The Lies of Locke Lamora
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|The Lies of Locke Lamora|
|Publisher||Gollancz (UK); Bantam Doubleday Dell (USA)|
|Publication date||June 27, 2006|
|Media type||Print - Hardback & Paperback|
|Pages||512 pp (US hardback edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-553-80467-7 (US hardback edition)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.6 22|
|LC Classification||PS3612.Y5427 L54 2006|
|Followed by||Red Seas Under Red Skies|
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a fantasy novel by Scott Lynch. It follows the adventures of a group of con artists known as the Gentlemen Bastards. They live in a city called Camorr, heavily based on late medieval Venice. The book is divided into two interspersed stories. In the present time, the Gentlemen Bastards must contend with the Grey King, a powerful figure terrorizing Camorr's criminal community. Every other chapter, however, delves into the history and mythology of Camorr, the Gentlemen Bastards, and especially the protagonist Locke Lamora.
After a devastating plague, the Thiefmaker pays off the city guard for thirty new orphans to train as thieves. A runt, small even for his age five or six, sneaks into the group. The Thiefmaker soon discovers Locke Lamora is extremely clever but not "circumspect", and is a liability due to his lack of foresight and restraint. He obtains permission to kill the offender, but prefers to make a profit. He sells Locke to Chains, a priest of the Nameless Thirteenth god, the Crooked Warden who protects thieves.
Chains uses a temple dedicated to one of the twelve respectable gods as a front to operate the elite Gentlemen Bastards. They play confidence games on the city's richest citizens, defying the Secret Peace, an unspoken agreement between the criminal underground and nobility of Camorr. Criminals are organized, and should not target nobility. While the "Thorn of Camorr" is rumored to steal from the rich, Locke maintains the pretense of being a perfectly ordinary low-class sneak thief.
In time, Locke becomes garrista (leader) of the Gentlemen Bastards crew, all masters of disguise, deception, and fine cuisine. Huge Jean Tannen is an expert fighter, especially with hatchets - his favorite pair is nicknamed "The Wicked Sisters". Calo and Galdo Sanza are jack-of-all-trades identical twins. Bug is a young apprentice given all the menial tasks. Everyone knows Locke loves Sabetha, but she is far away on business, and never appears.
At the beginning, the Gentlemen Bastards are commencing an elaborate confidence game against Don Lorenzo Salvara and his wife. Locke pretends to be Lukas Fehrwight, a representative of a powerful foreign brandy brewing family that must secretly export stock before their home state erupts into civil war, rumors based on truths. During the con, a mysterious Gray King kills all the sub-leaders loyal to the Capa Barsavi, head of Camorr's criminal underworld. The instigator then coerces Locke to take on his Gray appearance, and meet Barsavi.
To lure Barsavi from his secure fortress, the Gray King kills the Capa's only daughter, and returns her body sealed in a cask of horse urine, so her father believes she drowned alive. But Locke identifies her wounds from the venomous falcon familiar that has been shadowing the Gentlemen on behalf of his master mage. This Bondsmage protects the Gray King from any sharp weapon, and controls others by pain and threats of death. His three wrist tattoos indicate a most costly and skilled level. The entire city of powerful sorcerers are infamous for exorbitant fees, and collective retaliatory wrath if a member is killed.
Despite reassurances that the Bondsmage's magic will protect Locke, the Gray King sent an informant to Barsavi. The protection only covers piercing and stabbing, not a brutal beating and suffocating, as Locke is sealed in a cask of horse urine like Barsavi's daughter. The cask is then dropped into the vermin-infested waters below, where confederates Bug and Jean await.
The Gray King planned Locke's betrayal and execution so the over-confident Barsavi would gather all his followers in his headquarters for his daughter's funeral wake and party. Locke cannot reveal his true identity to Barsavi or he and all the Gentleman Bastards will be killed, and submits to certain death. At the height of his celebration, his twin bodyguards, actually the Gray King's sisters, assassinate Barsavi, his sons, and his most trusted underlings. The Gray King appears before the stunned onlookers, and takes the name "Capa Raza", meaning Revenge, declaring himself the new head of the underworld.
