The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.
Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentlemen Bastards.
The capricious, colorful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they’ve ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive…
“Someday, Locke Lamora,” he said, “someday, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”
Rereading this recently reaffirmed that this is one of my single favorite books of all time. The Lies of Locke Lamora is in my top 5 single books ever for a reason and I’ll tell you why.
The characters are just magnificent. Locke Lamora has the most depth as he is the titular character and main protagonist for the story. However, the other Gentlemen Bastards have their own distinct personalities that make them very compelling to follow as well. The chemistry between this group of 5 friends is unreal and one of, if not the best example of found family I have ever read. It was so easy to immediately like and care about every one of the Gentlemen Bastards. The characters in this one really make the story.
Locke and Jean’s friendship on its own is another highlight of the story. We get to see how their unlikely friendship was formed in the interludes that delve into the past. We also get to see the loyalty and self sacrificial nature of their friendship. They stick by each other no matter the trouble even at the risk of their own lives. Locke and Jean are one of my favorite friendship duos of all time.
Snarky banter is a huge part of this story and nobody does that like Scott Lynch. I laughed so many times at the irreverant humor of the Gentleman Bastards. Whether it was the twins Calo and Galdo finishing each other’s sentences, Locke Lamora being inappropriately rude and sarcastic to those that are more powerful than him, or the group’s tradition at meal times, they always found a way to make me smile even in this dark and grim world.
Speaking of the world, the setting of Camorr is incredible. Lynch does a wonderful job of conveying the unforgiving atmosphere of this city of corrupt nobility and merciless thieving gangs. I also really enjoyed picturing the city itself which is inspired by Renessaince era Venice. Lynch brings this world to life with excellent world building.
“I’ve got kids that enjoy stealing. I’ve got kids that don’t think about stealing one way or the other, and I’ve got kids that just tolerate stealing because they know they’ve got nothing else to do. But nobody–and I mean nobody–has ever been hungry for it like this boy. 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. He…steals too much.”
The Gentlmen Bastards run con games and none have been bigger than the con they are trying to pull in the present story. However, what starts as them doing their utmost to rob the nobility blind turns into something far more. They are pulled into events well above what they had planned and have to use all their wits if they want to get out of it alive. The tension and stakes throughout this part of the story were always high and were a big part of my complete immersion into this world. Scott Lynch is not afraid to allow his characters to suffer or be harmed so be prepared emotionally for that as well.
I will warn you, there are interludes throughout this story and they can feel a bit abrupt at times. Once in a while it will happen as a sort of cliffhanger and I’ve seen reviews where that rubbed people the wrong way. However, this isn’t something that bothered me. The interludes deliver more complex character development, especially for Locke, by showing some of the Gentlemen Bastards’ pasts during their days training under Father Chains. The dynamic between Father Chains and the younger version of each Gentleman Bastard was at once heart warming and hilarious. Also, Locke is a very compelling character to follow so anytime spent with him in the past or present was time well spent for me.
This is one of the few books that I would say is the perfect book for me. The heart and humor resonate with me so well and the plot was full of unexpected twists, turns, and heartache. If you like heists and con games, snarky humor, lovable characters, and compelling plots then read this book! I cannot recommend a book more highly.
“To us, richer and cleverer than everyone else!”