The Lies of Locke Lamora Readalong, Part I

This week marks the beginning of Little Red Reviewer‘s groupread of “The Lies of Locke Lamora,” by Scott Lynch.  I hadn’t really heard much about the book before the readalong, but it looked interesting and I decided to give it a shot.  So far I’m enjoying it tremendously.

One of the cool things about this readalong is that the author saw it and decided to get on board and offer some behind the scenes thoughts on his book.  For more details, see here.

This post will involve SPOILERS.  After the readalong is over, I’ll provide a spoiler-free review of the book for anyone who hasn’t been following along.  And now, without further ado…

1. If this is your first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, what do you think of it so far?  If this is a re-read for you, how does the book stand up to rereading?

So far I’m loving it.  It has already surpassed my expectations.  It’s going to be very hard to keep myself from reading ahead!

2. At last count, I found three time lines:  Locke as as a 20-something adult, Locke meeting Father Chains for the first time, and Locke as a younger child in Shades Hill. How are you doing with the Flashback within a flashback style of introducing characters and the world?

At first I found the flashbacks a bit confusing, but I got over it quickly.  I was equally curious about Locke as a child and as an adult.  He’s very much the trickster archetype and loveable rogue, and it’s a lot of fun to see what he’ll come up with next

3. Speaking of the world, what do you think of Camorr and Lynch’s world building?

Worldbuilding is probably one of the most make-it-or-break-it aspects of a fantasy novel.  I was impressed by the way that Lynch handled it, from the canals and Falselight to the liquors one would have with dinner.  Even though there are a lot of familiar elements from a medieval world, the author gives it his own unique twist that’s unlike anything I’ve read before.

4. Father Chains and the death offering. . .  quite the code of honor for thieves, isn’t it? What kind of person do you think Chains is going to mold Locke into?

I like the idea of the death offering.  Even though are characters are criminals, they do have a strong code of honor that reminds me a bit of the story of Robin Hood.  I think the fact that Locke is willing to atone for the deaths that he caused makes us more willing to sympathize with him as he gets into mischief.  Chains may be a thief, but he’s also intelligent.  He’s trying to make Locke into a sophisticated con artist rather than just a lowly pickpocket, and he’s also teaching Locke to act with honor even in a dishonest profession.  The Gentleman Bastards aren’t a typical gang; they’re cultured, refined, and take their calling as theives very seriously.  I like the way that Chains’ household goods were all stolen from either people who deserved it or who didn’t use the goods in question anyway.  When we were first introduced to his character, I expected someone a lot more sinister.

5. It’s been a while since I read this, and I’d forgotten how much of the beginning of the book is pure set up, for the characters, the plot, and the world. Generally speaking, do you prefer  set up and world building done this way, or do you prefer to be thrown into the deep end with what’s happening?

Lynch handled the setup rather well.  The way that we learn about the characters is engaging and doesn’t just feel like a giant infodump.  I prefer books that take that kind of happy medium approach; I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a textbook, but at the same time I appreciate having enough of a context to understand what’s going on.  I like the way that Locke’s lessons in luxury aren’t all spelled out at this point, but that we can clearly see the fruits of his training with Chains.

6. If you’ve already started attempting to pick the pockets of your family members (or even thought about it!) raise your hand.

Hahaha… I’m just on the edge of my seat hoping that Locke gets away with his audacious scheme!

27 thoughts on “The Lies of Locke Lamora Readalong, Part I

  1. I’m taking part in the read-along as well- I like that you’re planning on posting a spoiler-free review at the end of it. I may well do the same.

    Also, I’m following this blog now, partially for the read-along and partially because Books Without Any Pictures is an excellent blog name.

  2. Hi
    Great to be reading your thoughts again. I’m really enjoying the reread – I’d forgotten so much detail so it’s a really good refresher for when No.3 comes out in Summer.

    I was also thinking about a dark fantasy Robin Hood.

    Looking forward to the rest of your thoughts.

    Lynn 😀

  3. Not reading ahead is going to be very difficult for me too. I’m think I might see the end of the book before the end of the read along. 🙂

    I agree, the worldbuilding is really good. The detail what makes it.

    1. When I read the back cover I expected a typical fantasy world. I think that Lynch went above and beyond with the detail to give it a culture and an atmosphere that is entirely unique.

  4. Wow, it sounds like everyone is having a tough time stopping reading, and i think by the end everyone will have read a ton ahead. that’s the sign of a good book!!

    the first time i read it, the flashback framing device confused me a little, but once I got the hang out it, I enjoyed it, and really appreciated seeing the foundation of how younger Locke grew up into the Locke we know today. It’s like a book and prequel all crammed into one!