Bug and Jean save Locke, but their underground temple home is vandalized, every penny of their vast savings stolen, and twins Calo and Galdo had their throats slit ear to ear. One of the Gray King's men is lying in wait, and kills Bug before being killed by Locke. Enraged, Locke swears revenge. "Justice is red".
Down at the docks, Jean kills the Gray King's sisters, while Locke tries to complete the confidence game with what few resources he still possesses. Unfortunately, the Salvaras have been tipped off to Locke's scam. The Spider spymaster has the Salvaras invite Locke to the ruling Duke's grandest party of all the nobles, on the city's most important holiday, where Locke is trapped, and barely escapes.
Locke gets to a hideout, but the Bondsmage already awaits, and has incapacitated Jean. By exploiting the bondsmage's arrogance and psychic link with his scorpion-hawk familiar, Locke and Jean barely manage to subdue him, and proceed to torture the Gray King's secrets out of him. Wary of the ruthless reputation of the Bondsmagi, the Gentlemen spare the Bondsmage's life, but remove his fingers and tongue, rendering him unable to gesture or speak his spells, and driving him to mute madness.
The Bondsmage reveals the motivation driving the Gray King. His father opposed the brokering of the Secret Peace, resulting in the execution of nearly his entire family. In the intervening years, the Gray King's consuming hatred had driven him to build up a vast amount of wealth and stage his complex plot against Capa Barsavi and the nobility of Camorr.
His revenge on Barsavi complete, the Gray King turns to exact vengeance upon the nobility. He gifts four sculptures to the Duke of Camorr, actually timebombs filled with Wraithstone. The smoke from this mineral is used to "gentle" animals, effectively turning them into passive vegetables. At nightfall, the fuses will light, the fumes will rise, and all the nobles and their children in the Tower will permanently slide into moronic vapidity.
Also at nightfall, the Gray King will wait alone for his ship to pick him up at the other end of the city. Locke must choose. He rushes back to the party, and manages to warn the assembled nobles before the bombs go off.
Locke sweet-talks the Spider into his freedom. For his selflessness, despite his numerous crimes against the nobility of Camorr, Locke is allowed to leave to go after the Gray King himself first. In single combat, Locke is completely outmatched: smaller, weaker, slower, exhausted by exertion and wounds, less skilled in swords and hand-to-hand. All he has ever been good at is to spin false tales. So he does. He uses the same trick that worked as a child against a rival gang leader (finally resolving the double plot lines), fools the Gray King, and ultimately kill him, avenging his fallen brethren. The ending has Jean and invalid Locke aboard a ship, setting off for a new life.
Warner Brothers bought the film rights soon after the book's release. The brothers Kevin and Dan Hageman were to write the screenplay, Michael De Luca and Julie Yorn to produce. Despite additional television rumors, as of 2013, no casting or other announcements have been released.
- Morrison, C. M. (26 June 2006). "Strange Horizons Review (with spoilers)".
- Scott Lynch's website
- Pen and Paper listing
- Interview with Scott Lynch by Alison Bone for The Bookseller, 10 April 2006.
- Interview with Scott Lynch by Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, 21 June 2006.
- Video Interview with Scott Lynch on YouTube, 21 July 2006.
- Interview with Scott Lynch by Elbakin.net, 7 August 2006.
- Interview with Scott Lynch by Katharine Stubbs for Sentient Online, 21 September 2009.
- Review by J. K. Pelletier FantasyBookNews.com, December 2008
- Review by Jayaprakash on kvltsite.com August 2007
- Review by C.M. Morrison Strange Horizon, 26 June 2006.
- Review by John Berlyne SFRevu, June 2006.
- Review by Sherwood Smith The SF Site, 2006.
- Review by Pat's Fantasy Hotlist 29 May 2006.
- Review by Sue Griffiths Fiction Reviews, 2006.
- Review by Dylan Skerbitz Twin Cities Daily Planet, 5 September 2006.
- Review by Williams Lexner Reviews of Speculative Fiction for the Fan and Collector, 2 July 2006.
- Review by Violet Kane Alternative Reality Webzine, 2006.
- Review by Ilya Popov 6 February 2006.
- Review by Martin Jenner August 1, 2006 Computercrowsnest.com
- Review by Pawel Raczek May 5, 2008