The most exciting fantasy novel I've read in years!
Dec 22, 2009
To fans of Charles Dickens' timeless classic "Oliver Twist",at least the opening scenes of Scott Lynch's ground-breaking epic debut novel will seem familiar. Locke Lamora, an impoverished, hungry orphan on a distant world reminiscent of medieval Venice, is captured off the streets and sold into servitude to the Eyeless Priest, a thief and con who, like Fagin, feeds and houses his crew of urchins while teaching them to live off the avails of thievery.
Lamora's precociousness, his easy-going flamboyance, his skill and intelligence, his artistry and imaginative ability to craft rock solid confidence games, his audacity and cock-sure bravado combined with his obvious love of life ensure that when the Eyeless Priest passes on, he falls naturally into the role of leadership of a group of best friends and clever cons who style themselves "The Gentlemen Bastards".
Lamora's plans to fleece the nobility out of their wealth put him into a difficult conflict with "the secret peace", an unwritten truce that exists between the Duke of Camorr and Capa Raza, the de facto ruler of all of the gangs including, of course, "The Gentlemen Bastards". Basically, crime is accepted and the local constabulary looks the other way provided, of course, the crime is directed at only the common people and the nobility are left alone.
When a shadowy character known only as "The Grey King" assassinates Capa Raza and usurps his position as the local crime boss, Lamora and the rest of his gang find themselves truly between a rock and a hard place. Now they are hunted by both the Duke's secret police, The Midnighters, and the Grey King's relentless enforcers that include, among other things, a powerful mage and an all-seeing fierce pet falcon with poisoned claws!
It is difficult to say enough good things about this incredible novel without appearing to actually froth at the mouth!
Characterization is positively brilliant and every character seems to be developed to such an astonishing degree as to actually leap off the page and into reality in the minds of the reader. I won't spoil the story by saying who dies, but when a couple of the good guys meet their nemesis, the characters have been so firmly built in the psyche of the reader that the effect is positively devastating!
Dialogue also deserves a full set of superlative compliments! Ranging from hilarious, comical strings of vulgar, medieval profanities that would make a longshoreman blush to upper crust court-speak that would be the envy of a Shakespeare in full blossom, Lynch's dialogue shows he is a master of conveying his story through conversation as well as descriptive narrative. And his descriptive abilities, by the bye, are not exactly low key either. Camorr is brought fully to life and Lynch's readers will have no trouble at all picturing a fully-realized jam-packed setting as his characters move from place to place in this fast-paced story.
Hie thee to the purveyor of fine books closest to thy hand and, with all due haste, read "The Lies of Locke Lamora", a picaresque fantasy of epic proportions in a gorgeous medieval setting. It's not mere hyperbole to suggest that this is the most exciting book I've read for quite some time.