Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Publisher: Bantram Spectra
Release Date: July 2006
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5
In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part "Robin Hood", one part Ocean's Eleven, and entirely enthralling... An orphan's life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting. Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld's most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined. Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi's most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr's underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying...

Since writing for this blog I believe I have only reviewed books by female authors. From the get go I've been looking forward to my first review of a male authors' work, and this is it! In this case we have a male author writing a book about male protagonists as well. And I'm happy to report that this is the sort of book that still manages to be entirely feminist, even though the focus is mainly on men.

So let's get right to it!

First off, the series title Gentleman Bastards is already informing us regarding the gender focus due to the gendered term gentleman. And the Gentleman Bastards that we meet within this book ARE all male. That said, the elusive Sabetha is, or at least WAS, part of the gang. So while you don't actually meet the Gentlewoman within this book, I'm pretty certain she's going to appear within the series at some point and be an important character. So that's pretty damn cool.

The male characters within this book also treat women spectacularly, in the sense that there is no cliched behaviour at all. None of the cliched good, and none of the cliched bad. The women we meet may not be protagonists but there is a huge variety of types, and every single one of them appears to respected by the men around them.

So let's touch on the variety of women that we meet.

I don't have the book with me, so I can't spell the actual word, but the Berangias twins are essentially badasses that balance on tiny platforms and fight LEAPING SHARKS. Yes, leaping sharks. They are hardcore, they take mo prisoners, and they are the Capa's elite bodyguards. Yes, two ladies.

We have Nazca, (I will just quickly point out that Nazca's arc is probably my one disappointment in this book) the Capa's daughter. She has two older brothers who would both expect to inherit their fathers' rule before their kid sister, yet it is quickly acknowledged that Nazca would be much better suited. And so our characters are going to find a way to make it so.

There is the Dona Sofia who slowly but surely became one of my favourite characters. She's incredibly intelligent, incredibly talented, and she ends up saving the day in  a number of ways. She uses her charms to get her way, she uses her head to figure things out, and when needed to she swears with the best of them. Sofia was an incredibly pleasant surprise for me.

And of course there is the Dona Vorchenza (spelling?). I won't say much about her because SPOILERS but this old lady packs a punch!

Not only are the female characters each dynamic and interesting, but the world building is awesome too. The timeline of the book jumps around (which took me a while to get used too) and there are a number of sections marked as 'Interludes'. One such interlude talks about a how a pimp that treated his whores terribly started an uprising. Ultimately all the whores within Camorr banded together and created their own respectable whorehouses where they made the rules, and where they would kill any man that broke them. I honestly loved this whole section so much. Not only was it an anecdote about ladies sticking together, but I also loved the tone of the novel towards sex workers. There's a scene where Locke attempts to have a night with one of the ladies, which doesn't quite go to plan, but the whole thing was just written so respectfully. It was just any other scene really. Fantastic stuff.

With regards to other forms of representation, there wasn't much in there. This is an incredibly vast fantasy world, so I'm sure that issues of race/racial representation will arise at some point. I didn't spot any LGBTQ characters - not in an overt sense anyway. I mean...Locke x Jean forever, but as things stand at the end of the book one - those two are firmly bros. (DON'T SHOUT AT ME AMBER AND TATUM, JEEZ) Hopefully LGBTQ characters will pop up later.

This is a book written by a man, about men. But it is also a perfect example of how a book written by a man, about men can be incredibly respectful towards women. And it also ended with a lot of promise. Promise that there will be more awesome ladies in the future, and I cannot WAIT.

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