    I liked the scene with the Death Offering. Sometimes fantasy annoys me because nothing has consequences that we see, nothing has a price. Lynch tells us right away that this lifestyle comes with a price. The less careful you are, the higher the price is. when I say I like things expensive, this is exactly what I’m talking about.

    I’m so happy you are going to post a spoiler free review later, that’s a brilliant idea! 😀

    1. The scene with the Death Offering makes me wonder though how much of Don Salvara’s fortune is going to end up being dumped in the ocean if Locke gets away with it. 😛

  5. It’s so hard to put this book down. I have no idea how I managed to do that at all when I was first reading it… I’ll say young and stupid.

    I like to think Chains taught Locke way more circumspection than the Thiefmaker could ever have. 😛

    1. Definitely–Locke is lucky to have survived his time with the Thiefmaker after all the stuff he pulled. Chains is teaching him that his actions have consequences and affect more than just himself. Then again, I do like to hope that accidentally getting those kids killed weighed on Locke for reasons other than just because Chains called him out on it and made him think…

  6. I really enjoyed the use of the various meals described so far – food make s a difference in a person’s life. And the fact that the Gentlemen Bastards have to learn to prepare and cook their own luxuriant meals is awesome.

    1. I agree. I loved seeing the transition from common thieves into Gentleman Bastards. I also like that their lessons in luxury have a purpose. 😀

      I also love the way that beverages are described. It is well done, but not overdone, and I haven’t gotten tired of the level of detail.

  7. I’m also ‘on the edge of my seat’ waiting to see if Locke can pull of the con. I know that things have been going a bit too smoothly for him so far and that his luck can’t hold out much longer but I really want him to get away with it! 😛

    1. Same here. It takes a lot of skill to cheat someone out of half of their fortune. Things do seem to be working out a bit too well, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Locke.

  8. I read this book several months ago, I’m actually reading the second book right now, but I’ll give my thoughts to the questions. I don’t remember exactly where in the story part 1 ended, so I’ll try to avoid spoilers.

    1 – I thought the book had a pretty interesting premise, it’s kind of an Ocean’s 11 meets Fantasy novel.

    2 – The flashbacks worked pretty well because they were separate chapters, it’s also pretty clear which timeline you’re reading in each section.

    3 – It’s well done without being overwhelming. While some of the exact trappings are different, I’ve seen similar enough ideas in other Fantasy novels before.

    4 – I’ve already read the book, so this is kind of cheating for me to answer this question, so I’ll skip it.

    5 – The way that Lynch uses the flashback sections throughout the entire book is to teach you about the world by showing you Locke & co learning about the world. Because it’s done this way, it doesn’t feel like an infodump even though that’s really all it is. As for which way I prefer, it really depends upon how the author handles it. I’ve seen both ways done well, and I’ve seen them both done poorly, it’s entirely dependent upon the skill of the author.

    6 – Never tried it.

    1. Yay! I’m glad you decided to join us!

      I was a bit nervous at first about the flashbacks, especially the one where we start seeing the Gentleman Bastards in action for the first time, because it took a page or so for it to be obvious that it was a flashback. After it became apparent that the flashbacks were going to be a major part of the way that the story was written I got used to them pretty quickly. I found myself getting caught up in the story at each point in time, and I like the mystery of trying to piece together what happened between Locke’s childhood and now.

  9. I’m new to this book but whenever I read descriptions of Camorr and the setting and especially stuff about the elder glass I grow excited over the prospect of it leading back to elder gods and the like! I’m intrigued by the idea that there was once an ancient and advanced culture living there.

    1. The idea of a lost older civilization providing technological advancement is pretty neat. I’m hoping that maybe we’ll learn more about them in the upcoming sections!

  10. Ha ha, I see that the anticipation is killing you, I believe you’re not the only one! I think that although Locke is a great and talented thief, he tends to be very unlucky… so it’s always easier to fear for him than predict he’ll succeed. Let’s see how good he can be now!

    1. Indeed. Things are working out almost too well for him at the moment, so something bad is bound to happen soon. At the same time, I feel like his bad luck is more likely to get everyone killed except him. 😀

  11. I envy all the new readers discovering this book and the shadowy streets of Camorr for the first time. The good news is that Lies is one of those books that improves on a reread, in fact it’s every bit as good this time as it was the first time I read it, and I think this is my 7th read of it.

    1. I love Camorr so far. It’s such a unique world, and the Venice/carnival atmosphere on the streets works so well. Thanks for stopping by!

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