Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of Disbelief: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Suspension of Disbelief is a weekly feature, in which we review movies, books, TV shows, and other popular culture for the skeptical teen.

As someone who’s read a lot of books, I have come to really enjoy writers who play with the language while developing an awesome story at the same time. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a perfect example of that, and has a story that always keep you on your toes, in terms of witty banter and plot twists. It is one of the most interesting and fun fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time.

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Genre: Fantasy
Author: Scott Lynch

I actually hadn’t heard about Scott Lynch before I read this book. Maybe not that surprising, as it was his first novel when it was published seven years ago. My suspicions toward the unknown soon dwindled though, when one of my friends handed me the slightly tattered book, which had a stamp of a approval from George RR Martin himself.

As per usual, the main protagonist is picked from the fantasy trifecta – warrior, mage and thief. A little more unusual is the fact that we are following the thief in this novel. For this story centres around Locke Lamora and his gang, the Gentlemen Bastards. They include his hulking friend Jean, the Sanza twins and the young apprentice Bug.

The book starts with introducing the city of Camorr, a place with plenty of medieval Venice-esque aspects. One of the city districts has been struck by a plague targeting only adults, and all the children become orphaned. A man simply known as the Thiefmaker buys a few dozen of them from the city guard – Locke included – before the rest are sent off as slaves. Sadly, Locke is too unruly for the Thiefmaker, and is sold again, this time to the not-so-holy priest named Chains. From here, we leap forward in time, following Locke as a grown man while still unravelling his past and learning more about Camorr.

Something that’s really refreshing about this is that Locke isn’t TEH ONE. He isn’t chosen by fate, and no bearded old man tells him that it’s his destiny to save the kingdom. He and his friends are nothing but petty thieves and scammers – or, that is what they seem to be.

Yet I still feel that Locke and the other characters are relatable. They are shaped by the environment and driven by their ambitions. Lynch has written the book with plenty of twists and turns, and the people in it react more or less like humans do. Most of it is beautifully orchestrated, and makes the book incredibly engrossing. It can also be quite bloody, but that only seems fitting in a city that’s so harsh and unlawful. In the end, all the different aspects make this book into a tale that manages to take turns at being exciting, surprising and horrifying.

Scott Lynch has made a good debut with this novel, and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this projected seven books series. I highly recommend reading it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Wicked Sisters (you’ll only get that if you read the book!)

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Ine is a second-year university student who spends most of her time far north and in really, really bad weather. She has been interested in science for most of her life, and the enthusiasm for critical thinking has tagged along almost inevitably, which means that she often grumbles about creationism and other kinds of woo. When she has some spare time, Ine does taekwondo, draws and reads.


  1. May 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm —

    The Lies of Locke Lamora is a truly awesome book, but the sequel is somewhat of a letdown, and after five years there’s still not a firm publishing date for book three:

    Update on the publication of The Republic of Thieves

    My recommendation is to read this book and wait until the third book has at least been handed over to the publishers before starting on book two.

    Go read The Name of the Wind instead.

    • May 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm —

      See, I was actually wondering a bit whether or not to review this book or The Name of the Wind instead.

      But TNW has its’ own flaws. Among other things, it’s the main character’s ability to be unbeatable all the time, except when things are going well. He gets money, the money flies away from him. He’s doing well at the college, he then gets thrown out. Rinse and repeat.

      After two books, the plot contrivances were piling up pretty high. I mean, the books are quite good, but not necessarily something to read “instead of” LLL. And, it’s not like they’re being written any faster.

      • May 3, 2012 at 11:17 am —

        That depends on how you define speed. LLL was published in 2006, Red Seas under Red skies in 2007, and now the third book of a projected seven, _may_ get published this fall.

        Rothfuss projects three books total, published one in 2007 and one in 2011.

        And you may be right about TNW having some flaws, but they are not bad enough for me to notice them and just the blurb on TNW is enough to give me a nerdgasm.

        “I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

        You may have heard of me.”

        • May 5, 2012 at 11:31 am —

          Well, Rothfuss has to publish the third book by next year, if they’re going to have the same number of books in the same timespan. And I really, really doubt that he’s going to stop at three books with that character.

          I guess that the rest just comes down to a difference in opinion. But hey, if you’re going to throw your main protagonist through that many plot contrivances, it helps if they’re a bit varied. Can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the book greatly, but the economic relativism got to me after a while.

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