Author: Scott Lynch
Publication Date: 6/27/06
Blurb(GR): 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.…
I’ve seen a few readers refer to this book as “fast-paced” and my honest opinion is that this book is anything but. This story wanders; it spends time on the small details; it reveals itself slowly. Reading this book is like standing nose to tile with a mosaic and backing away one tiny step at a time. We’re given a tile here, a tile there…one from the past, one from the present, a piece of random history, a side-note about one of the characters. The completed picture isn’t visible until you’re a good distance away – until you’ve reached the end.
Finishing this book is like waking up to the realization that you’re actually surrounded by several floor to ceiling mosaic frescoes. This writer quite obviously has a lot more planned for this cast of characters. And unlike the authors of some series, I have absolute confidence that he has a firm grasp of where everything is going. He probably knows the intimate history of every single character he’s ever written (even the minor ones): what they were like as children, who they’ve been with, what they had for dinner last night. His imagination is clearly a force to be reckoned with, but the challenge for him (in my humble opinion) is one of editing. It takes a very precise, steady hand to leave in enough detail to achieve that brilliant panoramic atmosphere, without going overboard into slow-as-molasses territory.
And actually, I think that he’s largely successful. There were only a few times where I felt like…really? Did that detail really need to be in there?” Even then, I was by and large so charmed by his hilarious/sarcastic dialogue that I didn’t much care. And I love the entire cast! I love that the “hero” Locke Lamora is short, non-descript, and scrappy. He’s a brilliant con-artist (perhaps too brilliant) but his cons sometimes fail - spectacularly. And his merry band of grifters stole their way into my heart one by one.
Still, I would only recommend this one to those who don’t mind a bit of meandering – to those who are willing to trade off break-neck speed for a lot of interesting depth. His writing reminds me quite a bit of Guy Gavriel Kay, with added heists, disguises, sleight of hand, gore, and plus about a million percent more f-bombs. This book is hilarious and sometimes silly, but it’s never light. He’s not afraid to hit you with real tragedy.
My only other comment is: Sabetha needs to make an appearance pronto!