Friday, January 27, 2012
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
My friend, Scott, is now two for two on recommending new, intriguing authors for me to read. The first one he told me about was Patrick Rothfuss, whom I've really enjoyed. I thought when I saw the title of this one that it was going to be some sort of retelling of Gaelic myth, but it turned out that Lynch has created an interesting and rather exciting new world, with this first tale centered around the island city of Camorr.
It's got a bit of that Oliver Twist flavor at first, as the protagonist, Locke Lamora, is an orphan purchased by the Thiefmaker, who is sold to the blind priest known as Chains when it turns out that Locke is just a little more than he bargained for. Chains is not actually blind, but is running a con on worshipers at the Temple of Perelandro. He has recruited his own select small band of boys to train in more ambitious and devious ploys than the pickpockets and second-story men that infest Camorra.
Chains teaches Locke and his other proteges all of the scholarly and noble arts, as well as sending them off to be trained in various forms of combat, and to other temples of the Twelve Gods, to learn the customs and secret rituals of the other temples, so they may pass unheeded and unhindered in their business around the city. Camorr's underbelly is ruled by Capa Barsava, a ruthless ruler of all of the Right People, as the criminals call themselves, who has established a Secret Peace with the ruler of Camorr, Duke Nicovante. As long as the thieves do not steal from the nobility, they are free to molest all of the lower and middle class at will.
The action moves smoothly back and forth between Locke's adventures as the leader of the Gentlemen Bastards, the gang he leads after Chains passes away (we never find out when or how this happened), and his early indoctrination by the cunning false priest. When an interloper known as the Gray King begins to kill, one by one, all of Capa Barsava's gang leaders, Locke is drawn into a game far more deadly than the scams he and his friends have begun to ply upon the unsuspecting noble dons of the city.
The Gray King has, in his service, one of the infamous bondmages of Karthain, a group so powerful that none dare cross them, as they seem to have a Hells Angels motto of "mess with one of us, you mess with all of us." The Gray King selects Locke to be an unwitting dupe in his schemes to dethrone Barsava and to wreak a horrible vengeance on the nobles of the city as well, and Locke's Gentlemen Bastards are in for the caper and fight of their lives. Locke's current scam also gets him crossways with the mysterious leader of the Duke's secret police, the Spider, and he needs to avoid the webs spun to catch him by that shadowy entity in the midst of chaos.
Very brutal, with a richly imagined new world, complete with mysterious magics, vanished ancient races and their ruins, and a whole host of fun new characters.