The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Narrated by Michael Page
Published by Tantor Audio, 2009
I almost gave up on this book not far into the first section, but I’m really glad I didn’t. It turned into a good action story with lots of humor in a dark world.
The story revolves around a small band of orphan thieves who grow secretly stronger as they cleverly con rich folk out of their fortunes. The political infighting inside the world of the various kingpins, bandits, con artists, assassins, and pickpockets rises to new levels as the “Gentleman Bastards” maneuver their way through the maze of the criminal underground. Turns out that the nobility have just as much back-stabbing going on.
Although the characters—even the hero—aren’t loveable or even “good,” the story itself really kept my attention. The fact is, the other guys are so nasty, you end up caring whether the young thieves live out the story and/or get revenge.
I was initially confused by the flashback style of the chapter arrangement. I understand the device for building suspense and a gradual release of character backstories, but I believe it was overused here. If a story is strong enough on its own, it doesn’t need those schemes.
The author has an incredible talent for seeing humor in even the most dire circumstances and his use of simile is nothing short of consummate, especially from the mouth of Father Chains, the crooked mentor and task master of the young thieves. I laughed out loud many times and chuckled a lot.
“Enlightenment! When it comes, it comes like a brick to the head, doesn’t it?”—Chains
Michael Page narrates the tale with fantastic flair. His use of accents and vocal tone and pace is really wonderful.
The fantasy world of the book mixes language and history of France, Spain, and Italy, and includes some really intriguing religious orders and practices. I look forward to the next book in the series (this is the first one).
Be prepared for lots of harsh language, a great amount of blood and guts, and lots of sarcasm.
Highly recommended for fans of criminal fantasy.
Books like this: The Riyria series by Michael J. Sullivan; The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence