I started The Lies of Locke Lamora for a book club that started in March 2020 and was quickly derailed by COVID. I finally finished both it and the sequel…on December 30. Take that, COVID!
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a great read. Meaty, full of grit and gallows humor, but also love and friendship and camaraderie. Excellent world-building, really immersive descriptions of the town of Camorr and its very seedy underbelly. It’s hard to sum up but let’s try: Father Chains, a monk of the Order of Perelandro, has a small band of boys he’s training to be gentlemen thieves. And by training I mean training: languages, clothing, psychological tricks, costumes, which fork to use when, cooking and cuisines, the whole bit. They are to be thieves of the first order, robbing the rich to, well, rob the rich. As adults, Locke is kind of the leader of the gang, due to his deft ability to inhabit roles and neutral, forgettable looks, but his band – Calo, Galdo, Jean, and Bug – are essential to the team as well. They hatch a few extremely audacious plots. 400 pages of hijinks ensue. It’s all quite merry, but also at turns quite devastating; Lynch pulls no punches and although I quite enjoyed it, I needed a break before digging into the second.
In Red Skies Under Red Seas, Locke and Jean arrive in Tal Verrar, in many ways the opposite of Camorr. They have some dark history they must deal with while attempting to pull an even more ambitious con, and a con of a con. It’s a very Interception plot that involves multiple marks, lots of mysterious double-dealing, and an awesome stay abord a pirate shipe helmed by fearless, handsome, savvy (woman) pirate Captain Drakasha and her first mate Ezri. The pirate ship parts were definitely the best parts of this book, which felt meandering and wordy compared to the first book. This was a more difficult book to pick up and remember who was who – what disguise is Locke in now? Wait…who is Caldris again? What is their scheme with this dude…or was that the other dude? I think Lynch pulled it off mainly due to the residual charm of his two protagonists–and Captian Drakasha–but it could have used another edit, in my opinion.
I’m planning to read the third book in 2021 as soon as I get it from the library. Although Red Seas was a bit of a haul, I really like the characters and the world-building, and am looking forward to seeing what crazy schemes the Gentlemen Bastards get tangled up in next.