Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)

Author: Lynch, Scott

I have Opinions about this book. To start with, Lies of Locke Lamora is very popular; if you look at a list of “best fantasy novels of the last few decades,” it will usually be in the top fifty or so.

So what’s this book got going on? It’s about Locke Lamora, a charming thief and member of the Gentleman Bastards, who are basically Oceans Eleven in dystopian fantasy Italy. It’s decently written and the characters and dialog are funny. The protagonist, Locke, is charming and quippy (even though his intelligence varies WILDLY depending on whether the author needs to be funny or have Locke be a functional human being). The world has some cool elements, like the city being made of some sort of material called Elderglass left behind by whatever this world’s Precursors are.

But I couldn’t help but hate this book.

Something I’ve been noticing a lot in high fantasy is what feels to me like narrative clutter. Scenes that don’t do anything, characters that are introduced and then thrown away, dialog that doesn’t inform us or have any impact on the story. And Lies is _littered_ with this. There are numerous interesting characters who are introduced to us just to get killed offscreen to, I don’t know, give the protagonists the motivation to do what they were going to do anyway? The plot lacks any sort of thematic cohesion, just going from situation to situation with sort of arbitrary pacing. Imagine a dancer, but instead of moving fluidly through different positions they just go from one pose to the next, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, with no rhyme or reason to their movements. That’s what reading this book felt like.

My other complaint is the women. I realize complaining about no women in fantasy is all the rage right now, but dang I did not appreciate how bad it would be until I went from books with female characters to picking up Lies. Women in this series seem to exist to a) die to motivate the men, and b) fall in love with the men and THEN die to motivate them. That second one’s a bit of a spoiler, but honestly you’ll know what’s going to happen the page you meet them.

These are not things everyone cares about. People love this book, and I can’t really blame them (I can and do and people who don’t like the same books as me are deranged). There are those good things I mentioned. But even if you want male centric hodgepodge fantasy, you can do better than this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s