The Lies of Locke Lamora

Or why I love fantasy

Every now and then you come across a story which captures everything you love about reading and about the Fantasy genre. For me The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, did just that.  

The novel tells two tales, both about the main character, a master thief and con-man called Locke Lamora, woven together.

The main tale is that of Locke and his gang working an elaborate scheme to con a rich merchant out of his money. It’s a brilliant plan that makes use of all the best qualities of the different gang member. However, through his scheme Locke is dragged into a battle for the rule of the city where the tale is set, Camorr.

The secondary tale is the origin story of Locke Lamora. In a series of flash-backs different scenes from his youth are shown.

The novel has everything I love in Fantasy. The world is rich, exotic and fantastical, but it still feels real. It manages this by tying the setting into the story. It’s not just a background to the story which could be replaced without anyone noticing. The world is real for the characters, which makes it feel real for me as a reader.

The characters are well rounded. The titular character, Locke, is of course the most complete character, but the others are almost as well worked out. Locke’s friends all have distinct personalities and get plenty of space on the page to show it off. And the antagonists have clear goals and motivations and are just as well rounded as the heroes.

The story itself again carries many fantastical elements, without going overboard. Magic does play a role in the tale, but only a small one. Most of the fantasy feel comes from the setting I mentioned earlier. The story has a lovely pace to it, picking up as the story progresses. There are plenty of twists and turns, but they are well foreshadowed. Nothing feels like it comes out of the blue.

One criticism I’ve seen online is that some people dislike the flashback scenes. They didn’t bother me at all. I liked the flavor they added to the story, but I can see how it might confuse or disrupt the flow for some people.

All in all, it is a wonderful story which I recommend to anyone who loves epic fantasy.