Thieves in The Lies of Locke Lamora | Book Review


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy
Author: Scott Lynch
Published: June 2006
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 530 (paperback)

Content warning (click to see)

violence * torture * blood * gore

First thoughts

*weary sigh* well, I finished it. This was a struggle and a half to get through, and whilst I loved the idea of the book, its execution left me banging my head against the table.

What it’s about

This is the story of Locke Lamora and his Gentleman Bastards – his gang of thieves. Set in a medieval-esque world, they come up with glorious and extravagant plots to steal from the rich and make their lives quite comfortable.

But the politics of the world is much more complicated than your average fantasy and when magic comes into the play things begin to get messy.

Why I rated it 2 stars

Now I’m aware than almost everyone else and their dog have rated this 5 stars and crowed from the rooftops that this is the best book ever written. And I confess to be absolutely baffled as to why. I’m actually looking forward to reading Lord of the Rings after this, because surely it won’t be so difficult to get through.

The characters were great and the world was great, but this book had some of the worst pacing and plot structure I’ve ever read when its potential was SO great.

The book is terribly slow with little to nothing of actual interest to keep your attention until around page 400. This is not an indication of good writing to me, a book should never take that long to get interesting. Lynch has a great vocabulary and way with words, and certainly has beautiful descriptions, but the pacing was so spectacularly off and the book could not hold my attention.

We constantly flip from present time to flashbacks, which interrupt the flow of reading in a bad way. There was exactly one instance where a flashback proved to be clever/useful, where I went A-HA as things lined up. But there were about 10283 flashbacks and honestly, the book would have greatly benefited from their exclusion.

The chapters were also too long and didn’t start on new pages, so there was almost no sense of accomplishment as you go through the book to egg you on to keep reading. So combine long, challenging chapters with interruptions during the best parts of the book, and you end up struggling to find the will to pick it up.

Which is a crying shame because for the last 80 or so pages when things were actually good, the full force and cleverness of Lynch’s writing shone through. Why oh why did the rest of this genius get buried in a badly structured book.

The story of this book could be condensed to 100 or 200 pages less and pack a much better punch. I love writing that goes into detail about descriptions but it didn’t work in this book namely due to the flashbacks where the intense extrapolation of the finer details of the scenery brought tears to my eyes and a headache to my imagination.

Final thoughts

I feel let down that I didn’t love this book. I doubt I will read the next, and I certainly feel left out seeing as everyone else loves this. But I’ll be damned if I put myself through the torture of another marathon of tedious, irrelevant flashbacks ruining a good story.

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