've said, I read this book relatively recently) you will see plenty of fascinating and smart female characters-- whether or not they play a pivotal role, I will leave to your reading. You may be correct in saying it caters to a male audience. I didn't notice while I was reading, but I tend towards books like that quite a bit.

message 5: by Ashley (last edited Jun 02, 2013 11:25PM) (new)

Ashley (icecheeseplease) I can see how this style of writing is fine for others, but character depth is a big thing for me. If I can't sympathize with characters (male or female or heck, even animals) I get turned off from the read pretty quick. It's a good story though so I'll persevere!

message 6: by Nate (new)

Nate Morse I am only up to chapter 2 at this point but a question popped into mind last night. Lukas Fehrwight is from Vadran and speaks with an accent. I was wondering of others read his speech in an accent as well. In my mind, he sounds Russian.
I also gave the lawyer disguised character (who's name I forget at the moment, but I think was only there to further establish the credibility of Ferhwight) an Italian accent. Everyone else speaks with no accent, at least to me.

So do you have a way of giving accents to fictional languages and did you pick any so far for this book?

message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 185 comments I love thinking up accents for characters! When I read the book, I think I somehow pictured Locke in this scene talking like one of Val Kilmar's characters in The Saint-- the gay German, I believe? He is just supposed to be so foppish and ridiculous!

I will spend time considering accents to read in-- the Capitol accent in The Hunger Games really got me, because the description didn't seem like anything familiar.

message 8: by David (new)

David Ranney (davidranney) I have finished through chapter three. To Ashley's point, I find the psychological distance of the narrative voice to be a bit too distant. I'm enjoying the banter between the characters well enough (a bit juvenile, but palatable), but I'd love to get some thoughts and feelings from the characters.

Like, for example, in setting up the confidence game with Don Lorenzo Salvara. The backdrop of a jumping shark fight is a good piece of milieu, and there was plenty of intrigue, but the characters come off hollow as though they were simply chess pieces. I'm sure the author is doing this on purpose, to keep the cards close to his chest so he can move his players around to continually surprise, but for a character who is not immediately sympathetic (Locke is affable, but a shit-disturber), I'd have more of an investment if I knew what drove him, or what he feared.

I'm sure this all wraps into the mystery that Lynch is building, but for a book that is so clearly plot-intensive, he could shorten the psychological distance, invest us in Locke's hopes and fears, and then wham us later on. There's a little author named George R.R. Martin who does this immaculately. Y'all can read about him on the Google.

message 9: by Dallas (new)

Dallas (dalski) | 26 comments I'm enjoying the book quite a bit so far, mostly because of the dialogue. The story itself is pretty good, and I like the setting, but I do feel like the characters just aren't very "deep" yet, but I haven't really given it a fair chance yet. I can feel that the mystery of the book is growing bigger and bigger, and I'm pretty excited to see where this goes. I got a kick out of Father Chains' character, especially when he first meets Locke. Like I said, I think the dialogue between characters is the strongest part of the book so far.

I haven't read a fantasy-style book in a very long time, other than Lord of the Rings, so this is quite an interesting turn from the stuff I had been reading prior (stuff more like our last book - The Master and Margarita). It's kind of a breath of fresh air seeing the word "fuck" written on the page, but it does at times feel a little juvenile and kind of takes me out of the story a bit. Not enough to where it ruins the book though.

"Does that give you a moment of pause, my boy? Good. Stare at this thing, Locke. Take a good, hard look. It means your death is paid for. I bought this from your former master when I got you at a bargain price. It means that if Duke Nicovante himself adopted you tomorrow and proclaimed you his heir, I could still crack your skull open and nail you to a post, and nobody in the city would lift a fucking finger."
-Father Chains

I like the usage here because it adds to the harshness of what he's really saying to Locke. Gives a sense to how dire his situation is and how close he is to death at any moment. That nobody would/could do anything about it either.

But there were a lot of times where the Thiefmaker would say it and it just felt like he was purposely going overboard with it, but maybe that's just his charcter...ahhh.... right?

Very interested to read the next section.

message 10: by Ashley (last edited Jun 06, 2013 06:44PM) (new)

Ashley (icecheeseplease) I just finished chapter three and I have a few more notes for you guys.

First though @ Dallas, I agree that the cursing, at times, seems a little forced. Not always, but sometimes it seems like it may have been thrown in as an afterthought.

Okay, so what's going on here, guys? This is when Locke and crew are older, and coming back from romping around with the Don p.165

"The fluttering shadow that trailed them on their way through the streets and alleys was quieter than a small child's breath; swift and graceful, it swooped from rooftop to rooftop in their wake, following their actions with absolute single-mindedness. When they (Locke & gang) slipped back into the Temple District, it beat its wings and rose into the darkness in a lazy spiraling circle, until it was up above the mists of Camorr and lost against the gray haze of the low-hanging clouds."

My guess: (view spoiler)

I'm also interested in learning more about the ancient, long gone civilization that keeps getting mentioned. With their unbreakable alien glass and all that.

message 11: by Dallas (new)

Dallas (dalski) | 26 comments Man this book is taking me forever to read for some reason. I just finished the interlude after chapter two and am starting chapter 3 now. I need to pick up the pace!

I'll respond to your comment after I finish chapter 3

message 12: by Stephanie, Super Mod (new)

Stephanie (lastnightsbook) | 346 comments Mod
@dallas, I'm too lagging behind. It's a thick read. Take your time :)

back to top