You should read “The Lies of Locke Lamora”

lies cover

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. It’s kind of hard to articulate, but the gist of it is that, after a series of failed ventures and demoralizing setbacks, I’ve found myself feeling rather…uninspired.

At the start of the year, I told myself that I would update this blog regularly, hopefully post once, maybe twice a week. But then the aforementioned setbacks hit me hard in the gut and Good Enough fell to the wayside. Not only did I stop blogging as often, but other aspects of my life also took a backseat to laze and binges of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The most unfortunate victim of my own self-loathing, however, was my desire to read.

Enter The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

I knew I wanted to right the ship, get myself out of the rut that had become a comfortable little hovel filled with fast food and dirty sheets. My lovely, ever-patient wife made the observation that I had not been reading as much as I normally do, so I decided to start my rehabilitation there.

In searching for something good to read, I made myself a mental list of things I was looking for in a book. I was rather bitter at our universe at the time, so a fantasy novel taking place in an entirely separate world seemed to fit the bill; I just had to decide what kind of not-here adventure I wanted to go on.

One of my favorite series is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but, having read those books more than once already, I opted not to revisit them. Instead, I Googled a list of books that might scratch a similar itch and found this 2013 post from Martin himself.  I picked a name at random from the list of authors whose work I was unfamiliar with and stumbled on Scott Lynch.

And I’m glad I did.

The Lies of Locke Lamora reads like a heist movie in novel form mixed with a healthy dose of high fantasy elements like magic, sword fights, hard-to-pronounce names, a structurally-impractical city, and a villain that you can loathe and respect at the same time. Locke Lamora, the titular main character, is a part of a group of thieves who call themselves the Gentleman Bastards. The Bastards are class-A trick-takers and con artist extraordinaires (I think that word exists) who steal from the rich and keep the proceeds form themselves. When I was asked by my wife to describe the book, I told her the following: take the heist-planning scenes of Ocean’s Eleven, add a bit of Kill Bill and plop them in Venice, Italy, and you have at least a decent idea of what to expect.

The characters are what drew me in almost instantly. Lynch’s dialogue is well-executed and often funny, lending an endearing quality to the heroes, or making the villains that much more frightening. Lock Lamora is delightful character that is easy to root for. He carries with him a code of ethics that, despite being a thief by trade, makes him unquestionably a good person. The side characters also are fun and provide a heart-warming backboard off of which Locke can bounce witty back-and-forth epigrams.

Lynch does suspense fantastically as well; there are many scenes in Lies that had me frantically thumbing through the pages attempting to digest as much narrative as I could in order to reach the end of a tense fight or a daring feat. It speaks to his ability to weave an intense tale that I felt genuine fear for the characters on more than one occasion.

I enjoyed the book so much that, upon finishing the last page, I immediately went out and grabbed the sequel, called Red Seas Under Red Skies, and I am enjoying it just as much. Lynch has a new fan in me, and I myself have gained a new favorite series. It has revitalized my love for fantasy literature, and has helped to drag me out of my rut. I feel more motivated now than I did earlier in the year, and I find myself eager to sit at the computer and write. I realize that I could have chosen any of those authors from Martin’s list, or pulled any book off the shelf at the bookstore, but it was Lynch, and if I could speak to him personally and tell him just one thing, it would be a sincere “thank you.”

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