Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Posted: September 20, 2013 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Scott Lynch, Fantasy

I know, I know. The book is old. You already know I love it. But here’s the thing, THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES (Amazon) is finally about to be released. Before I jumped into Scott Lynch’s newest, I needed to go back and revisit both THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA (Amazon) and RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES (Amazon). So I’m taking the opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you discerning readers. Think of this as a re-read review.

I’ll be blunt up front and share what you should already know. THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA was one of my favorite books ever when I read it for the first time five years ago. I accidentally ended up with a review copy of it when I worked for Waldenbooks. The novel sat on my shelf for about a year, untouched. It had a cover that made me think it was some sort of weird, literary fantasy romance novel. I actually began reading it by accident. I blindly pulled the novel off the shelf, thinking I’d grabbed the latest R. Scott Bakker novel, and flipped to the first page. It was fairly obvious from the opening paragraph that I’d grabbed the wrong novel. But I kept reading. And reading.

And reading.

I loved it. Ever freaking word of every line. By this point I had already left the book store since it was a toxic environment perpetuated by the idiotic members of Borders’ executive management (sorry, mini rant over). I had very few outlets to express my love for the novel. We’ve been very vocal here at Elitist Book Reviews about our love for the novel, but perhaps you want to know why? Perhaps you even want to know if THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA holds up after a subsequent read (or a third in my case).

First things first. THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, to me, is even better now than when I first read it. I appreciate it more. The ensemble cast of Locke Jean and the rest demand a reader’s attention. This isn’t a book you can just skim through like many novels in the Fantasy genre. Everything adds character, whether to the main characters, the villains, or the city of Camorr.

The novel follows Locke Lamora and his small gang as they execute a confidence game–or a long con if you prefer–on one of the rich and powerful couples in the city of Camorr. As you’d imagine, things go sideways, and a bigger threat to the city itself emerges. Locke and his crew are forced into the upheaval.

What I like so much about the way Lynch tells the story is that we jump back-and-forth in time as we glean bits from Locke’s and Jean’s past and how those moments relate to the current situation in the city. The timing of these flashbacks with either elevate the tension of the current timeline, give the reader a hint at how Locke and the gang will resolve an issue, or serve to maximize comedic impact. Make no mistake, THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA is profane and violent, but it also hysterical when the situation calls for it. This balancing act of emotions is by far one of the most impressive things Scott Lynch is able to pull off in the novel.

The city of Camorr, and its denizens, is a character unto itself. I love the way Lynch paints the contrasts of the city. The good, the decadent, the bad, and the atrocious. These opposites and all the blendings in between are shown in terms of lifestyle, food, clothing, neighborhoods, language… everywhere. It makes the city feel alive in a way that few authors manage.

I think what gets lost in people’s musings on THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA–and on Scott Lynch in general–is how well he does action. I wouldn’t consider him the best in the business, but Lynch crafts his action extremely well. I’m never confused as to who is present in the scene, and to how things are happening. Additionally, I particularly like how Locke isn’t exactly good at fighting. Not even close really. It adds humanity to a character who has other talents.

If you aren't reading this series, you're doing it wrong. There isn't anything else out there truly like THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA.

In all, this is the type of book that any author should strive to write. And it Lynch’s first. This was my third time reading THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, and it was even more entertaining this time as the first time I turned its pages. If you get a chance, listen to the book on audio. It is narrated by Michael Page, and it’s completely amazing.

I’ll review RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES next week to conclude my re-read. Then I’ll be delving into my review copy of THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES.

Look. If you aren’t reading this series, you’re doing it wrong. There isn’t anything else out there truly like it. THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA remains one of my favorite novels of all-time. I can’t possibly recommend it more highly.

  • Recommended Age: 17+
  • Language: All sorts. It never feels out of place though. This will likely turn off quite a few readers. This is just a heads up.
  • Violence: Quite a bit. Lots of throat cutting. This is a really bloody book.
  • Sex: Nope. It's mentioned and talked about, but never shown.


  • ritika says:

    I had read this a couple of years back and absolutely loved it… red skies not so much.. but this series has potential and am looking forward to Republic of thieves. hope it is good .

  • Unknown says:

    I totally agree with you 100%. This is also one of my favorite books ever, and I've read a metric ton of fantasy/sci-fi/horror novels. Absolutely cannot wait for Republic of Thieves!

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