If you’re looking for heist drama, Ocean’s 11-style genre fiction, I’d recommend The Rogues of the Republic over this first entry in The Gentlemen Bastards series. The Lies of Locke Lamora was an enjoyable read, but not the masterpiece the author clearly thinks he wrote. Mostly it just made me want to reread the aforementioned Rogues.
One thing I am a sucker for is worlds that toss you in and don’t immediately (or ever) answer all your questions. Camorr is one such world with the ghosts of a previous civilization seeming to haunt the city. I definitely don’t understand all the ins and outs of Camorr and I like it that way–this is their world and I’m just visiting.
Quick plot summary: our primary character is a young man using the name Locke Lamora. Orphaned at a very young age, he was taken in and trained with other young thieves as a child until his predilection for interesting plans and lots of trouble saw him transferred into the care of a very different-minded kind of master thief. Here he joins the man’s small band of self-proclaimed “Gentlemen Bastards” where he grows and learns and flourishes. But on the eve of their biggest score ever, things go oh so horribly awry.
I’m having trouble pinning down exactly what made me so “meh” about it. I guess there wasn’t a whole lot of character development. Aside from a very few players, most folks were there as props and set dressing. There were glimmers of interesting characters who could have been explored further, but fell to the wayside (looking at you, Dona Sofia). For a plot built on schemes and revenge, things felt remarkably flat–it gave off the vibe of multi-layered, plans-A-through-Z style shenanigans but didn’t deliver. There were moments of wonderful cleverness, but not enough to float the book as a whole.
I think I’ve said before that I praise very few books which says more about my pickiness than it does about the things I read. That Lamora didn’t meet those standards doesn’t mean it’s bad. I finished the whole thing! It was my favorite thing I read last week! I will absolutely finish the series, it just won’t necessarily make my list of books I’d recommend. That would be Rogues of the Republic. Go read those.