The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

★☆☆☆☆ (1/5)

This was probably one of the worst reads of this year. Excessive and unnecessary details clogged the world-building. The entire book, plot aside, was chock-full of irrelevant information which was forced upon the reader. To make matters worse, these nuggets had to be recalled time and time again in order to move ahead with the story. It seemed like I was reading the author’s personal notes instead of a fantasy novel.

Yellowjackets, Nightglasses, Midnighters, Tablecloths, Table-legs, Teabags, Moonshiners, Chair-leggers, Palace of Patience, Manor of Regret-for-starting-this-forsaken-book, Elderglass, Youngglass, Tweencrystal – the author relentlessly concocted names and labels for every little group of people, event, notable chieftains, houses and families and what not, including Camorr’s drainage systems and ports and shady corners.

Beside this deluge of information, the author also failed to elicit empathy for the characters. Almost halfway through I had simply stopped caring about Locke Lamora and his friends. Their mischiefs weren’t enthralling, let alone amusing to read. Multiple, convoluted sub-plots paired with myriad of minor characters, self-indulgent details and lengthy tirades on Camorr made this an exhausting read. I had to skim through the last few pages in order to release myself from torture.

There’s magic, alchemy, thievery, secrets, fantastical history, looming war threats, doctors and gods, enmity and comradeship, blood, gore and sports – but the smorgasbord is not appealing. The alliteration in the title alone can give you a headache.

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

World Building

  • “Everything you asked me to look for after I sold you Calo and Galdo. Everything you liked so much about Sabetha! He’s Camorri, but a mongrel. Therin and Vadran blood with neither dominant. He’s got larceny in his heart, sure as the sea’s full of fish piss. And I can even let you have him at a…a discount.”
  • Eighty-eight thousand souls generated a certain steady volume of waste; this waste included a constant trickle of lost, useless, and abandoned children.
  • When Falselight died and true night fell, the glow never seemed to simply fade so much as recede, as though it were being drawn back within the glass, a loan reclaimed by a jealous creditor. Shadows widened and blackened until finally the whole park was swallowed by them from below.
  • It is said in Camorr that the difference between honest and dishonest commerce is that when an honest man or woman of business ruins someone, they don’t have the courtesy to cut their throat to finish the affair.

To Contemplate

  • First, always ensure that the subject is nicely distracted.
  • Second, minimize—and I damn well mean minimize—contact with the subject even when they are distracted.
  • Lastly, once you’ve done your business, clear the vicinity even if the subject is as dumb as a box of hammers.
  • Undeserved good fortune always conceals a snare.
  • Let’s be frank; the succession rites of the Kingdom of the Marrows always involve armies and blood before they involve blessings and banquets.
  • “Enlightenment! When it comes, it comes like a brick to the head, doesn’t it?”
  • The world is full of conundrums that will tax your skills. Do you presume that you will always get to choose the ones that best suit your strengths?
  • “The threat of an empty stomach soon rekindles wisdom.”
  • Age has a way of exaggerating the physical traits of those who live to feel its strains; the round tend to grow rounder, and the slim tend to waste away.

Beautifully Constructed Sentences

  • In rare moments of vain reflection, the Thiefmaker thought of himself as an artist. A sculptor, to be precise, with orphans as his clay and the old graveyard on Shades’ Hill as his studio.
  • “You’re one-third bad intentions, one-third pure avarice, and one-eighth sawdust. What’s left, I’ll credit, must be brains.”
  • Such audacity could never be faked—Locke had to feel it, summon it from somewhere inside, cloak himself in arrogance as though it were an old familiar garment.
  • Every seam and wrinkle on his face seemed to be steadily sliding toward the ground, as though he’d been shaped by a slightly drunk god who’d pressed the mortal clay just a little too far down.
  • For a moment Gathis was too bewildered to cry out; then the pain broke through to his dulled senses and he roared.

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